After having read Hannah Cowley’s The Belle Stratagem, I have come to the conclusion that this play, while not abysmal, leaves me uninterested. There comes a moment where the never-ending re-appearance of masquerade scenes in Restoration and seventeenth century plays begins to annoy me (and this is one of those moments). Anyway, regardless of my dislike for this play, I will try to address its themes and formulate some ideas concerning it (don’t expect anything insightful).

Like the other various Restoration and seventeenth century plays that we have encountered throughout the course, Cowley’s play opposes “the fundamental affront to human dignity inherent in the marriage of convenience”(Vernon 381) that is similarly rejected in Restoration plays according to P.F. Vernon. Letitia Hardy reveals her opposition to a marriage of convenience to Doricourt in passages such as “never to be his wife will afflict/ me less than to be his wife and not be beloved” (Cowley III. 18-19) and “The woman that has/not touched the heart of a man before he leads her/ to the altar has scarcely a chance to charm it when/ possession and security turn their powerful arms/ against her” (Cowley III. 23-27). However, unlike the past plays, in order to avoid a marriage of convenience, Letitia resolves to convert her marriage to Doricourt into one of love rather than convenience. Traditionally, in plays like The Rover, Florinda would seek to reject Don Vincentio and his fortune in order to achieve a marriage of love with Belvile. Anyway, Cowley’s play provides an interesting deviation from the traditional means of opposing marriages of convenience.

Another interesting aspect of the play is its overt hatred or disliked of the “foreign” and the habits of other nations.For instance, the play’s final call for “British ladies” (Cowley V.v. 322) to keep the grace of modesty and avoid “foreign graces” (Cowley V.v. 323) reinforces the supposed superiority of Britain over other countries. Earlier in the play, Doricourt even proclaims that Englismen “make the/ best soldiers, citizens, artisans, and philosophers/ in the world” (Cowley I. iii. 17-19) and claims that he uses a French footman like a Roman slave because they are “naturally” humble and obedient. Despite this defense, Saville still opposes this custom and, in my opinion, I think that Cowley meant for a seventeenth century audience to do so as well. In fact, Doricourt rejects Letitia’s “English beauty” (Cowley I.iii. 82) because it lacks the spirit found in “the resistless charmers of Italy and France” (Cowley I. iii. 75-76). Thus, his ignorance of Letitia’s true worth is attributed to the corrupting influence of foreign practices, which must be corrected before he can realize Letitia’s superiority to Italian and French women and happily marry her. In the introduction to the play, Linda R. Payne claims that these “nationalistic themes” (978) are the result of “the revolt of the American colonies and tensions with France” (973). Thus, Cowley’s play reinforces an inflexible form of intolerance towards other nations and races that is typical of the seventeenth century.

Tied to this reinforcement of national divides, Cowley also denigrates active women with “spirit” which she associates with Italy and France while glorifying the trait of humility and modesty in women (in other words, passivity and submission to men). Both Letitia and Lady Frances are re-cast into submissive roles at the play’s end. In the final act, after she reveals her true identity to Doricourt, Letitia tells him “You see I can be anything. Choose then/ my character. Your taste shall fix it. Shall I be an/ English wife? Or, […] step forth to the world in all the captivating glare of foreign manners?” (Cowley V.v. 278-282). Here, Letitia submits to her husband, Doricourt, and gives him the power to determine her character. Of course, he chooses to have her be a modest and passive “English” woman rather than be active like the women of Italy and France.
Despite Sir George’s misogynisitc rant against Town women and their deviation from his passive ideal, Lady Frances’s entry into Town life does, in fact, almost ends in tragedy as Courtall tries to dishonour her and she consequently rejects this lifestyle. For instance, after she has averted this danger, she declares “The danger I was /in has overset a new system of conduct that/, perhaps, I was too much inclined to adopt. But henceforward, my dear Sir George, you shall be my constant companion and protector. And when they ridicule the unfashionable monsters, the felicity of our hearts shall make their satire pointless” (Cowley. V. iii. 16-22). At this moment, Lady Frances rejects the active lifestyle of Mrs. Racket and embraces a submissive role to her husband, Sir George. Thus, both Letitia and Lady Frances choose submission to their husbands and confine themselves within a patriarchal framework.

If there is one female character that is not entirely submissive to men, it is Mrs. Racket, who is independent in this patriarchal society because she is a widow. However, she is characterized as merely a side character to the actions of Letitia and Lady Frances, the play’s representatives of feminine virtue (in the eyes of Cowley). However, Mrs. Racket remains consistently independent throughout the play (I think), although no other female characters follow her example.

