This essay focuses on Richard Lalor Sheil, one of the forgotten names in British and Anglo-Irish drama and theatre of the Romantic period, as crucial to an examination of the contaminated nature of the tragic on the Romantic stage. Written and performed between 1814 and 1819, his plays—Adelaide, The Apostate, Bellamira, and his greatest success, Evadne—combine Gothic and melodramatic features, Renaissance models, and Orientalist themes, together with references to topical political issues and ideological concerns. The intricacies of Irish and British politics after 1800 and the international developments in post-Napoleonic Europe leave visible traces in Sheil's dramaturgy, which, in turn, plays a central role in the emergence of liberally-inspired dramatic and theatrical practices on the London stage between the late first decade and the early second decade of the nineteenth century. As the hybrid qualities of these plays are keyed to specific political and ideological concerns, they offer an important contribution to our understanding of the discontinuities in Romantic-period tragic writing for current literary-historical reconstructions and critical debates.


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pp. 249-267
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