Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 31 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Wordsworth returned to the 1796 draft of The Borderers in 1842. In revising the play, he confronted again the two problems that aggravated the original composition: 1) how was Rivers/Oswald able to compel Mortimer/Marmaduke to murder a frail blind old man; 2) what were his motives. Even the radical rewriting during Wordsworth’s first year of work on the tragedy indicates more a concern with adjusting the circumstances of the plot to deepen the dark psychological assault of one of the main characters on the other. In the 1796 version, Rivers is depicted as reenacting the stratagem of the historical Macbeth using an elixir of belladonna to drug and vanquish Harold Harefoot’s Danish troops. A reliance on ‘strong’ medicines almost vanishes from the 1842 revision. Wordsworth replaced the medicinally induced mind-control and relied exclusively on the corrupting power of Oswald’s insinuations and deceptions.

Keywords: Borderers, Rivers, Oswald, Mortimer, Marmaduke, deception, doubt, drugs, evil, suspicion

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.