Restoration and re-opening of the theaters

The theaters were to stay closed until 1660, when Charles II was restored to the throne. That is what is meant by the Restoration. Restoration drama means that group of plays, both tragedies and comedies, written and performed, between 1660 and 1700. It is a very distinct, even extraordinary form of theater, like nothing before or since. It was written for a distinct audience: the returning Royalist exiles who made up the court of King Charles II. The dramatists and actors were not only out of touch with the country they returned to: they were hostile to its dominant, merchant middle class. They had lived a long time in France, as mostly Protestants in a Catholic country, without any serious power or purpose, as guests of Louis XIV. They had been exposed to French customs, French theatre and actresses. But they had been totally detached from France‟s serious

neoclassical cultural agenda. So they had experienced only the superficial aspects of French culture, including drama, without any engagement with that culture‟s serious agenda or purpose. That is probably why, when they restored drama to the English scene, they sought to „spice up‟ both the tragedies and the comedies they had witnessed. The comic writers plagiarized the French tragedies and comedies - especially Moliére, but then added and embroidered them to suit the coarser English taste.

The nature of Restoration drama
It is hard to say which is the more unique, the preposterous plays that were called 'Heroic Tragedy' that glamorized the frivolous courtier' idea of themselves, or, in total contrast, the incredibly bawdy sex comedies that came out of the same period. Fielding's Tom Thumb the Great is a very clever and funny send-up of the tragedies. What his satire exposes is the utter remoteness of

Restoration Tragedy from the experience and language of life. In trying to amaze and astonish audiences with high heroic characters and actions and exotic scenes and locales, Restoration tragedy presented onstage a world that had never existed and could never exist. It is an escapist fantasy world, lacking the serious moral content of Corneille, and any of the depth of Racine. Test this out by reading John Dryden's THE CONQUEST OF GRANADA, (a play, by the way, that does require from its audience, along with the need for a massive suspension of disbelief, some intelligence and taste, however misapplied.) In fact, there was a poet in England who had both a true tragic vision and the language for tragedy, JOHN MILTON, (See excerpt). But he was in internal exile: blind, disgraced, even facing execution as a traitor to the King. His one drama, Samson Agonistes, is filled with

the language of tragedy: but the action of the play is too austere and stiff, too weighed down with its conscious imitation of Greek tragedy - notably OEDIPUS AT COLONUS, to be theatrically compelling. RESTORATION COMEDY, however, is a definite success, though in a way that is as unique and astonishing as the impossible heroic tragedies. It is more sex-obsessed than any comedy ever written at any time in history - even the present time. Aristophanes can be very bawdy, but he is also interested in politics, philosophy, religion, war and peace, poetry, the future of his city and so on. Restoration Comedy, for the most part, has only one subject: the predatory 'rake' in pursuit of as many women as he can seduce. And he is well matched by the female rake, generally married, whose purpose is to bed as many young men as possible without losing her reputation - which she calls her 'honor'. What distinguishes this comedy from

Why is it so bawdy? 4. This is one of the reasons why businessmen. City men like Sir Jasper Fidget in The Country Wife are made fools of by the . ruthless aggressiveness.Hollywood sex-movies is its totally cynical. their fashionable lady friends and the large band of courtesans. They relished the fact the merchant society of the City resented them . wearing masks. executed their King and sent them into exile in France. who used the theaters as convenient places for their business. The mostly aristocratic audience that attended the theaters were men of leisure. most of whom disdained any kind of career.and so they set out defiantly to outrage the Puritans as much as possible. by flaunting and maybe exaggerating their immorality. One explanation for the extraordinary bawdiness of this drama is that it is a deliberate defiance by the royalists against the Puritans who had closed down the theater.

