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Theatres of OppositionEmpire, Revolution, and Richard Brinsley Sheridan$
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David Francis Taylor

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199642847

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199642847.001.0001

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Tyranny in India

Tyranny in India

or, Britain’s Character Lost. A Tragedy

Chapter:
(p.67) 3 Tyranny in India
Source:
Theatres of Opposition
Author(s):

David Francis Taylor

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199642847.003.0004

This chapter offers a detailed examination of Sheridan’s much-celebrated speeches during the impeachment of Warren Hastings, former governor general of India, in 1787–8. It begins by reading the letters of Sir Gilbert Elliot, one of the junior managers of the trial, as well as the caricatures of William Dent, as a means of considering the ways in which the impeachment’s spectators and media framed and assessed Sheridan’s oratorical body and voice as distinctively tragic. The chapter then turns to the speeches themselves, arguing that Sheridan harnessed theatrical forms—quoting from Hamlet and drawing upon the tropes of eighteenth-century sentimental tragedy—in order to render the difficult issues of race, gender, and imperial agency legible for his metropolitan audience

Keywords:   Warren Hastings, Sheridan, trial, impeachment, oratory, tragedy, Shakespeare, body, voice, India, empire

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