Abstract and Keywords
Georgian tragedy has been neglected because of the sense that its subject matter lacked gravitas, and because of the belief that its insistence on generic purity was insufficiently innovative. Shakespearean tragedies continued to hold the stage throughout the period after the Licensing Act, though often in altered form; but celebrity actors (including especially women) enlivened tragedies that were newly written with more natural language and strong sentiment. Rather than signifying the death of tragedy, then, Georgian plays expanded the kinds of suffering characters who might be mourned, and who might be judged worthy of seriously engaging an audience’s attention and emotions. While some plays never reached the stage, playwrights such as Lillo, Moore, Murphy, Cradock, More, Baillie, Byron, and Shelley experimented with form and content in ways that led ultimately to the birth of fresh kinds of tragic plays and performances hailed as ushering in ‘a new order’.
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