(Critical Survey of Literature, Revised Edition)

Though not so highly regarded as his VENICE PRESERVED (1682), Otway’s THE ORPHAN held the stage until the early nineteenth century and still receives a few kind words from critics. The language abounds in Shakespearian echoes, particularly of ROMEO AND JULIET, and the character of Chamont, the hot-headed brother, is very reminiscent of Laertes. The plot, supposedly founded upon an actual incident, turns upon a highly improbable situation; but such improbabilities were common in the drama of the period. The tone of the play also points forward to the sentimental drama of the next century. Otway, now an almost forgotten writer, was highly admired in his own day, and Goldsmith considered him next only to Shakespeare in tragedy.