Book Chapter Details
Mandatory Fields
Ó Gallchoir, Clíona
2021 July
The Golden Thread: Irish Women Playwrights, 1716-2016. Vol 1: 1716-1992
Irish Wit on the London Stage: Elizabeth Griffith's The Platonic Wife (1765)
Liverpool University Press
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Elizabeth Griffith The Platonic Wife stage Irishman woman writer patriot
Elizabeth Griffith’s first stage success, The Platonic Wife (1765), has usually been discussed in terms of its relationship to the Enlightenment feminist ideas that characterise Griffith’s prose work, and the ways in which the play offers an example of the negotiations that a woman writer was required to make with the demands of the market and social constructions of female propriety. In this essay, however, I examine an aspect of the play that has been almost entirely overlooked: its contribution to the reimagining of the “Stage Irishman” in the character of the loyal Irish servant, Patrick. A comparison of the Larpent manuscript with the published version of the play indicates that post-production changes to the script, almost certainly made in order to address criticisms of its propriety, also resulted in a significant diminution of the role played by the Irish character in the action of the play. I argue further that Griffith’s concern with offering positive portrayals of her countrymen on the London stage can be related to the burgeoning Patriot sentiment in Ireland in the 1760s.
David Clare, Fiona McDonagh, Justine Nakase
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