In Restoration Drama the merchant or businessman is an enemy who must be humiliated at every opportunity.plots of these plays and why the references to business and the City in The Man of Mode are so contemptuous. in THE BEGGAR‟S OPERA. they will remake the theatre. as a subversive beggar society. Restoration Comedy is a warfare against the City and its values. Later. also. Lillo. It is the one attack the courtiers can make. It will have a last fling. in the moral „Sentimental Comedies‟ and „Instructive‟ tragedies of Addison Steele. Restoration Comedy in a sense celebrates the audacious qualities of a class that is going into political extinction. for Parliament now holds the purse-strings of the Court and the merchants are remaking England in non-aristocratic terms. the rakish group professing its audacious solidarity against the .

the middle class was to win the battle and the theatre in England went into eclipse. religion was too dangerous a subject. they discovered that the powers of the Court and the King had been greatly diminished (in contrast to Louis IV's absolute power).( From 1770 .and when they returned to England. now was .for they were mostly Protestants in a Catholic country . after Sheridan. the British aristocrats had nothing to do but live for pleasure. Parliament.1890) The political powerlessness of the Restoration Court As exiles. for over a century. In the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. has no notable theatre at all. That is. the great age of Romanticism and of the English novel .respectable world of the growing middleclass. .one of the great periods of English Literature. funded by the City and by the merchant class throughout England. Politics was forbidden them. in Louis XIV's France.

Hobbes's contended that both animals and humans act entirely from responses to external stimuli: to the effect upon their .the supreme power. SEX and its pursuit in terms of the codes of social elegance. Restoration comedies are ruthless but they are also refined: a very disturbing combination. as was economics and religion. But he knew his limits. The ruthlessness of this comedy: Thomas Hobbes its philosopher The philosophy of the Restoration Court and its dramatists was summed up by the cynical political-social Philosophy of ---THOMAS HOBBES (Major work: LEVIATHENˆ) He was the court philosopher in residence in the court of Charles II and teacher of the king and was the first 'materialist' philosopher of Britain. So 'politics' was mainly removed from the courtiers' range of vision. This didn't leave much apart from heroic fantasy in the tragedies and. in the comedies. though Charles tried to resist this.

or spirit but not of the body (which could be a delusion): whereas for Hobbes consciousness was only a matter of bodily responses and the idea of a soul was a delusion. The illusion that we possessed independent souls made us believe in our own rights and freedoms and caused us to disrupt the commonwealth with our chimerical . He denied that human were divided between a soul and a body as Descartes had insisted: indeed Hobbes really reversed Descartes. For Hobbes. 2. because Descartes was at least sure of the operations of the soul.animal instincts from the chance motions of an outside 'matter'. this materialism had important political consequences. It was hardly a secret that he was an atheist in the tolerant court of Charles. Belief in the independent existence of the soul (a world of spirits) encouraged priestcraft and other conceptions that lessened the dependence of subjects on the sovereign power of the country.

It was. i. If we merely were responding to external stimuli. even though they could not achieve this in England. free will was an illusion . If this was so. Hobbes. of appetite. . all we decently could demand from a political order was to have our lives regulated so as to preserve our bodily safety. the fallacious belief in our spiritual existences that gave rise to the murderous Civil War fought over concepts of religion and of liberty.e. For Hobbes. This was an attractive theory for Charles II and his more cynical courtiers. (He did allow that we had the right to resist any danger to our bodily selves. who believed in the absolute power of the monarch. to their thinking. any law that threatened our selfpreservation).demands. there was no such thing as good and evil: good was the satisfaction and evil the frustration. believed humans were ruled by two supreme drives: the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

brutish and short. Hobbes was taken up by Charles's courtiers and the Restoration comedy that reflected their view of life. If left alone. where our lives would be "solitary. poor. which would prevent society falling into total chaos.8. our natural instincts still would drive us to the maximum satisfaction of appetites. in order to survive. This was the natural state of man. allowed a sovereign power over themselves: the government and its laws and regulations. nasty. is. is the main aim of life. Life governed entirely by satisfying natural appetites could lead to a warfare between all." Men and women. But this authority has no moral or spiritual sanction: merely that of practical regulation. Such Restoration „rake heroes‟ like Horner or Dorimant have a particularly cynical and 'cold-hearted' idea of the good life: in which . and power over others. not surprisingly. one in which the pursuit of sexual appetite.

