Saturday, 7 July 2012

Thomas Otway Venice Preserv'd

David Garrick as Jaffier and Susannah Maria Cibber as Belvidera in Venice Preserv-d at the Drury Lane Theatre 1762-63 by Johann Zoffany

Lowry refers to Thomas Otway's Venice Preserv'd Chapter 3 of Ultramarine during a long internal dialogue by Dana Hilliot as he muses after his drunken drift through the red light district of Dairen; "dream of lutes, laurels, seas of milk, and ships of amber." (Pg. 111). The character Belvidera says these words in her mad scene, from Thomas Otway's tragedy Venice Preserv'd..

Venice Preserv'd is an English Restoration play written by Thomas Otway, and the most significant tragedy of the English stage in the 1680s. It was staged first in 1682, with Thomas Betterton as Jaffeir and Elizabeth Barry as Belvidera.

Lowry may have been alluding to the feminist issues apparent in Otway's play as Dana Hilliot muses about rescuing the prostitute Olga Sologub from the brothel in Dairen. Dana was also concerned that if he took Olga back to the ship that hte crew would fight over to have "their home comforts"

The play was written in the Restoration period, when the legal protections for women were few, the emotional heart of the play is the vulnerability of women. Aquillina, the play's courtesan, is shown very little regard by the men in the play. Her lover, Pierre, refuses to reveal the plot against the Senate to her, suggesting that women shouldn't talk out of bed, and Antonio never calls her by her name, but refers to her only as his "little Nacky" (a slang term for a woman's genitalia). Belvidera is reduced to collateral when she is left in the hands of men her husband barely knows. Read more on Wikipedia

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