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John Banks’s Female Tragic Heroes

Reimagining Tudor Queens in Restoration She-Tragedy

Series:

Paula de Pando

In John Banks’s Female Tragic Heroes, Paula de Pando offers the first monograph on Restoration playwright John Banks. De Pando analyses Banks’s civic model of she-tragedy in terms of its successful adaptation of early modern literary traditions and its engagement with contemporary political and cultural debates. Using Tudor queens as tragic heroes and specifically addressing female audiences, patrons and critics, Banks made women rather than men the subject of tragedy, revolutionising drama and influencing depictions of gender, politics, and history in the long eighteenth century.

Series:

Paula de Pando

. However, he did not confront her with another male protagonist: instead, he chose another woman, Mary Queen of Scots, to share the lead. By presenting two heroines without a consort, Banks continued with his ongoing experiment on subverting gender dynamics on stage as distinctions between subject and

Series:

Paula de Pando

present. In Susan Staves’ words, the rediscovery of British history itself as a subject tended to force playwrights away from abstract confrontations between tyrants and usurpers and into a realization that succession to the British crown itself had not proceeded strictly according to divine right

Series:

Paula de Pando

as precursors to virtuous civic action, whereas the Stoic model understood them as harmful animalistic impulses to supress. In both models, “governance of the passions (achieved by subjecting them to the controlling influence of reason) was critical”. 4 The study of the passions, which was already

Series:

Paula de Pando

a political marriage to King Henry VIII ; Jane Grey is also the subject of familial coercion as she is forced to take the crown and swap her newly acquired domestic bliss for the tragic fate of a usurper queen. Vertue Betray’d and The Innocent Usurper are deeply ingrained in the factious

Series:

Paula de Pando

tragedy in the long eighteenth century by drawing attention to the female protagonist, but criticism in this field still gravitates between two oppositional contentions. On the one hand, actresses are perceived to be subjected to the scrutiny and exploitation of their sexuality for mercantile purposes on