The Rivals


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Act 1 Scene 2

Character: Thomas, Fag, Lydia, Lucy, Julia, Mrs Malaprop, Sir Anthony.

Two servants, the Coachman and Fag, meet unexpectedly on the street in the resort town of Bath, England. Thomas, the Coachman, has just arrived in Bath, with his master Sir Anthony Absolute and his Sir Anthony's ward, Madam Julia. Fag is the servant of Sir Absolute's son, Captain Jack Absolute. Neither expects to see the other party in Bath. Thomas explains that Sir Anthony has come to Bath to head of a case of gout. Fag confides in Thomas that Captain Absolute is in Bath pursuing the love of a rather wealthy young woman.

Fag reveals that Captain Absolute is courting Lydia Languish under the disguise of a poor enlisted soldier, Ensign Beverly. Thomas is confused about why Captain Absolute would not pretend to be a general rather than a lowly ensign.

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Act 1 Scene 2

Scene 2 takes place in a dressing room in the home of Lydia's aunt, Mrs. Malaprop. Lucy has just returned from making the rounds of lending libraries to get Lydia a fresh supply of romance novels. Lucy was unable to find many of the titles her mistress requested such as "The Fatal Connexion" or "The Mistakes of the Heart." Lucy has returned, however, with several volumes including "The Tears of Sensibility."

Lydia is surprised by the arrival of her cousin Julia who has come to Bath with her guardian, Sir Anthony Absolute. Lydia and Julia have been corresponding about their love interests and now Lydia tells Julia that she has lost her Beverly. Mrs. Malaprop intercepted a note being passed between the two lovers and has forbidden Lydia from seeing Ensign Beverly.....

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Act 2 Scene 1

Act 2 opens in Captain Absolute's lodgings. Captain Jack Absolute is engaged in a discourse with his servant Fag. Fag has just spoken to Jack's father, Sir Absolute, who was startled to learn his son was in Bath. He thought the young captain was deployed on army business. Fag made up a story to satisfy Sir Absolute's curiosity. He said the Captain was in Bath to recruit. He even embellished the story by saying that Captain Absolute had already recruited "five disbanded chairmen, seven minority waiters and thirteen billiard-markers."

Mr. Faulkland, a good friend of Jack's, enters the room. He does not know that Sir Absolute and Julia are in Bath and Jack decides to tease him some before revealing the news. The conversation first turns to Jack's relationship with Lydia in.....

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Act 2 Scene 2

Lucy stands alone on the North Parade, an open area in Bath often used for military ceremonies. While she waits for Sir Lucius O'Trigger, she contemplates weather Lydia's newest suitor, Captain Absolute, will also pay her bribes.

When Sir Lucius arrives, Lucy gives him a note supposedly written by Lydia. As he reads the note aloud, it is clear that Mrs. Malaprop has written it. She confuses "induction" with "seduction" and "superfluous" with "superficial" making the note quite humorous. Sir Lucius wonders at how one so young (he believes that 17-year-old Lydia has penned the note) can be such a "mistress of language." Lucy says it is a result of Lydia's extensive reading.

Lucius pays Lucy for delivering the note and gives her a kiss as he leaves. When Lucy says her lady.....

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Act 3 Scene 1

After Fag informs Jack that Lydia is the woman his father's proposes, Jack decides to go along with the arrangement and to convince his father his actions are prompted by duty and obedience. Sir Absolute is suspicious of his son's motives but nonetheless reveals the name of Jack's intended. Jack pretends not to know Lydia Languish or Mrs. Malaprop. Sir Absolute describes Lydia's beauty in detail, but Jack shows little interest. He claims his only desire is to please his father and says he would even marry the aunt, if that were his father's wish.

At one point in the scene, Sir Absolute says that when he was Jack's age, he ran away with Jack's mother and he would not have touched anything old or ugly to gain an.....

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Act 3 Scene 2

Faulkland waits for Julia in her dressing room. When Julia arrives, he apologizes that he may have appeared cold toward her when he saw her briefly with Sir Absolute. (This meeting took place outside the action of the play.) When Julia asks if he has not been feeling well, he confesses he has been distraught since learning how happy she had been while he was away. He begs her to say that she did not sing with mirth and that she thought of Faulkland as she danced. Julia says that her happiness shows her trust and security in Faulkland's love.

The longer the couple talks, the more doubts Faulkland raises. Every time Julia assures him of her love, he finds something to question. He asks Julia if she would love him if.....

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Act 3 Scene 3

Captain Jack Absolute is visiting Mrs. Malaprop in her lodgings. Jack flatters and impresses Mrs. Malaprop. She is so pleased with Jack (she calls him the "pineapple of politeness") that she confides in him about his rival, Ensign Beverly. She pulls a letter written by Beverly to Lydia from her pocket. Jack realizes that Lucy has betrayed him.