As in most Restoration plays, the role of the fool is present and given to Flutter. Another convention that I am tired of seeing. Likewise, the play’s final revelation to Doricourt is well developed, but, again, how I have seen too many revelation scenes in the fifth act of past plays to care anymore.

Well, this is my final post unless I decide to post some comments on Oroonoko, which I have not yet commented on. If I did, I have no idea what I would write about and calling on a Restoration play for its racism seems pointless (and too self-evident). Oh well, I’ll figure something out.

First thing, I wish that I had written my final essay on this play instead of The Way of the World.  In my essay, I had posited Congreve’s play as a well-structured critique of the illusive masks worn in the public sphere (particularly, through the characterization of Lady Wishfort). However, Joseph Surface is a much better example. Evidently, his name “Surface” underlines the artificial mask of sentiment that he consistently wears in the public sphere. Through the discovery of his true rakish self, Surface is punished to a greater extent for his hypocrisy than Wishfort ever was. Sheridan’s play also opposes the world of scandal and dishonour by revealing how such stories can be entirely fabricated. In one particular scene, Crabtree, Benjamin, and Mrs. Candor all fabricate facts about the discovery of Joseph’s treachery and Sir Peter’s humiliation. Benjamin and Crabtree even debate about whether Sir Peter was “thrust in a segoon, quite through his left side” (Sheridan V. ii. 78) or wounded by “a bullet lodged in the thorax” (Sheridan V.ii. 79). Thus, Sheridan parodies this public fabrication of private events through this scene. Finally, Sheridan’s rejection of “sentiment” or public masks is solidified when Sir Peter declares to Rowley “Hold, Master Rowley! If you have any regard for/ me, never let me hear you utter anything like a/ sentiment. I have had enought of them to serve me/ the rest of my life” (Sheridan V.iii. 287-290). At this moment, Sir Peter realizes how his false praise towards Joseph has only helped him mask his corrupt character and he now acknowledges “the fewer we praise, the better” (Sheridan V. ii. 207).

However, although the play critizes the hypocrisy of men of sentiment like Joseph, Charles, a minor rake, must still follow the road of the penitent rake and reform at the play’s end. While he does not completely reform in the end, he is expected to by Sir Oliver and the audience. On a side note, I did find it amusing that, although Charles is repeatedly depicted by others as an extravagant rake, he is rather tame. However, the difference between his image in the public sphere and his actual character further underlines the illusiveness of an individual’s public image (like that of Joseph). 

One aspect that I really liked in the play is Charles’ metatheatrical moment in the final act where he asks the audience’s consent on whether he should marry Maria with the line “You can indeed each anxious fear remove,/ For even scandal dies if you approve” (Sheridan V.iii. 295-296). Metatheatrical moments like this or Prospero’s address to the audience in The Tempest are always interesting. Unfortunately, by asking the audience to decide upon Maria’s marriage with their clapping (I assume), she is given very little choice in the matter.

 In addition, Sir Oliver’s continous masks reminded me of the Colonel in A Bold Stroke for a Wife and his plan to manipulate a public mask in order to achieve a personal goal. Like Centlivre’s play, School of Scandal also possesses a discovery scene in which all of the play’s dominant characters (Charles, Lady Sneerwell, Joseph, etc) are exposed to a revelation by Sir Oliver.

In addition, I also found it interesting that, although Lady Teazle putsher temporary sexual desire for Joseph into action by going to his home, it is Joseph, the seducer, who is primarily punished for his adulterous lifestyle (like Fainall in The Way of the World). Usually, adulterous or “fallen” women like Mrs. Marwood, Angellica, Calista, Lucy in The Beggar’s Opera punished for their sexual transgressions or desires, thus reinforcing a sexual double standard. In this play, there is virtually no such criticism or denigration of Lady Teazle after her intentions are discovered and only Joseph is punished for his excessive use of sexuality (to achieve his goals). One could argue that, because Lady Teazle does not have sexual relations with Joseph, she is free from this social stigmatization. However, her initial desire to do so remains sincere and it is interesting that Sir Peter easily forgives her and re-unites with her (not overtly interesting though). The only other Restoration characters, who are able to circumvent the social ostracization usually caused by the sexual exploits or desires of women, are the ladies of quality in The Country Wife (unless I am forgetting one). 