Man by nature was a predatory animal whose natural pursuit was the fulfillment of his appetites. Morality is just a hypocritical cloak. were . requiring the subjugation and oppression of others. In the law of the jungle that is our natural state. notice. are acting perfectly naturally as Hobbesian men or women. like the 'Honor' that Mrs. All this was cheerfully accepted by the audience who. Fidget and the ladies keep harping on. just by attending a play. or Bellinda or Mrs. power.new conquests are always desirable while old affairs grow wearisome because conquest no longer is necessary. there is only force. Dorimant and Horner. Fidget. Cautiously. therefore. not morally. It was a natural human tendency to seek the maximum gratification of one's appetites and it was only when one came up against a force stronger than oneself that one drew back and acted cautiously.

scene. tying up soiled linen – that is cleaning up the bed . In ACT IV. These established the plot. Etherege can present onstage Dorimant. preceding The Man of Mode: the other plays we shall read are all offshoots of his early plays. The opening of The Man of Mode shows us . The fact that this model was copied again and again means that it was successful with its public. Sc. The Man of Mode combines the themes and plot devices of Etherege's two earlier plays. The Man of Mode Etherege practically established the Comedy of Manners in his first two plays.making a statement against the Puritan ethos. action and dialogue of Restoration Comedy. Ii. “in his gown”(bed attire) talking to Bellinda while in the background is his manservant “Handy”. characters.a wonderfully „cheeky‟ challenge to any (unlikely) Puritans in the audience. Of THE MAN OF MODE.

The scene calls to mind Aeschylus's The Seven Against Thebes. and not giving away his secret to his closest friends: for in this sexual warfare. little by little taking on the attire of the dangerous rake. This takes up the entire First Act. like a sexual predator. along with his alert intelligence are his armor against the town. along with his ready 'wit'..Dorimant dressing while receiving visitors and the “news of the world”: surveying the „field‟ of his coming campaign. perfume. with its opening action of Eteocles gradually arming himself for battle. until his fatal exit). shows HORNER cynically outlining his campaign to his doctor. . even though he is the friend of HARCOURT who is engaged to her. Similarly. Horner would try to seduce ALITHEA if he could. at first undressed. etc. This whole opening scene should show Dorimant. the opening of THE COUNTRY WIFE. for his campaign against the town and his fashionable clothes. friends can‟t be trusted. He is arming.

and kept as her lover. were just as predatory. is every bit as bawdy as the male dramatists. though less fortunately placed.of Cleveland. [Wycherley himself had been literally picked up in the street. by the Duchess . Dialogue.(Restoration women. There is a similar situation in Henry Fielding's Tom Jones where Tom is 'kept' by a wealthy aristocratic lady . Aphra Behn. Action. Props in the play The Scene is even more narrow than that of French comedy: the rakes operate within about one square mile of London: of The Mall. Character. ) Scene. as an impoverished but good-looking young man. (she was in a coach) . as the men: everyone was involved in the sex-pursuit. the first professional woman playwright in the English language. Hyde Park and the coffee houses and fashionable squares around Whitehall – much .

tinier than contemporary London. Characters consist of Fashionable Society‟ and its servants. There is a funny little scene (p. beyond which is a vague wilderness hinterland known as America and then the Pacific : In the much tinier Britain. (ideal of elegance) Usually younger sons without inheritance . where the highly fashionable Sir Fopling Flutter and his companions are interrupted: “Enter four illfashioned fellows singing.”. It is very similar to the famous Steinberg(?) NEW YORKER cartoon of the New Yorker‟s idea of America which consists of Manhatten. The characters include: (a) fashionable rakes. is considered a dreadful wilderness. „Hampshire” for example. up to 42nd. iii.80) Act III. It is the only glimpse we get of a different world beyond polite society: for the Orangewomen and the Bootmaker are the acceptable servants.Street.

are on display „for sale. has about three simultaneous „entanglements‟. Dorimant.‟ Until they are accepted by an heiress. in the play. Dorimant has many of the qualities of an amoral. He discards Loveit by . Medley his ally: Young Bellair his potential victim. Dorimant is impeccably dressed. „cool‟ James Bond but with genuine wit and intelligence. These young men. attracts the best looking women. acts entirely from the instinct of self-advantage and self-image – much like the James Bond character. for it is hinted he is not enough of a „wit‟ to survive Dorimant. though within a more circumscribed – and more real – social world. Among these Dorimant is the leader. they live for maximum sexual satisfaction. The world of the rakes is much like the world of Laclos‟ Dangerous Liaisons. Thus the males cannot trust each other: Dorimant will „poach‟ a friend‟s wife.looking for pleasure but also an heiress. Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

