Abstract

This article investigates the genesis, staging, and reception of Richard Cumberland’s The Jew (1794), a sentimental comedy designed with the express purpose of ridding England of its anti-Jewish prejudices through the medium of performance. Cumberland’s play centered on the benevolence of Sheva, a figure created expressly to counter Shakespeare’s Shylock, so that the staging of this benevolent Jew would generate a sense of “fellow-feeling” in spectators that subsequently enabled them to put aside bias. While audiences on both sides of the Atlantic were profoundly moved by watching The Jew, their deepest emotion was consciousness of their own virtue and that of their nation, demonstrating the power and ultimately ephemeral nature of sentiment in performance.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 457-477
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-06
Open Access
No
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