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Part 3: the critical heritage of Rowe’s late plays

Within a month of the premiere of Jane Shore the Daily Courant (23 February 1714, issue 3848) advertised A Review of the Tragedy of Jane Shore. Assuming the nature of a well-tempered critic, its anonymous author interrogated the majority-held opinion that Jane Shore was Rowe’s most superior play to date. Waving aside Rowe’s disregard for the Aristotelian dramatic principles of the three unities as a piece of ‘laborious Contrivance’ not worth adhering to, the author pens a highly defensive review of Rowe’s play, and indeed of Rowe’s protagonist, Jane Shore.32 Contemporary pamphlets attacked Shore as a morally unfi t lead for a tragedy due to her adulterous past, but here it was argued that this immoral past rendered her more relatable to audiences, and therefore more suited to inspire moral instruction.