The Critic Essay

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In the following essay excerpt, the author discusses the history of Sheridan's The Critic and evaluates its status as "perhaps the most complete play about the theatre ever written."

The Critic, which was first presented on 30 October 1779, is perhaps the most complete play about the theater ever written. It was both occasional entertainment and burlesque, topically oriented and aimed at posterity, a local development and an echo of an eternal form. From Aristophanes's The Acharnians to Shakespeare's "Pyramus and Thisbe," to Fletcher's Knight of the Burning Pestle, to Buckingham's Rehearsal, to Fielding's Tragedy of Tragedies or Pasquin, the comic dramatic urge at self-reflection has surfaced brilliantly. But the examples from the 1770s which influenced Sheridan failed to achieve lasting fame largely because they are too local, too tied to contemporary situations and personalities; only Garrick's A Peep behind the Curtain approaches the proper balance between timeliness and timelessness...

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This section contains 6,389 words
(approx. 16 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Critic Study Guide
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The Critic from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.