Without God Or Reason

Without God Or Reason
Author : Christopher J. Wheatley
Publisher : Bucknell University Press
Total Pages : 201
Release : 1993
ISBN 10 : 0838752438
ISBN 13 : 9780838752432
Language : EN, FR, DE, ES & NL

Without God Or Reason Book Description:

"This book deals with Restoration ethics and - at length - with the works of Thomas Shadwell, author of extraordinarily successful plays including The Squire of Alsatia (1688). In Squire, the hero discards a mistress with whom he has had a child, seduces the daughter of a lawyer, lies to father and guardian, and, in the fifth act, promises to reform and be a faithful husband to a convenient heiress. Modern critics have argued that Shadwell was either a fool or a knave when he claimed, in the prologue to the play, to be writing morally instructive drama. Yet - as Christopher J. Wheatley points out - in his own lifetime Shadwell (frequently a target of satire on political, religious, and aesthetic grounds) seems not to have been attacked for moral hypocrisy despite his repeated claims that drama should be morally instructive. In investigating the real reasons for Shadwell's waning popularity, Wheatley uncovers much about the history of ethics." "The introduction to this book examines the ways in which critical misconceptions about the history of ethics and literary representations of ethical beliefs hinder an understanding of Restoration literature. The first chapter posits that ethical obligation in The Squire of Alsatia is based on one's role in society. It also holds that the foundations of such a role-based ethos are custom and prudential judgments about social consequences, rather than divine law or universality of ethical principles. The second chapter examines a wide variety of sources (philosophical and theological works, courtesy books, and popular literature) to explore how a dialectical tension between traditional ethical systems and skepticism about God and reason could make a role-based ethic an acceptable option for dramatic representation to a Restoration audience." "Subsequent chapters show that an ethic based on social role and custom is consistent with the body of Shadwell's works and the didactic component of Shadwell's drama undergoes little change even after the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688 that made him Poet Laureate. The book also argues that the emergent concept of "mutual love" is central to Shadwell's ethics as the force that draws gentlemen from destructive rakish behavior to their role as guardians of community stability. The last chapter examines the logical incoherence a role-based ethic generates in Shadwell's plays, particularly in the portrayal of women. Wheatley speculates that the divorce of role from obligation becomes the dominant ideology, at least as represented on the stage in the seventeenth century, and that this shift in ethical belief contributes to the decline of Shadwell's reputation."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


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