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The Rivals and the School for Scandal

by Richard Brinsley Sheridan

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Each book in the New Longman Literature series provides the complete, original text and a full range of support materials. The study material includes: the writer on writing - a section by or about the writer, exploring the process of writing; an introduction; guidance on keeping a log; a National Curriculum study programme; and a glossary.… (more)
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I fell in love with Restoration comedies through these two plays (though Oliver Goldsmith's "She Stoops to Conquer" was quickly added).

October 2015 While I have reread them more than once, it has been some time since I revisited "The School for Scandal". It was a joy to discover that this satire still makes me laugh.

A big part of the fun for me were the names -- Lady Sneerwell, Sir Benjamin Backbite, Mr. Joseph Surface, Mrs. Candour, Miss Gadabout, Sir Filagree Flirt ... I could go on but the point has been made. This satire about gossip and hypocrisy may feel dated in its setting to some readers (though it is like home to me after all the Georgette Heyer I have read), but the situations are still relevant & still funny. As David Garrick (in the original production at Drury Lane Theater in 1777) said in his prologue:

"Thus at our friends we laugh, who feel the dart;
To reach our feelings, we ourselves must smart."

So true! Whether it is the slapstick pie in the face or slip on the banana peel or the more sophisticated comedy of manners presented here, we laugh at things that would not be funny if they were happening to us. Being talked about behind our backs is one of those situations.

A few funny bits (my underlining):

Joseph Surface: The license of invention some people take is monstrous indeed.
Maria: 'Tis so; but, in my opinion, those who report such things are equally culpable.
Mrs. Candour: To be sure they are; tale-bearers are as bad as the tale-makers -- 'tis an old observation, and a very true one" but what's to be done, as I said before? how will you prevent people from talking? To-day, Mrs. Clackitt assured me, Mr. and Mrs. Honeymoon were at last become mere man and wife, like the rest of their acquaintance. She likewise hinted that a certain widow, in the next street, had got rid of her dropsy and recovered her shape in a most surprising manner. And at the same time Miss Tattle, who was by, affirmed, that Lord Buffalo had discovered his lady at a house of no extraordinary fame; ... But, Lord, do you think I would report these things! No, no! tale-bearers, as I said before, are just as bad as tale-makers."

And

Mrs. Candour: They'll not allow our friend Miss Vermillion to be handsome.
Lady Sneerwell: Oh, surely she is a pretty woman.
Crabtree: I am very glad you think so, ma'am.
Mrs. Candour: She has a charming fresh colour.
Lady Teazle: Yes, when it is fresh put on.
Mrs. Candour: Oh, fie! I'll swear her colour is natural: I have seen it come and go!
Lady Teazle: I dare swear you have ma'am: it goes off at night, and comes again in the morning.

Hahahaha!! But the main theme of the play revolves around two brothers: Joseph and Charles Surface. Everyone (except Lady Sneerwell) thinks Joseph is the virtuous good brother and Charles is the profligate ne'er-do-well. But, as Sheridan has foreshadowed for us, we must look below the surface to find the true character of these two men.
( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 27, 2023 |
I fell in love with Restoration comedies through these two plays (though Oliver Goldsmith's "She Stoops to Conquer" was quickly added).

October 2015 While I have reread them more than once, it has been some time since I revisited "The School for Scandal". It was a joy to discover that this satire still makes me laugh.

A big part of the fun for me were the names -- Lady Sneerwell, Sir Benjamin Backbite, Mr. Joseph Surface, Mrs. Candour, Miss Gadabout, Sir Filagree Flirt ... I could go on but the point has been made. This satire about gossip and hypocrisy may feel dated in its setting to some readers (though it is like home to me after all the Georgette Heyer I have read), but the situations are still relevant & still funny. As David Garrick (in the original production at Drury Lane Theater in 1777) said in his prologue:

"Thus at our friends we laugh, who feel the dart;
To reach our feelings, we ourselves must smart."

So true! Whether it is the slapstick pie in the face or slip on the banana peel or the more sophisticated comedy of manners presented here, we laugh at things that would not be funny if they were happening to us.

A few funny bits (my underlining):

Joseph Surface: The license of invention some people take is monstrous indeed.
Maria: 'Tis so; but, in my opinion, those who report such things are equally culpable.
Mrs. Candour: To be sure they are; tale-bearers are as bad as the tale-makers -- 'tis an old observation, and a very true one" but what's to be done, as I said before? how will you prevent people from talking? To-day, Mrs. Clackitt assured me, Mr. and Mrs. Honeymoon were at last become mere man and wife, like the rest of their acquaintance. She likewise hinted that a certain widow, in the next street, had got rid of her dropsy and recovered her shape in a most surprising manner. And at the same time Miss Tattle, who was by, affirmed, that Lord Buffalo had discovered his lady at a house of no extraordinary fame; ... But, Lord, do you think I would report these things! No, no! tale-bearers, as I said before, are just as bad as tale-makers."

And

Mrs. Candour: They'll not allow our friend Miss Vermillion to be handsome.
Lady Sneerwell: Oh, surely she is a pretty woman.
Crabtree: I am very glad you think so, ma'am.
Mrs. Candour: She has a charming fresh colour.
Lady Teazle: Yes, when it is fresh put on.
Mrs. Candour: Oh, fie! I'll swear her colour is natural: I have seen it come and go!
Lady Teazle: I dare swear you have ma'am: it goes off at night, and comes again in the morning.

Hahahaha!! ( )
  leslie.98 | Oct 17, 2015 |
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Each book in the New Longman Literature series provides the complete, original text and a full range of support materials. The study material includes: the writer on writing - a section by or about the writer, exploring the process of writing; an introduction; guidance on keeping a log; a National Curriculum study programme; and a glossary.

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