Issue 3 (January 2021):
Reform in the Long-Nineteenth Century
'"Liberty joined with Peace and Charity": Elizabeth Inchbald and a Woman’s Place in the Revolution'
Eva Lippold - Coventry University
Eighteenth-century Drama; Inchbald; French Revolution; Women Writers; Mary Wollstonecraft; Politics.
While the French Revolution was one of the defining events of the eighteenth century, it is conspicuously absent from female-authored plays of the time. By the 1790s, women had been using the drama genre to write insightful commentary on other political issues for some time, but writing about the Revolution was accompanied by particular challenges in the form of censorship and increased concerns about sedition.
Elizabeth Inchbald’s 1792 drama The Massacre represents an exception to the stage’s general reticence on the topic. While the play was not staged and the Revolution never named as explicit inspiration for the plot, Inchbald provides a detailed and moving account of the Revolution. This article analyses her perspective on the role and potential of female morality as a means for political change, focussing on the significance of Inchbald’s inclusion of Madame Tricastin as a tragic martyr figure who condemns the Revolution’s descent into violence. It also contextualises the unique place that both the Revolution and this particular play occupy in Inchbald’s writing career.
Eva Lippold works at Coventry University's Academic Writing Centre. She obtained her BA and MA at Anglia Ruskin University, and her PhD at Loughborough University, where her thesis explored the work of female playwrights in the eighteenth-century London theatre. Her essay, 'I told the Scrib'ling Dame: Women's Voices in Epilogues and Dialogues' was recently published in The Female Spectator (Chawton House, Winter 2020), and she is a contributor to the Anne Lister Diary Transcription Project.
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