The Rivals Historical Context

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Theater in Sheridan's time appealed to everyone who could afford to attend. Prices ranged from one to five shillings, which amounts to roughly five to twenty-five American dollars in today's monetary terms. After the license of Restoration Theater, Georgian Theater must have seemed almost prudish. Gone were the bawdy burlesques, with their ribald humor. Instead, the plays would be drawn from the new Comedy of Manners, as well as well-known stock pieces from the Shakespeare repertoire, the latter usually representing half of the season's offerings.

The newly revived and adapted Comedy of Manners plays contained a moral embedded in highly sentimentalized drama or comedy. It is this genre of sentimental comedy, also known as the comédie larmoyante ("crying comedy" ) that Sheri-dan adapted and satirized in The Rivals and The School for Scandal. For this reason, his comedies, and those of Oliver Goldsmith, were...

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The Rivals from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.