‘Systems of Terror’

David Francis Taylor

in Theatres of Opposition

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199642847
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738869 | DOI:
‘Systems of Terror’

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


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The final chapter looks at the relationship between, on the one hand, scenes of imprisonment in new Gothic dramas staged at Drury Lane in the 1790s and, on the other, the images of incarceration deployed in Sheridan’s parliamentary speeches opposing the suspension of Habeas Corpus and the detention of radical activists during the same period. Reading scenography rather than dialogue, dramatic spaces rather than dramatic words, I suggest that Sheridan’s rhetoric and the repertory of his playhouse can be understood as operating within the same representational continuum: both posited carceral space as a site of pain, deprivation, and solitude, and both offered the prison as a symbol of the Pitt government’s institutionalization of violence

Keywords: Prison; radical; pain; Sheridan; violence; freedom; oppression; Habeas Corpus; scenography; solitary confinement

Chapter.  11783 words. 

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

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