On a final note, why would anyone trust like Lady Sneerwell trust a character named Snake? Didn’t they read Genesis? Oh well.

Due to the insane degree of work that I have had recently, I have been unable to write my thoughts about Susanna Centlivre’s “A Bold Stroke for a Wife”. Now, that I have time, I will write whatever idea comes to my head about the play in question. First, I must write that this play has been one of my favourites in the course (outside The Country Wife or The Rover), although that may not be saying much because I am not even particularly ecstatic about the plays that I considered good (no, The Fair Penitent is not one of them).

Like Behn’s The Rover, an absent father figure (dead, in this case) is the cause of Ann Lovely’s troubles. Due to her father’s past hate for “posterity” (Centlivre I. i. 85), he sought to prevent his daughter from marrying by placing “in the case of four men as opposite to each other as light and darkness” (Centlivre I.i. 93-95)  who are to decide her marriage partner.

Again, like Mirabell in The Way of the World, the Colonel uses deceitful means in order to obtain the love of Ann Lovely and her inheritance. Thus, he relies on diverse public masks in order to accomplish his private goal (a course of attack also manipulated by Horner who manipulates a public mask as a eunuch or Waitwell whose mask is Sir Rowland). Furthermore, in the Colonel’s affection for Ann Lovely, money and love are interlinked once again and the strict opposition to the presence of money in relationships (as in marriages of convenience) is again reduced in this play.

Centlivre’s play also reflects the effect of Collier’s tract against stage in that it seems to tone down references to sexuality and reduce the presence of rakish characters in order to conform to a moral standard. The Colonel does not appear to be a “reformed rake” like Mirabell and he consistently pursues a monogamous relationship throughout the play.

The Colonel’s adventures among the four wards were also very comical and his diverse masks contrasted with his private self revealed in his conversations with Freeman. Thus, the division between the private self and his public mask is underlined as a result (a recurring theme or aspect of these Restoration comedies). This hypocrisy is also underlined through Obadiah Prim who strives to keep a mask of respectability and moral purity, even though her “naked breasts troubleth my outward man” (II.ii 52-53) and reveal his repressed sexual desire for Ann (in adition, he even asked Mary to “show you a little, little bit of her delicious bubby” (II.ii. 106-107)).

As for Ann Lovely, her character is particularly interesting in that she is consistently in opposition to the actions of Mrs. Prim and Obadiah (such as the attempt to force her to wear “proper” clothes such as a “pinched cap and formal hood” (Centlivre II.i).  Despite her constant rebellion, she must still rely on a male character, the Colonel, in order to save her from captivity ( thus reinforcing traditional gender stereotypes) while simultaneously preserving her “honour”. In addition, marriage is once again posited as her the most desirable end for a woman like Lovely. 

While reading the play, I was also wondering whether Sackbut was one of the first positive representations of a character below the higher classes or the aristocracy (although he could be middle class or higher, so I may be wrong).

As for John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, it was arguably the most unique play that we have read so far in that it was primarily composed of lower class characters. I did not like it as much as A Bold Stroke for a Wife, although I did not think the latter play to be good neither. Like the Fair Penitent, I wish the Beggar’s Opera never existed. The group in class already revealed how the play was a satirical attack on the subject matter of the conventional Italian opera as well as Prime Minister Robert Walpole (probably spelled that wrong).

While it was the most unique play so far, it was also probably one of the most misogynistic or patriarchal play in the class because it reinforced the traditional sexual double standard between men and women by characterizing Lucy as an unalterably “fallen” woman and indulging in the licentious and rakish behaviour of Macheath. Unlike Lucy, Macheath is not punished for his promiscuous behaviour and is saved at the play’s end by the Beggar. Then again, virtually all of the plays in this course reinforced this double standard (and this is not surprising for Restoration and eighteenth century plays). While reading the play, I kept trying to find a descriptive noun for women that was not “hussy,” “slut,” or “wench”. Alas, I could not find a lot of words that were truly different from these examples.

On a side note, it is interesting to see the resurgence of a rakish character like Horner and Willmore after the excessive exploits of the libertine had disappeared at the beginning of the eighteenth century due to Jeremy Collier’s tract against the theatre. Similarly, the reversal of the traditional comedy’s idealization of marriage (as in A Bold Stroke for A Wife) for women was an original addition. However, because it was done in such a comical fashion, Gay was not attempting to discredit society’s conventional imposition of marriage upon women.

