Melodrama, realism and empire on the British stage
in Acts of supremacy
Abstract only
Log-in for full text

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

manchesterhive requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals - to see content that you/your institution should have access to, please log in through your library system or with your personal username and password.

If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/extracts and download selected front and end matter. 

Institutions can purchase access to individual titles; please contact for pricing options.


If you have an access token for this content, you can redeem this via the link below:

Redeem token

The writers of nineteenth-century spectacular melodrama made frequent use of colonial settings, particularly India and Africa. The hero in domestic melodrama is the locus for a dramatic examination of heroism and its relation to a community; his persecution focuses attention on oppositions existing within British society. But in the melodramas with colonial settings the absurd perversion of British justice vanishes. The origins of colonial melodrama in the traditions of equestrian, military and aquatic melodrama thus ensured a persistent emphasis on physical realism and historical accuracy. The exciting illogic of domestic melodrama is thus replaced by a 'realistic' lesson in the inevitable and virtuous effects of Empire. The dramatic balance provided by realistic spectacle and fantastic action would be lost in the latter half of the century, when the colonial melodrama, increasingly a vehicle for 'facts', was used to educate an English public in the business of Empire.

Acts of supremacy

The British Empire and the stage, 1790–1930


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 160 62 4
Full Text Views 33 8 0
PDF Downloads 14 7 3