These establish the „norm‟ by violating it so that we better discern true elegance and wit. I a good estate. Bellinda.employing Bellinda with whom he is conducting an affair while courting Harriet. Sir Fopling Flutter was the most sought after role by actors for his almost sublime comic invulnerability (c) Female rakes: Loveit. These women accept the world of the rakes. There is no claim that this is „love‟: and even his unexpected feelings for Harriet still keep in sight that she is wealthy. He tells Young Bellair. operate it. who is marrying for love: The wise will find a difference in our fate: You wed a woman. the discarded mistress. who overdo it (as the „ill-fashioned underdo it). the new one. (b) Fops (parodies of elegant ideal. and are more . are treacherous to each other while professing friendship.

The reputation of „rake‟ can enhance a man‟s status but if it was TOO OPEN. who watchfully appreciate the rake‟s world. OUTSIDE THE RAKE -FOP WORLD is the world of ordinary society: the older generation that the younger one must deceive and outwit . The clever heiress. Thus women were known to be rakes but they could not „flaunt‟ the fact. She detects that Dorimant is the smartest of the rakes and uses her intelligence to establish her own terms for a relationship.vulnerable than the males. She does not expect Dorimant to totally reform (“I would not have you turn fanatic”) but he must respect her rights and needs. It is essential the clever female keeps her cool while sizing up the „field‟ „Wit‟ is a survival requirement in this world. Emilia. it could destroy a woman‟s. Harriet. (d) The bright respectable women. Bellinda is careful to be discreet.

Women vs. The Man of Mode shows fashionable society as a Hobbesian warfare of all (like Dangerous Liaisons) against all.(Young Bellair vs. has been discarded. BUSINESS MEN whom the rakes long to „cuckold‟ or humiliate. Cf. Men vs. MERCHANTS. like Donna Elvira in DON GIOVANNI. BEYOND THAT IS THE HOSTILE WORLD OF THE CITY. Samuel Pepys Diaries.Women. often using the theatre for „vizarded‟ assignations. has lost the war.Women. made up of a series of almost military strategies performed by: Men vs. Old Bellair) Outmoded fashion (Lady Woodvil) or sympathetic worldly elders LADY TOWNLEY. (tho‟ the philandering Pepys loved his wife!) Loveit. ACTION-PLOT In an age of arranged and often loveless marriages (for men and women) both women and men were sexual adventurers. . Men.

Deception. Even if it is one of innocent love Bellair and Emilia will be vulnerable to rakes like Dorimant. (Tom Stoppard‟s THE REAL THING is in this tradition. Marriage (Dorimant-Harriet) is a form of armistice. betrayal are all accepted moves in the predatory game. Children. (b) To conquer Bellinda (c) To help Young Belllair to marry so Dorimant might get access to Emilia (in „reserve) (d) Major campaign: to win Harriet and her Fortune .) The plot of the play is set out as a series of strategic actions By Dorimant (a) To find a way of discarding his mistress Loveit. Treachery.Parents vs.

there are a lot of disrespectful (anti-Puritan) religious references in the play The only person not at war. is the ultimately „innocent‟ Sir Fopling Flutter. while remaining tolerant and liberal (“I would not have you turn fanatic” . in his own impregnable world of self-approval.(e) To maintain his status as dominant rake (his rage at Loveit‟s humiliation of him Young Bellair: (a) To deceive his father and gain Emilia Bellinda (b) To serve DORIMANT and deceive Loveit Loveit (a) To regain Dorimant against all comers (b) To publicly humiliate him in revenge Harriet (a) To make sure she marries the man she chooses: he must achieve the standard of „wit‟ (b) To try to get Dorimant to respect her conditions for marriage. DIALOGUE: .

