German Characters

Introduction to Character Type | List of Plays | Up One Level

Introduction to Character Type

This collection contains no characters who are of German descent, which is interesting given the abundance of characters of other nationalities (e.g. French). However, there are several characters who pretend to be German. Two of these, both in plays by Foote (Taste (1752) and The Minor (1760)), adopt a false German persona to affect greater sophistication and urbanity: "You have no Conception how dear the foreign Accent is to your true Virtuoso; it announces Taste, Knowledge, Veracity, and in short every Thing" (Foote, Taste). In these plays, Puff and Sir William pretend to be Germen noblemen, although Sir William's "German" leaves something to be desired in that it is mostly made up of French expressions. The last "German" character is in Richard Brinsley Sheridan's St. Patrick's Day (1775; published 1788). In this play, the Irish Lieutenant dresses up as a German doctor as part of his plan to seduce the Justice's daughter. As in Sir William's case, the Lieutenant does not speak real German, but a haphazard combination of Latin, French and English: "Palio vivem mortem soonem" (Sheridan 25). The lack of real German characters is indicative of a relative cultural isolation; Puff, Sir William and the Lieutenant play upon the English characters' lack of understanding of the German language and culture to achieve their aims.

Works Cited:

Foote, Samuel. Taste. London: R. Francklin, 1752. Literature Online. 11 August 2008.

Sheridan, Richard Brinsley. St. Patrick's Day. London: for the Booksellers, 1788. Literature Online. 11 August 2008.

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List of Plays

Taste (Foote)

The Minor (Foote)

St. Patrick's Day (R.B. Sheridan)

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©2008 Arden Hegele