Wednesday, October 2, 2019
The Rivals as a Parody of 18th Century :: essays research papers
A significant influencing factor on drama of the eighteenth century was the changing nature of the audience. By the middle of the eighteenth century, a straitlaced middle class audience had imparted to drama its vision of morality and disapproval of anything immoral. Comedy had become watered down and sentimentalized. Furthermore, the audienceÃ¢â¬â¢s rejection of unappealing facts following the ugly reality of the French Revolution and the American War of Independence, made emotionalism and tearfulness the order of the day. Oliver Goldsmith and Richard Brinsley Sheridan were two playwrights who saw that if comedy were allowed free reign along this path of sentimentalism, it would signal the end of mirth. Both appreciated the power of pure comedy and the spirit of joyous laughter and wrote plays with situations that had no call for showing the redeeming features of vice and folly at the end, but just good healthy fun. The Rivals too denounces the hollow morality and hypocrisy associated with the sentimental attitude then prevailing, projecting its writerÃ¢â¬â¢s own ideal of a spontaneous and lively light-heartedness. The plot is based on confusion over identities and multiple suitors Ã¢â¬â a combination that leads to plenty of scope for truly funny situations: Absolute caught in the same room with both Mrs. Malaprop and Lydia present, having to play himself for one and Beverley for the other till the presence of Sir Anthony too prevents him from doing so successfully; Absolute humouring Mrs. Malaprop as himself and poking fun at her as Beverley in his note; LydiaÃ¢â¬â¢s acceptance and rejection of the same man according to her romantic whims and fancies; the final duel where one man has to fight two rivals virtually simultaneously. SheridanÃ¢â¬â¢s skill is only underlined by the fact that in an age Ã¢â¬â and the performance house in which he produced plays Ã¢â¬â where spectacle, sce nery and lighting had become indispensable to success, he achieved his comedy and triumph without recourse to any of it, merely on the strength of his own writing, wit and dialogue. Sentimentalism is found largely in the characters of Lydia and Faulkland. Sheridan attacks their traits in the overall plot and theme in which he shows how a healthy deep love can be threatened by such fanciful thinking. The only Ã¢â¬ËredeemingÃ¢â¬â¢ feature Ã¢â¬â probably in a reversal of the trend of soppy final redemptions - he shows at the end is that both are brought with a rude shock down to earth following the very real possibility of losing the partners they come to know they love deeply.