Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




R. Morton


Although he has always been a controversial figure, John Dennis has recently gained credibllity as a critical thinker. As a dramatist, however, he has few proponents; his eight plays were unsuccessful and have not been regarded with much interest since their first appearance in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This thesis removes the dust from his three adaptations, Iphigenia, The Comical Gallant and The Invader of His Country, and looks at how the plays correspond to his dramatic principles.

All three of the pieces are clearly designed to support Dennis's critical ideas, but in each case there are inconsistencies between the theory and practice which contradict his thinking. Chapter one compares Iphigenia with a popular pseudo-classic tragedy of the period, Cato, to see how Dennis's criticisms of Addison's work compare to his own attempt at the style. In chapter two, I concentrate on the reasons behind the adaptations of Shakespeare's comedies, and specifically Dennis's justification for turning The Merry Wives of Windsor into The Comical Gallant Chapter three deals with the arguments against Shakespeare's tragedies during Dennis's age, and examines the critic's conviction that The Invader of his Country improves upon Coriolanus. In each chapter the adaptations are analysed in comparison to the originals, with emphasis placed on the most striking alterations.

McMaster University Library

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