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Matilda Heron: An Americanization of Camille

Gwen Ursula Preston Jensen, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

Camille was one of the most popular plays in mid-nineteenth century America. Actresses gravitated towards it and audiences relished it. This study investigates the Americanization of Alexandre Dumas fils original La dame aux camélias and the reason why the central role was such an item of interest for Americans. ^ A close study of the acting style compared with popular culture of the period suggests that with the increasing popularity of melodrama, a genre that presented clear-cut images of good and evil, it was also desired that acting present the same clear-cut interpretation of emotion. Thus, Heron's interpretation of Camille, considered to be highly emotional, fulfilled the psychological needs of mid-nineteenth century American audiences. ^ The procedure of this study follows a developmental pattern. The first chapter investigates the translation changes Heron made to Acts I and II of the Dumas fils script and her attempts to mold the play into a melodrama. Chapter Two analyzes Act III and Chapter Three completes the study with Acts IV and V. Chapter Four examines cultural trends, emphasizing Transcendentalism, and applies these trends analytically, to Heron's portrayal. Chapter Five examines five actresses of the period who played Camille; Jean Davenport, Laura Keene, Helena Modjeska, Clara Morris, and Matilda Heron, and addresses the unique contributions each brought to the role. The conclusion summarizes the importance of this role and its lasting effects. ^

Subject Area

Theater

Recommended Citation

Jensen, Gwen Ursula Preston, "Matilda Heron: An Americanization of Camille" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3116581.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3116581

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