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Confrontation in Restoration Comedies : Duels and Gender Str
Transcript of Confrontation in Restoration Comedies : Duels and Gender Str
Duels and Gender Struggle
"Restoration comedy offers a ruthlessly cynical view of social and sexual rules as forms of strategy and one-upmanship"
From Courtesy to Civility
First women on stage
Provocative use of the actress and the provocative view of her
Satiric and unromantic presentation encouraged by the new female performers also had positive results.
Plays meant to resolve serious cultural tension such as the definition of gender roles, the regulation of sexual behavior and the compatibility of marriage partners
Comedies of manners : represented the most gender struggle, revealed a new model of marriage, proved to be less tolerant of fallen women, women fall into three general categories : sexually active hypocrites, naïve or ignorant young women and charming virgins.
The heroines come to behave just like the rakes of the plays which is perceived as a threat to the traditional realms of masculine social and discursive power
Women are badly portrayed in Restoration Comedies
True interest of women for men : marriage, money and power
Farces and intrigue or libertine comedies seem less concerned with gender stability, sexual control and moral standards
Intrigue comedies , satire
Aphra Behn : one of the first professional female literary writers
(1677) : sexual frolic and gender playfulness
Gender struggle in Restoration comedies
1660 : The Restoration
Monarchy is restored
Charles II and his court return from exile in France
Church of England re-established as the state religion
Outburst of anti-puritanism
Re-opening of theatres
Charles II and his Court
A urbane and cultivated man
Taste for music and wit
Love of pleasure
Inspired personal affection and public distrust in equal measure
His court was openly libertine
Restauration in Context
The Restoration Stage
Influences of Restoration Comedies
French drama influence : Moliere
Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan (1651)
Cavalier society mode of life : gallantry, wit and artificiality
Audience and Theaters
Only two licensed theaters in London : Drury Lane Theatre and Dorset Gardens Theatre
Rich and young upper class audience. London-based, cynical and fashionable
First celebrity actors such as Thomas Betterton
First professional actresses on stage such as Nell Gwynn
Characteristics of Restoration Comedies
Different genres : Wit Comedy, Spanish Romance, French Farce, Sex Comedy, etc.
Archetypes : The fop, the rake, the country bumpkin, the rich woman, the virtuous young heroin, witty servants, blocking parents, cast mistresses, unhappy wives, whores, etc.
Themes : Courtship, seduction, cuckolding, gulling, etc.
Major Works and Playwrights
The Country Wife
The Man of Mode
The Lucky Chance
Sir John Vanbrugh,
The Provoked Wife
The Way of the World
George Farquhar, T
he Beaux' Stratagem
"A signifier of the crontadiction inherent in Restoration society." Kathleen Leicht
Duelling: an increasingly controversial issue in Restoration society
A gentleman practice or a brutal and archaic practice ?
Shift in society from courtesy to civility
Duelling: a mean of social distinction for the old artistocracy
Comic representations of duelling reflected the audience anxiety concerning violence
Duel as a mean to reconsider the notion of honor
Issue of the changing structures of authority during Restoration
Duelling: a fashionable practice
Combats in comedies ar mainly verbal
Violence is worse in the domestic sphere
Decline of Restoration Comedies
Death of Charles II in 1685
Backlash: Restoration plays attacked by Reverend Jeremy Collier's
A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage
Changes in theatre audiences and tastes
Influence of Restoration Comedies on Sheridan and Goldsmith' plays
Oxford English Drama : Four Restoration Libertine Plays
, Introduction by Deborah Payne Fish, Oxford University Press, 2005
The Oxford Anthology of English Literature : The Restoration and the 18th Century
, Oxford University Press, 1973
The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature
, Cambridge University Press, 1970
, Introduction by Brice Harris, Modern Library, 1953
, Introduction by Robert G. Lawrence, JM Dent & Sons, 1976
"Dialogue and Duelling in Restoration Comedy", by Kathleen Leicht, University of North Carolina Press, 2007
English Literature : A Student Guide
, Pearson Education Limited, 3rd ed: 2000
Deborah Payne Fisk
, The Cambridge Companion to English Restoration Theatre
, Cambridge University Press, 2000
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