|dc.contributor.author||Casiano, Cassandra (Cassie)
Casiano, Cassandra (Cassie). "Safe Sex--The Dislocation of Satire onto Female Characters in Eighteenth-Century Nabob Comedy: a reading of satire in Samuel Foote's The Nabob and Elizabeth Griffith's A Wife in the Right." (2009) Rice University: https://hdl.handle.net/1911/21957.
This paper won honorable mention in the 2009 Friends of Fondren Library Research Award competition (graduate research category).
Little is known of eighteenth-century dramatic performance. What remains are early printings of
scripts and performance reviews buried in archives. In order to deal with a lack of knowledge of
performance style and convention, literature scholars specializing in the eighteenth-century have
tended to ignore the period's drama as a live and interactive event and treat only the primary
dramatic text in their analyses. I offer authorial testimony and theatre reviews to support a
reading which relies upon reception theory coupled with a view of performance as cultural barter,
a la theatre anthropology.
This study identifies a trend in nabob comedy of the mid-late eighteenth century in which the
satire is dislocated onto economically enterprising female characters outside the marriage plot. I
first investigate the practicality of this dislocation onto the "safe" and less investigated female
character through a reading of a successful and often revived play by Samuel Foote--The Nabob.
I attempt to prove the prudence of this dislocation by providing evidence of severe and physical
audience reaction to the play.
I then observe another dislocation of nabob satire onto women in the little known play, Elizabeth
Griffith's A Wife in the Right. In this reading, I focus on women as a natural site for relocating
nabob satire. As established internal Other in the patriarchal British society, it is a lateral shift
for them to represent the threat of a cultural Other in British society-a threat realized by
increased international travel. The physical theatrical space foregrounds this cosmopolitan shift
in society. The staged physical representation of the female body as a canvas for wealth shown
through jewels mined in the East also figures into the female characters tendency to subsume
nabob satire in the highly visual medium of the theatre. In this play, the female nabobina figure
must be expelled from the nation in order to mitigate the threat of the internal Other-Other in
both gender and culture.
Ultimately, I argue that through the dislocation of nabob satire onto women, the dramatists make
progressive and influential statements about the increasingly diverse and cross-culturally
inflected state of British society. In Griffith's case, I offer her nabobina character as an exercise
in proto-feminism as well. All of this serves to elevate the oft dismissed genre of eighteenth-century
drama and performance as a simultaneously catalytic and reflective site of change.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
Safe Sex--The Dislocation of Satire onto Female Characters in Eighteenth-Century Nabob Comedy: a reading of satire in Samuel Foote's The Nabob and Elizabeth Griffith's A Wife in the Right