‘Hear Me!’

David Francis Taylor

in Theatres of Opposition

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199642847
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738869 | DOI:
‘Hear Me!’

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  • Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)
  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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Building on the preceding chapter’s discussion of the trial of Warren Hastings, this chapter turns to Sheridan’s phenomenally successful tragedy Pizarro (May 1799), a loose adaptation of a German play by August von Kotzebue in which Sheridan recycled as dramatic dialogue several passages from his Hastings trial speeches. Dramatizing the Spanish conquest of Peru, and appearing just a year after the bloody 1798 Rebellion in Ireland (a crisis about which Sheridan spoke passionately), this chapter argues that Pizarro represents a theatrical meditation on the failure of humanitarian rhetoric to prevent colonial atrocity—in India and Ireland. If Sheridan’s play finally stages a redemptive politics then this is to be found not in speech but rather in the organization of space and the performance of silence.

Keywords: India; Ireland; Pizarro; Sheridan; oratory; rebellion; speech; silence; tragedy; spectacle

Chapter.  13551 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights) ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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