Richard Brinsley Sheridan Writing Styles in The Rivals

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The Comedy of Manners hails from the Restoration period (1660-1700), but was revived a hundred years later toward the end of the eighteenth century by Richard Sheridan and his contemporary Oliver Goldsmith. While Restoration comedy was bawdy and playfully lewd, the eighteenth-century version is refined and genteel. Both satirize the affected manners of sophisticated society. Often the plot revolves around a love affair, which takes the form of a pitched battle with words as weapons. The dialogue is witty and characters are distinguished by their ability to match wits with their partners. Characters are usually thinly drawn, representing types rather than individual personalities. Emphasis is placed on the language, such as wit and clever double-entendres, rather than the characters' motives or actions.

The Comedy of Manners of the eighteenth century served a different audience than that of the Restoration period. Whereas the early Comedy of...

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