Charles Macklin

Definition

Theater

  • (Charles McLaughlin; c. 1700 - 97) British tragicactor and playwright, who was the first to play Shylock inThe Merchant of Venice as a tragic rather than a comic role.Unfortunately, he is mainly remembered for killing another actor whilearguing over a wig. After stabbing the actor, one Hallam, throughthe eye with a stick in a fit of anger, Macklin attempted to helpmatters by urinating on the wounded area. At his trial for murderhe conducted his own defence and had the charge reduced to manslaughter.Instead of going to jail, he was branded on the hand and paid compensationto the dead man's family.

    Macklin made his last appearance playing Shylock at the ageof 89. Becoming confused in the second act, he told the audience hewas "seized with terror of mind" and begged their patience,adding:

    Should it be granted...you may depend upon it this willbe the last night of my ever appearing before you in so ridiculousa situation.

    Macklin also wrote several plays, including Love àla Mode (1759) and The Man of the World (1781), a work that wasinitially refused a licence owing to its mockery of the Scots. He continuedto appear on stage until the age of 90, when he retired owing to failingmemory.

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