Within these limitations. . language is expected to maintain a rigorous standard of witty repartee.Its world of reference is incredibly narrow: just idle fashionable London society and its world of theater. clothes. (his is still an „aristocratic‟ attitude that shocks the bourgeoisie!) Dorimant‟s cruel treatment of Loveit disturbs Bellinda (her „friend‟) but not enough to turn her against him. fortune-hunting. It must recognize and maintain its own level of acceptable character and behavior. sexual predation. radical. (Old. of taste and observation. however. which is extremely permissive so long as these standards are kept up. exiled John Milton is still alive!) PROPS Of immense importance in this drama: dress. cards. „Taste‟ is a serious substitute for morality or religion. Serious religion or state affairs are excluded from this discourse. blind.

curtsy or bow. Deportment: „Dancing masters” often from France. 55-57 Bellair and Harriet) This is why these comedies succeed in the theater. pp. These women can be fashionable adulteresses or prostitutes. snuff-box or fan. Fans (Loveit „unpardonably‟ “tears” her fan) Masks at the theater for especially women to employ on their „affairs‟. of actresses on the English stage.we saw. It is a „branch‟ of French neoclassical „decorum‟ applied to life. make an exit. Introduction of the Actress to English theatre The idea of life as a war between the sexes was amplified by the introduction. for the first time. Social life was a form of play-acting. gave lessons in proper deportment: how to sit. (Men . is a form of armor which Sir Fopling hilariously misapplies. use a cane. etc. (Cf. These „dancing masters‟ also trained the actors who therefore were expected to be as elegant as anyone in the audience.

to the ranks of the aristocracy. Pernille in Tartuffe was played by a man. the best way to the King's bed was via the theater. with their tolerant husbands.) Actresses were an absolute requirement in an entertainment for King Charles II and his circle. His multitudinous mistresses founded many of our current aristocratic families: a great number of ladies were raised. like Nell Gwynne. (The theme of a recent movie called Restoration).as in France where Mme. The court in exile had seen actresses on the stage in France and were determined to introduce actresses to the English stage. Restoration comedy is not a fantasy world. who then became an actress and the king's favorite. The king himself was a notorious 'rake' and a lover of the theater. or by starting out as an actress.still played some women's parts . either by selling oranges in the theater. it . And often.

is a direct reflection of what was going on in this little circle of male and female rakes. is very loosely based on The Misanthrope. was pillaged for plots. Molière. But there is a world of difference between . No other theater has so dramatized itself. especially. Charles II and his courtiers had been exposed to French drama. Wycherley's The Plain Dealer for example. Contrast between French and Restoration Drama In France. with the actors on the stage talking to the members of the audience (in 'asides' that are more intimate than their Elizabethan counterparts). It is theater about the theater world. (and to the idea of actresses) and many of the Restoration tragedies and comedies are based on French models. Frequently the comedies contain only slightly hidden references to what is going on in the audience's lives.

and raises serious cultural issues about the collision between religious and social demands upon the citizen of a rational society. wits. The Man of Mode. The Way of the World is. but the emphasis now is more on manners and witty dialogue and somewhat less on the ruthless pursuit of sex. We can see this is we compare Tartuffe with The Man of Mode and The Country Wife. comic duennas. as much as The Country Wife is an outrageous celebration of sexual anarchy. Both are accomplished comedies: but Tartuffe is daring. the courtiers surrounding the king and the more raffish . a 'cleaned up' version of Restoration Comedy. that is. clever servants and buffoons. in a sense. fops. Theatre and Audience on the British Stage Because the Restoration comedies were written for a very narrow class of people by members of that class.French drama and the drama of Restoration England. It is still a world of male and female rakes.

through 'asides'. It probably is the most intimate theater (in every sense) ever. through continual references in the plays to the theatre and to making assignations in the theater (then going on during the performance) to "masks" and vizards (women who wore masks to conceal identity). Actresses were known mistresses of audience . The continual interplay between the stage and the audience. early in the first scenes and these references to the theatre run all through the play. describing the women in the audience.members of the public who wanted to be part of this circle. and referring to events everyone in the audience knew about. Both THE MAN OF MODE and THE COUNTRY WIFE bring the theatre into the dialogue. these comedies set up a very close intimacy between stage and audience in every sense of intimacy. The plays began with a Prologue spoken to the audience by the actor or actress playing a prominent part.

