18th century english Drama and Sheridan

18th century english Drama and Sheridan

The 18th Century Drama and Sheridan

Sentimentalism & PrePre-Romanticism

• One of the significant and popular trends in English literature in the second half of the 18th century is sentimentalism. • Sentimentalism is overindulgence in one’s emotion for the sake of his overwhelming discontent towards the social reality, and pessimistic belief and emphasis upon the virtue of man.

Historical Background
• Continuous, large-scale enclosures of land caused the bankruptcy of the rural economy as well as the mounting poverty and misery of the exploited and unemployed labouring masses in the cities, which naturally led to skepticism and disbelief in the myth about the bourgeois society as the best of all possible worlds. • The Walpole government was so corrupt that the Prime Minister was fiercely attacked by many literary men at that time. • All these made it increasingly difficult for the enlighteners to justify what Pope said “whatever is, is right.”

Intellectual Background
• The enlighteners believed in reason, but now they found that the power of reason was insufficient, that despite all reasoning, social injustice still held strong. • They then appealed to sentiment as a means of achieving happiness and social justice, because the philosophy of the enlighteners, though rational and materialistic in its essence, did not exclude senses, or sentiments, as a means of perception and learning. • With some writers the excess of sentiment served as a kind of mild but unmistakable protest against the social injustices. Hence sentimentalism in literature.

Sentimentalist Literature
• Poetry: Edward Young's celebrated blankverse dramatic rhapsody Night Thoughts and Thomas Gray's An Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard. • Drama: Richard Brinsley Sheridan and his The Rivals (1775) and The School of Scandal, a fine comedy of manners, was staged in 1777. • Fiction: Oliver Goldsmith and his The Vicar of Wakefield (1776);
– Lawrence Sterne and his Tristram Shandy (1760-1767).

18th Century English Drama
• 1. One of the main reasons of the decline of the English drama is that 戏剧审查法案” 戏剧审查法案 the Licensing Act “戏剧审查法案” 1737 ___________________of restricted the freedom of expression by dramatists. • 2. The greatest name in 18th century English drama is a player, David Garrick ________.

18th Century English Drama
• 3. David Garrick created a school of natural acting that was ________. • 4. ____________was a great David Garrick Shakespeare popularizer of ___________. Shakespeare • 5. Interest in ____________ was reflected in criticism and editions.

David Garrick great player



1775 1770

David Garrick as Macbeth

David Garrick between Tragedy and Comedy

David Carrick in Richard III

David Garrick as Benedick

The Provoked Wife 愤怒的妻子

18th Century English Drama
George Lillo: The London Merchant John Gay: The Beggar’s Opera


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