The flourishing of female playwriting on the Augustan stage: Mary Pix’s "The innocent mistress"

José M. Yebra

Abstract


This article aims at analysing Mary Pix’s The Innocent Mistress (1697) as a paradigmatic example of the boom in female playwriting at the end of the seventeenth century in England. It is my main aim to determine whether and to what extent Pix’s play can be considered a derivative or innovative text. In other words, does The Innocent Mistress stick to the reformist atmosphere prevailing at the end of the seventeenth century or, on the contrary, is the play fully indebted to the hard Restoration drama of the 1670s? In contrast to the classic view of the Restoration stage as a monolith, this essay shows the evolution from the libertarian Carolean plays to the essentially reformist Augustan drama, and the impact and role of women’s writing in this process. Thus, after briefly delving into the main traits of both traditions –especially those concerning gender relations– my essay concludes that The Innocent Mistress proves to be clearly a product of its time, adapting recurrent Carolean devices to Augustan Reformism, but also the product of a female playwright and her limited room for transgression.

Keywords


Female playwrights; comedy; Carolean drama; Augustan drama; moral reformism

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18172/jes.2828

Copyright (c) 2014 José M. Yebra

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© Universidad de La Rioja, 2013

ISSN 1576-6357

EISSN 1695-4300