Fainall. Dorimant probably was modeled on John Wilmot. the sex chase. or Mrs. Earl of Rochester. celebrated a form of sexual freedom (or at least in the value of the sexgame. in which the cynical audiences believed in and upheld. amounting almost to a morality. though it celebrates the triumph of the 'rake-hero' nevertheless subscribes to a code of conduct. a famous rake. There was a double standard in that the male 'rake' was permitted far more freedom than the female 'rake' and could survive being abandoned much better. with its rules and infringements. The character of Mrs. This code. Restoration Comedy. a code of social intelligence and taste. The male rake could boast about his conquests: the female rake had to pretend to be virtuous.members. the discarded lover of Mirabell. by both sexes) and above that. Loveit in THE MAN OF MODER. in The Way of the World are good examples of the hazards that .

Mrs. and. Fainall and their kind are potentially tragic characters whose futures. In pursuit of pleasure the men and women of the plays seem to have no connection with the great work of the ROYAL SOCIETY. Loveit and Mrs. and certainly they are unaware of the greatest poet of the age. her future was far more perilous. RESTORATION COMEDY is an amazingly 'exclusive' stylistic genre.the sexually free woman ran. if he got tired of her. unlike the men‟s are likely to be very problematic. and she was no longer young. with ISAAC NEWTON. the theatre and its audience are cut off from serious economic or political life. or GABRIEL HARVEY. While they incessantly quote such 'polite' minor poets and Edmund Waller and Sir John Suckling. She had to guard her reputation more than the hero did. Despising the CITY and PARLIAMENT. (Though SAMUEL PEPYS could straddle both worlds). there's no trace of .

It ceased being performed in . Arguably the finest Restoration comedy. In drama. Restoration Comedy was seen to belong to an impossible idea of society. their contemporary (and regicidal enemy). The Way of the World was a flop before an audience weary of the genre. more moral. and begins to realize that life has to be more than this endless sexual warfare within society. it becomes gradually more human. so it changes.John Milton. That is what we notice as we move from Etherege. The idea of life summed up in the philosophy of Hobbes later gave way to the more congenial political and psychological philosophy of Locke. this meant abandoning the cynical comedy of the Restoration for the sentimental comedy (and tragedy) of the eighteenth century. Gradually. through Wycherly. As Restoration comedy evolves. to Congreve and Farquhar.

and of „manners‟ or „style‟ that it began its present revival. though more modern.the early 18th. It was only in the 1920's (itself an age of cynicism . 5 Etherege and Wycherley complacently accept the rules of a game that so obviously gives their heroes. It fitted the period that succeeded the political/philosophic comedies of GEORGE BERNARD SHAW with the stylish and risqué comedies of Noel Coward.AFTER WORLD WAR ONE . is due to be cuckolded by Dorimant after he is married to EMILIA. is the reduction of sexuality to a kind of cynical hunt where love itself is an act of foolishness. (Shades of Linda Tripp!!) In Etherege's world. under the pretence of helping her. century. The young lover. Loveit. Almost as shocking. BELLINDA betrays her best friend. and was considered hopelessly immoral in the 19th century. in THE MAN OF MODE it is hinted. DORIMANT and HORNER such unfair advantages. it is one's . Bellair.

resourceful.good impulses that put one in danger. . Intelligence ('wit') is more esteemed than virtue. It is like a survival of the fittest. aware. in THE COUNTRY WIFE. as they used to be called. prudence (not prudishness) nd so on.‟:intelligent. This is true of HARCOURT and ALITHEA. because he has shown the best survival mechanisms in a dangerous environment. fashion. able to get what they want. ultimately. All Restoration comedies celebrate watchful intelligence. and he to her for the same reasons. One can only 'pass' in good society by finely discriminating between true and false wit. are an evolution from Beatrice and Benedick. The Gay Couple. where one is looking for the 'mate' who will best further one's survival as man or woman. HARRIET is attracted to DORIMANT in THE MAN OF MODE. or Mirabel and Millament in The Way of the World. 'raillery'.

