William Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 2

By Brian Vickers | Go to book overview

34.

Jeremy Collier, from A Short View of the Immorality, and Profaneness of the English Stage

1698

Jeremy Collier (1650-1726), clergyman and controversialist, attacked the immorality of the contemporary theatre with such polemic that his book went through three editions in 1698 and produced a rage of pamphlets in the next decade. Although the controversy was mainly about Restoration drama, Shakespeare was dragged in as well, for both praise and rebuke.

[Chapter I. 'The Immodesty of the Stage']

* * *

For Modesty, as Mr. Rapin observes, is the Character of Women. To represent them without this Quality is to make Monsters of them, and throw them out of their Kind. Euripides, who was no negligent Observer of Humane Nature, is always careful of this Decorum. Thus Phœdra, when possess'd with an infamous Passion, takes all imaginable Pains to conceal it. She is as regular and reserv'd in her Language as the most virtuous Matron. 'Tis true, the force of Shame and Desire, the Scandal of Satisfying, and the Difficulty of Parting with her Inclinations, disorder her to Distraction. However, her Frensy is not Lewd; She keeps her Modesty even after She has lost her Wits. Had Shakespeare secur'd this point for his young Virgin Ophelia the Play had been better contriv'd. Since he was resolv'd to drown the Lady like a Kitten he should have set her a swimming a little sooner. To keep her alive only to sully her Reputation, and discover the Rankness of her Breath, was very cruel. But it may be said the Freedoms of Distraction go for nothing, a Fever has no Faults, and a Man non Compos may kill without Murther. It may be so: but then such People ought to be kept in dark Rooms and without Company. To shew them, or let them loose, is somewhat unreasonable. (9-10)

* * *

-87-

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William Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • General Editor's Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • I - Introduction 1
  • Note on the Text 23
  • 29. 25
  • 30. 60
  • 33. 86
  • 34. 87
  • 35. 89
  • 39. 129
  • 40. - The Persons' Names. 130
  • 41. 145
  • 43. - Advertisement to the Reader. 149
  • 44. 161
  • 45. 175
  • 47. 190
  • 48. 203
  • 50. 216
  • 51. 263
  • 53. 267
  • 54. - No. 141 (Ii August 1711) 269
  • 55. - No. 39 (14 April 1711) 272
  • 57. 298
  • 59. - No. 7 (25 April 1715) 303
  • 60. - 'Act the Second. Brutus in His Orchard. 312
  • 61. 316
  • 62. 322
  • 64. 329
  • 65. 348
  • 66. - The Preface. 352
  • 67. 366
  • 68. 369
  • 69. 373
  • 70. 398
  • 71. 403
  • 72. 419
  • 74. 426
  • 77. 449
  • 78. 458
  • 79. 464
  • 80. 469
  • 82. 475
  • A Select Bibliography of Shakespeare Criticism 1693-1733 539
  • Index 541
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