While I will probably write more in specific in relation to the Beggar’s Opera (considering I wrote very little and mostly unoriginal thoughts), I will stop for now and work on various essays, all of which will contribute to my eventual nervous breakdown.

While I do like some works that would be considered post-modern and existentialist literature, particularly that of Albert Camus (although his work is more closely associated with the Theatre of the Absurd), Wild Abandon will never be one of them. Someone could easily call the play “pretentious” or dismiss it as the product of a pseudo-intellectual, but both statements would be too harsh (and misleading) while saying absolutely nothing of the play itself. In my opinion, the play is just the opposite: too naive and simplistic in its portrayal of the existentialist crisis of Steve as well as in its facile resolution. The play’s writing was also not very strong and it felt like the writer was cherrypicking (or regurgitating) already overused existentialist themes while incorporating them into his play and hoping for the best. After delving considerably into Steve’s existential ennui and pessimistic view of life (which revolves around Shit), the play offers an idealistic exit from the isolated void within himself through a free and fluid embrace of the external world and everything (through his “fourth” dance). Steve’s sudden conversion to this philosophy is so abrupt as to appear like an unconvincing character shift created merely to resolve the play’s dilemma (or Steve’s) and leave the audience with a hopeful ending (unless one could interpret it negatively). I also couldn’t help thinking that Steve waiting for the egg to hatch was merely a symbolic substitute for Estragon and Vladimir’s waiting for Godot (the theme of waiting for a revelation that will never occur) and that I’ve seen it before in a much better play (I love Beckett). In fact, while I was watching Wild Abandon, I wished that I was seeing Beckett’s play instead of the one presently on stage.

On a side note, the choice of music in the scenes varied from good to abysmally poor (personal opinion, once again). The use of the screen was an original addition to the play, although it did nothing to increase my interest in the play (still, got to give it points for originality, I guess). Lastly, the actor’s dedication to the material was admirable and he did a respectable job with it (I am being very lenient here and this last sentence may tinged with a form of unconscious sarcasm or it could be genuinely sincere. I’ll leave it up to you to decide).

On a side note, the reader of the above review should be aware that my snobbish pose is just that a pose and the review is not a serious critique of the play, but a joke to please my fancy. If I was seriously reviewing the play, it would, in fact, be much worse (I kid, I kid).

 As for Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit, I really liked it and enjoyed all the performances within it. As Garcin, Tim Turnell was quite good, although I’ve seen him do better. Dr. Bell and Jones were likewise fun to watch and delivered good performances as Estelle and Ines. The setting was minimalist (three Second Empire seats and a mantelpiece with an aesthetically displeasing statue) and this minimalism was suitable for the play because it focused the audience’s attention on the play’s characters and thus the performances at hand. However, the main reason that I enjoyed No Exit more than Wild Abandon is the superiority of the writing (“Hell is other people,” great line) and the development of its themes (overall, Sartre’s play is just better constructed and structured than Wild Abandon). Now, I know that post-modern works like The Wild Abandon are intentionally fragmented, but often there is an underlying structure that makes it all work. Despite Wild Abandon’s attempt to cover many diverse themes of existentialism and fill the play with an excess of content, No Exit seemed a better expression of the themes often linked to existentialism, even though it appeared a simpler play (in my opinion, it is a more complicated play than Wild Abandon). 

Occasionally, a simpler structure or approach to a theme can produce a better artistic product than the mental mastubatory musings of a bad playwright (no, I am not referring to Daniel MacIvor here, even I would find that a bit much). An example of this would be Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief (it’s a very simplistic neo-realist film, but also an amazing film).   

I would write more on Dr. Moore’s No Exit, but there is very little to criticize. However, I may write some more on the play later or talk in specifics about the play’s themes. I will eventually post something on Susanna Centlivre’s A Bold Stroke for a Wife. I’ve been too busy trying to decide where to go for graduate studies to post about it earlier. So, that is all for now. Unfortunately, I just realized that I only had to review No Exit and not Wild Abandon, why do I bother?

While I don’t have much to say about this play, I will write whatever comes to my twisted little mind. In comparison to The Fair Penitent, this was the best play ever written. However, when looked upon in isolation, it is only a marginally good play. Good enough though. The dialogue between Mrs. Sullen and Sullen is actually quite funny at times (well, to a certain extent, anyway) and Mrs. Sullen is probably one of my favourite characters so far. The various hijinks of Archer were also interesting. The excessive amount of characters arbitrarily entering the narrative was a little confusing at first, but not to the point that I was ever lost.

