The aim of this article is to shed new light on the dramatic output of James Hogg (1770–1835), a genre of which the Ettrick Shepherd was particularly fond but which, both at the time of first publication and in twentieth-century criticism has attracted little attention. The focus will be on The Profligate Princes (1817), a tragedy where the threat of seduction to its upper-class female characters questions the profitability of their chastity. Contemporary reviewers condemned Hogg’s breach of the Aristotelian unity of action in the plot construction; however, this article argues that Hogg’s tragedy also questions the norms of sympathy and sensibility that shaped the heroine of early nineteenth-century established literature as found, for example, in the grand narrative of the National Tale. A comparative analysis with Hogg’s The Hunting of Badlewe (1813), a former version of the same tragedy, shows that the omissions Hogg made in the subsequent version of The Profligate Princes was dictated by a wish to meet the expectations of contemporary reviewers; while the intertextualities with other Hogg works, such as the novel The Three Perils of Woman (1823) and the narrative poem Mador of the Moor (1816), indicate that Hogg addresses illegitimate pregnancy quite consistently throughout his work, and that in The Profligate Princes such an audacious theme might have challenged ascendant middle-class norms of taste and decorum.


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pp. 37-53
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