Richard Steele: His Failure as a Playwright
McClure, Joan Lee
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The primary purpose of this essay is to show that Richard Steele failed as a playwright because he tried to use the stage as the medium through which he could show men as they ought to be. As a result, his plays were written for their characters; he sacrificed all other dramatic elements to this one, even though realizing that it was damaging to the dramas themselves. But Steele, because of his didacticism, thought that it was more important to create exemplary persons for his audience's benefit than to write comedies, which ridiculed or merely provided entertainment. Emphasis in this paper will therefore be placed on an analysis of Steele's characters, showing them as caricatures endowed with the Christian moral traits which he felt to be the best man could have. However, it was not just the moral traits as such that concerned Steele; rather, it was more a question of how man guides himself in order to be moral, whether he can control his passions through his reason or whether he is governed only by his passions. In his plays, Steele has dealt with both passionate and reasonable characters; it is with, an analysis of these types that I will concern myself in order to show that for Steele, reason must finally prevail for man to be virtuous and honorable.