Dorimant was believed to have been modeled on actual notorious. or even Etherege himself whose two lifelong passions were women. . the extended discussions on Honor. scandalous but much admired rakes. but so did the audience. in THE COUNRY WIFE. [DORIMANT'S' rage when LOVEIT seems to make him lose face: and HARRIET'S careful. „Reputation' or 'saving face' is one of the survival mechanisms: hence.DORIMANT admires and maybe even loves HARRIET (“in a way”)but he also is aware of the fortune she has inherited and which is essential for his marriage to her. and gambling.] 6. precaution-taking attraction to and acceptance of DORIMANT on her terms. The strangest thing about Wycherley‟s and Etherege's plays is that we know that not only Etherege approved of Dorimant. such as the Earl of Rochester. while respecting his.

too. for she herself has accepted the rules by which Dorimant operates. Harriet and Dorimant's male companions.There is no alternative moral code of conduct in Etherege's world. Doriment and Medley might be easygoing aristocrats but they are not 'snobs' in the middle-class sense. Furthermore: even the nonaristocratic. Dorimant may treat Loveit shamefully. servant-class characters. do Bellinda. Their way of bantering with and trading insults with the orangewoman and with the other servants . but Loveit has no moral case against him. (except for PEERT) as the early scenes with Handy and the Orangewoman (perhaps once a prostitute) reveal. share Dorimant's view of the world. So. That opening scene with the Orangewoman. by the way. is excellent character-comedy and reveals a whole 'easiness' between Dorimant and the working class that is itself subversively attractive.

What is so actable about the plays is that they really shows society in a state of perpetual war: war between men and women. It does not explain the peculiar nature of the sexual pursuit. men and men and women and women. Obeying the logic of their code of conduct. later. and cannot appeal to any sympathies or values that can restrain the completely unscrupulous man or woman. But the world Etherege and Wycherley show us is far from being a sexual paradise. these characters can never trust each other. must always be on the alert against betrayal. nor the extraordinary 'comedy . But this is not enough to explain the peculiar nature of Restoration life and drama.shows they are 'above' class and already establishes that alliance between low life and high life that we will see. in John Gay's The Beggar's Opera. though Etherege himself seemed to think so. 9. 7.

marriages were arranged for the perpetuation of estates and not for 'love. manners. The male rake often was a young man without an estate (a younger son) or one who had lost his estate (as many families did in the Civil War) and sought his fortune not in 'trade' which was considered ungentlemanly. In the moneyed and landed classes. elegance: and its extremely cynical view of the one value it honored: the sexual relationship. Dorimant's final success. Appetites alone could not have created the extraordinary peacock displays of Restoration men and women and their society. Even respectable society accepted a highly cynical . We need to look at the economic and cultural nature of Restoration society to understand its drama: its emphasis upon social decorum.or at least unromantic view of the sexual and marriage relationship. it will seem.of manners' that ensued. . is that he will gain both Harriet and her estate.

the male rake's chiefest interest was the pursuit of women. his greatest fear -even greater than the ever-present fear of syphilis. agreeable lovers meant lovers who represented the smartest that London society could offer: 'wits. For the women. therefore. of fooling them: a classical theme of comedy. took on more agreeable lovers. of merchants and bankers and Puritans (and regicides) was . having bastards inherit one's estate: hence the strong fear of and emphasis upon 'cuckolding' plots where wives. This often meant marrying against the wishes of the girl's parents.but by making a 'good marriage'.' men of fashion. was for himself to be cuckolded. and so on. This was the great contradiction in the 'rake' code of conduct. It forced upon him an extreme degree of watchfulness as to his own honor. For the male. married or otherwise. The CITY. married to husbands they did not love. the greatest threat was being 'cuckolded': that is. While.

who. The implication of the end of the play is that she WILL join the corrupt circle. is about Educating Marjorie. It is taken for granted that this is a good thing. is brought out of the ignorance of country life and into the fashionable corruption of London life. Harriet declares she who does not expect Dorimant to become 'fanatic' by totally giving up other women after their engagement. But she at least expects him to show his love for her by enduring the countryside for a term. THE COUNTRY WIFE. (142) Dorimant . despite her reconciliation to being a country wife (p. 77) 9. The countryside was considered an exile from everything that fashionable society could offer. This is a joke against the Puritan lifestyle and a declaration of tolerance in both sexual and religious matters.the despised ENEMY. quite apart from it being poetic justice for PINCHWIFE. as its title tells us. {At the end of the THE MAN OF MODE.

agrees to this while also making sure he keeps Bellinda as his mistress. .

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