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Title: Edward Young as dramatist : a study of his theory and practice
Author: Roberts, J. Graeme
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 1971
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The chief aim of this thesis is to set Young's dramatic work in its critical and theatrical context, and to refute the view that his tragedies were the back work of an ignorant and incompetent blunderer. Chapter 1 sets out to show that Young was widely esteemed as a tragic dramatist in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, particularly or account of The Revenge, which eventually became a stock play in the repartoires of the theatres of London and Dublin and helped to establish the reputations of a number of distinguished actors. It also provides a brief account of the demoralised condition of the English stage and the difficulties that a new dramatist had to face at the time of Young's theatrical debut. Chapter 2 examines Young's critical writings, especially An Epistle to Lord Lansdown and Conjectures on Original Composition, for the important light that they throw on the development of his ideas about the nature and function of tragedy. It argues-that Young was one of the very first to appreciate the implications of Shaftesbury's doctrine of the natural affections for the theory and practice of tragedy, and shows how Young ultimately came to value the cultivation of emotion in drama primarily for its own sake rather than for any putative more1 benefits it might bring After a brief analysis of Young's "epic tragedy," The Force of Religion, Chapter 3 proceeds to examine of the praotical consequences of Young's affective view of drama, namely, his readiness to sacrifice consiatenoy of character, impression, and tone for the sake of immediate theatrical or emotional effect. It claims that Busiris is radically flawed, since, in his eagernss to satisfy as many dramatic tastes as possible. Young: has divided the spectator's interest among three heroes, each of whom enshrines a different conception of tragedy - the moral, the sentimental, and the heroic. It also illustrates Young's intimate knowledge of contemporary theatrical conventions, fashions, and conditions, as. well as his obvious familiarity with the various rhetorical and histrionic devices for registering and arousing the passions. Evidence of Young's ability to learn from theatrical experience and hostile criticism is provided at the beginning of Chapter 4 by a comparison of Busiris and The Revenge, which suggest that Young was no longer content to produce a series of discrete dramatic and emotional crises at the expense of unity of total effect, and by an analysis of the most important differences between the printed text of The Revenge and the Chandos manuscript, which seems to indicate that Young made a conscious effort to tone down the verbal extravagances of his second play. The main concern of this chapter, however, is to consider the nature and extent of Young's debt to Othello. This debt, it is suggested, is much lees extensive than has been generally recognised, since it is the differences rather than the similarities between the two tragedies that are of primary significance: indeed, the shift of interest end sympathy in Young's play from the victims of the intrigue to the villain alters. the emotional and moral balance of the entire drama. The true relationship between The Revenge and Othello, the chapter concludes, is not so much one of "imitation" as of "emulation." The final chapter begine by considering the tradition that Young's last play was written and rehearsed about thirty years before it was actually produced on the stage. In the course of this discussion, both the accepted date for the original rehearsal of The Brothers and ths reason commonly adduced for its subsequent withdrawn by the author are challenged. The bulk of this chapter, howaver, is devoted to rebutting the allegation that Young's play is little more than a translation of Thomas Corneille's tragedy, Parsee at Demetrius. The Brothers, it concludes, is a good example of the change of taste that took place in the early eighteenth century, as. well as a striking illustration of Young's own dictum that pathos is "the life and soul" of tragedy. An account of the most important differences between the acted and printed versions of this play is given in an Appendix.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available