 As for the play’s themes, this play is heavily concerned with the pursuit of money and how it is intermingled with private desire (as in the case of Aimwell and Archer and the constant attempt of Bonniface and other highwaymen to trick others in order to get money). In past plays like Behn’s The Rover, relationships, which involved money (such as marriages of convenience), were highly criticized and, in this play, they are opposed to a much lesser extent.

 It is also interesting to note that, although Mrs. Sullen benefits considerably from her divorce from Sullen, like Lesbia’s marriage to Beaumine in Trotter’s Love at a Loss, the divorce is decided primarily decided by other characters, mostly male characters such as Sir Charles and and Archer. At least, it appears that the divorce is primarily presided over by them. Her freedom from social constraint thus appears not entirely of her own making (not very surprising for a Restoration play written in a patriarchal context).

In addition, like most of the Restoration plays that we have read, the play offers an extreme form of marriage in which a woman has no freedom while it tries to remove from these social constraints, so that she can satisfy her private desires, while still following her public duties in this patriarchal society. In plays like The Country Wife or The Rover, the extremes of marriage such as forced marriages and marriages of convenience are criticized, although marriage itself is never actually disparaged by the playwrights. 

 Unlike The Way of the World which reveals the excessive behaviour of Lady Wishfort, the play also does not attack the social conventions concerning a woman’s honour because Mrs. Sullen never seeks to achieve her private desires with Archer while married. In fact, most of the Restoration plays, which we have read, do not strongly attack the concept of honour and reputation, even though rakish characters like Willmore do so (and their criticism is never really taken seriously). The exceptions may be The Country Wife and The Way of the Word.

On a side note, I may go see No Exit on Thursday and will post my comments afterwards. Will comment on Susanna Centlivre’s A Bold Stroke for a Wife soon enough.

Sorry for the horrible title, but I couldn’t think of anything else. As can be seen in Trotter’s play, active women like Lesbia are unable to pursue their true desires due to the restrictions of society (she is “divided between love and honor” (Trotter V.iv. 240). While Lucilia and Phillabell as well as Miranda and Constant get married in accordance with their own wishes, Lesbia forfeits her preferred lover Grandfoy after she allows her future marriage partner to be “put […] to the vote” (V.iv. 254) by a public forum of friends and strangers. As a result, she is forced to marry Beaumine and conform to her former marriage vow to him. While the play’s end appears tragic in that Lesbia loses her lover Grandfoy, this end is chosen by Trotter because, in her view, Lesbia breaking her marriage vow is implicitly worse than her freely choosing Grandfoy.  Lesbia even admits “his right is indisputable” (V.iv. 281) and conforms to the traditional belief that men hold a right to possess women if a woman promises to marry him. A man could easily forfeit his marriage promise to a woman without any social condemnation, but, when a woman does it, it can destroy her “honor”.

 Likewise, in Rowe’s The Fair Penitent, Calista also experiences a tragic end due to the patriarchal forces against her as well as society’s sexual double standard that privileges men above women. By the way, I should probably express my intense hate for this play, which I consider to be the worst play in this course so far (and, arguably, the worst play that I have ever read). I do not think that it is a coincidence that Rowe’s play ends on the page 666 of our text book and I suspect that Satan indirectly manipulated Nicholas Rowe to create this abysmal play as a means to torture future English undergradutates such as myself and lead them to commit suicide, so as to escape the world that created such bad art. There is no greater crime than bad art and I can only hope Rowe was subsequently hanged after the play’s first performance  (I kid, I kid) and the play itself then faded into obscurity. Alas, this did not happen and I am forced to write a blog about it.

Now, back to my theme. Despite lines like “How hard is the condition of our sex!/ Through ev’ry state of life the slaves of man” (III.i. 40-41) and Calista’s own desire to “Shake off this vile obedience they exact,/ And claim an equal empire o’er the world” (III.i. 53), this “she-tragedy” will then go on to reinforce patriarchal conventions to an insane degree (even more overtly than the other plays). While Calista’s independence and her desire for freedom in this patriarchal world is interesting, Rowe most likely would regard these traits as signs of her supposedly wicked nature. Unlike other people in our class, I would view Calista more leniently and I would even go as far as to say that she does nothing that I would regard as evil or wicked in the play (and that includes her disruption of Horatio and Altamont’s friendship which is merely a survival response as, I think, Emily mentioned in class). The play, however, evidently characterizes her as “prone to evil” (V.i. 158).

