Jane Shore

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A: Nicholas Rowe Pf: 1714, London Pb:c.1713 G: Trag. in 5 acts; blank verse S: London, 1483 C: 6m, 2f, extrasRichard, Duke of Gloucester, is preparing to seize the throne. Hastings intercedes on behalf of Jane Shore, the former King's mistress, now destitute. Richard rightly suspects that Hastings wants to have Jane for himself. Jane's husband appears, disguised as Dumont, and is taken on as her servant. Encountering Hastings attempting to rape Jane, Dumont fights with him but spares his life. A jealous friend Alicia, who is in love with Hastings, tells Richard that Jane is plotting with Hastings against him. When Jane refuses to support Richard's claim to the throne, Richard denounces her and Hastings. Jane is condemned to die miserably on the streets, while Hastings is to be executed. Alicia goes mad with guilt. Dumont finds Jane starving in the street, and she dies in his arms. Dumont is arrested for offering her support, against Richard's decree.

A: Nicholas Rowe Pf: 1714, London Pb:c.1713 G: Trag. in 5 acts; blank verse S: London, 1483 C: 6m, 2f, extras

As in Dryden's rewriting of Antony and Cleopatra in All for Love, Rowe here offers not so much a watered-down version of Richard III as a much more concentrated view of one episode taken from Shakespeare's history. Unlike Dryden, we now find ourselves in a domestic world, in which means of financial support become more important than the leading of armies, the perfidy of friends more significant than the betrayal of rulers. By introducing a more accessible and democratic view of tragedy and by giving prominence to the more subtle and passive character of the female hero, Rowe begins to undermine notions of conventional tragedy: ‘No princes here lost royalty bemoan, But you shall meet with sorrows like your own.’

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

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