Fedalma — ‘The Angel of a Homeless Tribe’: Issues of Religion, Race and Gender in George Eliot’s Poetic Drama, The Spanish Gypsy
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In 1868 George Eliot published The Spanish Gypsy, a ‘tragic play in blank verse, laid in 1487’.1 The poem in the original Blackwood edition has 28 lines to a page and runs into some 358 pages. It is divided into five separate books. Although the poem is in the main in blank verse it still retains the semblance of a dramatic production, mirroring its original draft inception, begun in 1864–5, laid aside by Eliot and rewritten and amplified in 1867 after a visit to Spain. There are explicit ‘scene-setting’ locations and character changes with ‘stage’ descriptions and ‘sets’ written into the text. The blank verse is largely as dialogue between characters, internal monologues of the principal protagonists with further insertion of longer narratives of geographical topography. Within the verse form of the poem are assimilated various lyrics and songs which are performed by the poet, Juan, and a lame boy, Pablo. These lyrics serve particular dramatic ends in linking the past, present and future events with an especial emotional resonance similar to the function of the chorus within classical literature. Other features of the composition include the rupture of the blank verse with a transition to prose narrative and the occasional use of the epistolary form to act as a device to bring together the various sub-plots within the piece.
KeywordsClassical Literature Verse Form Prose Narrative Tragic Play Domestic Hearth
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