However, the play’s internal logic desires the viewer to see Calista as in need of punishement for her sexual transgression with Lothario and the corruption of her family’s honour (or, more specifically, her father Sciolto’s honour). Even Calista sees herself as in need of death in passages such as “my soul abhors the wretched dwelling/ And longs to find some better place of rest” (V.i. 92-93). Calista thus does not question the sexual double standard of her society and accepts its negative consequences upon herself. By characterizing her as a deviant women who must be punished for her defiancy of “feminine” gender roles due to her passionate nature, the discovery of her betrayal and the demonization of her character then strenghtens the homosocial reunion between Horation and Altamont and the patriarchal power that is embedded within such male relationships. Thus, Rowe’s play reinforces the conventions of a patriarchal society by tragically suppressing the independence of Calista at its end. 

On a side note, I didn’t think there could be a character as ignorant as Wycherley’s Sparkish, but Bonsot in Love at a Loss gives him a run for his money.

That’s all for now.

In order to depict the conflict between the public and private sphere in Congreve’s The Way of the World, I will simply post my thoughts on this theme in relation to the confrontation between Lady Wishfort and Waitwell (mainly, my section in my oral presentation). Well, here it is:

During Lady Wishfort’s subsequent encounter with Waitwell, the conflict between the two social spheres would again be stressed through staging. According to J.L Styan, the staging of this scene should expose “the situation and its setting, together with both of the principals,” (Styan 167) as “a sham” (Styan 167). For instance, after the drunken Sir Wilfull leaves through a side door, Lady Wishfort should shield it in an attempt to preserve the “decorum” of the public space that Sir Rowland enters (Congreve IV. 487). After this futile act, Lady Wishfort would quickly cross over to Waitwell and perform a “curtsy that shivers the image of grace” before delivering her apology (Styan 168). In order to complement her exaggerated pose as a “fair shrine of virtue” (Congreve IV. 543), Lady Wishfort should appear overdressed in a tightly-bound costume. By visually contrasting this image with her true character revealed in Act III, the audience will regard it as a forced performance. Although “altering lights could not be subtly handled” (Avery and Scouten xcv) on a Restoration stage with “wax candles” (Avery and Scouten xciv), due to modern lighting techniques, Wishfort’s room would be full of light and decorations, so it can both act as an extension of her public mask for Sir Rowland and contrast with her dimly light private space in Act III. Aside from the setting, the dancers, who entertain Waitwell, would dance a “formal minuet” (Styan 172) in order to emphasize Wishfort’s obsession with decorum and to contrast it, at the play’s end, with the “less formal, gigue (jig)” (Styan 172) often found in Restoration comedies.

By visually underlining Wishfort’s social performance, the audience can then detect the parallel between her mask and that of Waitwell who, as Sir Rowland, should be similarly “overdressed” and speaks in a more elegant manner (Styan 167). Reacting to Wishfort’s excess of decorum, Waitwell would convey an “excess of gallantry” (Congreve IV. 493), so that he can feign the roles of a suffering lover and an “errant knight” (Congreve IV. 651) and thus hide his true identity as an “arrant knave” (Congreve IV. 650). However, after Lady Wishfort momentarily leaves Waitwell, he asks Foible for a cordial of “spirits” (Congreve IV. 557).  By handing him a cordial, Waitwell would parallel Lady Wishfort’s private drinking and reinforce the theme of social performance. By then contrasting these staged characterizations to Mirabell and Millamant, it can be seen how they have achieved “private happiness within the confines of a […] demanding social context” during the proviso scene (Brown 133). This compromise between the two spheres is attained when Mirabell forbids social “masks” (Congreve IV. 252) due to their dishonesty and drinks like “orange-brandy” (Congreve IV. 278) because they cause an excessive display of the private self as with Sir Wilfull.

Regarding Catherine Trotter’s Love at a Loss, I will be posting comments on it later this week. Although, having read it, I believe that Trotter’s play appears to simultaneously criticize the rakish behaviour of Beaumine while also revealing how marriage does not always have a positive result that is in conformance with the desires of its participants (the marriage is also voted by the public sphere and circumvents the private desires of Lesbia). In contrast to other comedies which end with a conventional marriage union, this union appears tragic for Lesbia (“tragic” may be too strong a word for some, but, let’s just say, incredibly unfortunate) and stands in direct opposition to other Restoration comedies due to its implicit pessimism.

I will post more of my thoughts on Trotter’s play later.