Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

English

Major Professor

Marty Gould

Keywords

Crummles, Geraldine Jewsbury, Mansfield Park, Nicholas Nickleby, the antitheatrical prejudice, The Half-Sisters

Abstract

The concept of the Victorian antitheatrical prejudice is both well-established and well-respected. This paper, however, examining the Victorian theatrical novel and the Victorian theater in terms of that prejudice, finds the ready assumption of the prejudice to be problematic at best. A close look at three novels that together span the early to mid-nineteenth century shows that, far from being ubiquitous and unilateral, antitheatricality was in many cases an anomaly; indeed, many of those novelistic elements that have long been assumed to be antitheatrical address different issues altogether. Employing close readings of the novels--Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, Charles Dickens's Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, and Geraldine Endsor Jewsbury's The Half-Sisters--along with an examination of historical documents, and utilizing as well current scholarship in Victorian theater and theatrical novels, I demonstrate that the Victorians were instead keen appreciators of theater, and that the Victorian "antitheatrical novel" was in many cases far more interested in the authenticity of human interplay than in the inauthenticity of staged role-play.

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