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In England in the autumn of 1678, a supposed Popish Plot to murder King Charles II and install his Catholic brother, James, the Duke of York, was uncovered. The country was immediately thrown into turmoil as fear of the Roman Catholic Church and its followers overtook England's citizens, particularly those residing in London. This fear and suspicion led to what is now known as the Exclusion Crisis of 1678-1681. As the political party known as the Whigs introduced bills in Parliament to exclude James from the throne, the rest of England's citizens were left with feelings of instability about the political future of their country. This thesis looks at the effects this time of turmoil had on London's theater and its playwrights. Using Aphra Behn's The Feign'd Curtizans; or A Night's Intrigue (1679), John Dryden's The Spanish Friar; or A Double Discovery (1680), and Thomas Shadwell's The Lancashire Witches, and Tegue O' Divelly the Irish Priest (1681) as examples, this work will argue that the political instability of the time, as well the changing nature of the audience of 1679-1681, largely affected the content of the plays written during this period, making the messages of those plays politically and religiously ambiguous
A Thesis submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts.
Includes bibliographical references.
Helen Burke, Professor Directing Thesis; Candace Ward, Committee Member; Daniel Vitkus, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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