Mrs. Malaprop asks Jack to read the letter. As he begins to read, he expresses shock at Ensign Beverly's words, particularly his description of Mrs. Malaprop. In the letter, Beverly outlines a plot to fool Mrs. Malaprop into letting him see Lydia again. Beverly boasts that this scheme will even use Mrs. Malaprop the go-between in their meetings. Mrs. Malaprop finds the thought that she would ever be an accessory to a meeting between.....

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Act 3 Scene 4

Scene 4 takes place in Acres' lodgings. Acres is discussing his dapper new clothing with his servant, David. David says that he doubts anyone at home would recognize Acres in his finery. Acres sends David to the post office and, once alone, begins to practice his dancing.

Sir Lucius O'Trigger comes to visit Mr. Acres. Acres tell his friend he has come to Bath in pursuit of a woman, but he does not mention the woman's name. He has received notice that the woman has been promised to another man and now he must decide what to do.

Sir Lucius encourages Acres to fight his rival. At first Acres resists the idea. He has never even met the man called Beverly and Beverly has given him no provocation. Sir Lucius convinces Acres that.....

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Act 4 Scene 1

David is trying to talk his master, Mr. Acres, out of the duel. Acres says he must fight to preserve his honor. David notes that honor is no good in the grave. When Acres asks David if he thinks he is in great danger, David says the odds are ten to one against Acres. Acres calls David a coward and vows that his servant's whimpering will not make him afraid.

Acres has summoned his friend, Jack Absolute, to deliver the challenge to Ensign Beverly. Jack arrives and assures his friend he knows where to find the elusive Beverly. Acres then asks Jack to be his second for the duel, but Jack declines saying, "Not in this affairit would not be proper."

Before Jack departs with the message, Acres asks him to tell Beverly.....

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Act 4 Scene 2

Back in Mrs. Malaprop's lodgings, Mrs. Malaprop is trying to sell her niece on the attributes of Captain Absolute. Lydia continues to vow her love to Beverly only. When Sir Absolute and his son arrive, Lydia says she will neither speak to nor look at them. She throws herself in a chair with her face toward the wall.

When the men enter, Jack refuses to speak. He tells his uncle he is overcome with passion and he cannot find his voice. Mrs. Malaprop and Sir Absolute are left trying to figure out what to do when Lydia will not look at Jack, and Jack seems unable to speak to Lydia. They threaten and cajole the young people to little avail.

Through many aside comments, Jack and Lydia reveal their thoughts to the audience.....

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Act 4 Scene 3

Sir Lucius O'Trigger is walking on the North Parade looking for Captain Absolute. He is lamenting to himself that military officers often get in his way. He recalls that another woman he was interested in ran off with a major. He sees Captain Absolute approaching. Sir Lucius steps aside and listens to what Jack is saying to himself.

Jack has never been in worse humor in his life. He is ready to cut his own throat. Sir Lucius approaches, walks in step with Jack and engages him a quarrel. Jack is confused by Sir Lucius' desire to confront him. Sir Lucius speaks of an insult that happened earlier in the week. He would like to settle the matter through a duel.

Jack agrees and invites Sir Lucius to duel that night by the.....

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Act 5 Scene 1

Julia has just received an alarming message from Faulkland and she awaits his arrival in her dressing room. He enters and tells her a most unfortunate thing has happened. He leads her to believe he has been in a quarrel and killed a man. Faulkland says he must flee the country and has come to say good-bye.

Julia vows to go with him into exile. He presses her by asking if she wants more time to consider her decision. She says, "I ask not a moment." He tests her again by saying that they will lose his fortune. Julia says that alone can never make them unhappy.

Finally, he says that the unfortunate incident may lead him to become even more ill tempered. Julia says, "If your thoughts should assume so unhappy a.....

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Act 5 Scene 2

Jack Absolute waits on the South Parade for Faulkland, who is late. Jack puts his sword under his coat. He sees Sir Anthony approaching, covers his face with his coat, and attempts to hide from his father. He pretends to be a Mr. Saunderson but Sir Anthony is not fooled. Jack claims he was just playing a trick.

Sir Anthony wants to know where Jack is going. Jack lies that he is going to try to make up with Lydia. When Sir Anthony discovers that he is carrying a sword, Jack explains that he intends to appeal to Lydia's romantic ideals. If she refuses to forgive him, Jack will threaten to fall upon his sword and kill himself......

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Act 5 Scene 3

The action now moves to King's Mead Fields. Acres and Lucius are the first to arrive. As they discuss a good distance for the duel (Acres prefers a long shot), Sir Lucius asks what arrangements he should make for Acres if he dies. Acres has apparently not thought about this possibility. He does not like to think about either being pickled or lying in the Abbey.

Sir Lucius coaches Acres on how to stand to take his rival's shots. He recommends facing the opponent full on so the bullet has less chance of hitting a vital organ. All of this talk of final arrangements and vital organs makes Acres increasingly nervous. As Faulkland and Absolute approach, Acres feels his valor sneaking off.

Acres is surprised to see his friends Jack and Faulkland and.....

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