'Forc'd to limb my own Child': Nathaniel Lee's reuse of The Massacre of Paris in The Princess of Cleve and The Duke of Guise

Hayes, Joanna Louise (2022). 'Forc'd to limb my own Child': Nathaniel Lee's reuse of The Massacre of Paris in The Princess of Cleve and The Duke of Guise. University of Birmingham. M.A.

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This thesis examines the ways in which the Restoration dramatist Nathaniel Lee reuses his banned history play The Massacre of Paris in both his bawdy comedy The Princess of Cleve and the politically controversial drama The Duke of Guise, which was written in collaboration with the Poet Laureate John Dryden. Chapter 1 presents a brief biography of Lee and situates the three plays within their historical context; it concludes with a literature review. Chapter 2 examines Lee’s adaptation of Davila’s The History of the Civil Wars of France in The Massacre of Paris. Contrary to the prevailing critical view of the work as simplistic anti-Catholic propaganda, the play is shown to be a complex and nuanced tragedy. Chapter 3 demonstrates for the first time that Lee constructs his parts of The Duke of Guise to recreate the emotional orchestration of The Massacre of Paris, thus circumventing the ban upon that play in order to bring a similar work to the stage. Informed by the study of Lee’s methods of adaptation presented in Chapters 2 and 3, Chapter 4 examines the printed text of The Princess of Cleve and proposes a reconstruction of the non-extant performance text which incorporates reused material from The Massacre of Paris. This material is shown to be the mechanism by which Lee converts Lafayette’s romantic novel La Princesse de Clèves into a comedy. Chapter 5 surveys Lee’s career over the decade which elapsed between the banning of The Massacre of Paris and the play’s first performance. It presents evidence which suggests that the repeated recycling of the text was driven by Lee’s response to his changing circumstances, rather than being an indicator of his declining mental health. The interconnection and unusual construction of the three plays examined in this thesis are shown to support Lee’s claim to be an innovator of the Restoration stage, demonstrating that he continually sought new ways to create theatre which evokes a powerful emotional response from audiences.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.A.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.A.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and Creative Studies, The Shakespeare Institute
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/12207


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