The Rivals - English Language & Literature.

I hate this play and I struggle with the understanding, therefore I thought I would make a summary of each Act and Scene.

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  • Created by: Sarah
  • Created on: 21-05-11 14:54

Act 1 Scene 1 Summary

Sheridan conveys vital information about the characters and plot in this scene.

This scene is set in Bath, it introduces the situations of the main characters through a conversation between Fag (Captain Jack's servant) and Coachman (Sir Anthony's servant).

Fag tells Coachman that Jack is pretending to be Ensign Beverley, because he is in love with Lydia Languish, a wealthy girl, who would rather an ensign that to know he is in the son and heir of Sir Anthony's.

Fag also tells Coachman that there is a troublesome aunt who does not know Jack Absolute.

Then told that Faukland's going to marry Julia Melville and that the Captain is giving money to Lucy, Lydia's maid.


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Act 1 Scene 2 Summary

- Begins with Lucy delivering novels which she has got for her mistress, Lydia Languish from the circulating libraries.

- Julia Melville arrives, to be told that Lydia's connection with Beverly has been discovered, her aunt Mrs Malaprop  having intercepted a note. Lydia tells Julia that Mrs M is corresponding under the name of Delia with Sir Lucius O'Trigger, an Irish baronet who she has fallen in love with. Lydia is also disturbed by the arrival of Bob Acres.

- Lydia has to have her consent if she marries before she is of age, otherwise she will lose most of her fortune. She however has decided she wants to marry without her aunt's consent, an idea that Julia regards as caprice.

- Julia has her own problems, she was engaged to marry Faukland but he does not think he is sufficiently loved by her. Lydia teases her about this.

- Julia leaves when she hears Sir Anthony has arrived and prepares the audience for Mrs M's misapplication of words.Lydia tells Lucy to hide the novels and replace them with moral works. Mrs M tries to make Lydia promise to give up Beverly and sends her to her room.

- Then Sir Anthony & Mrs M discuss Lydia's future. Lydia is so against Bob Acres but Sir Antony believes Jack is perfect match.

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Act 2 Scene 1

- This scene is set in Jack's lodgings, where Fag tells Jack that his father, Sir Anthony knows his son is Bath.

- Faukland enters and Absolute explains to him his plans for gradually letting Lydia know who he really is because while he is convinced that she would elope with him as Ensign rather than knowing his real identity.Faukland is low in spirits; he is worried about Julia. Absolute tells him that Julia has just arrived in Bath nd is in perfect health. At this point, Fag announces that Bob Acres is downstairs. Absolute explains that Acres is a neighbour of Sir A and also a rival of himself for Lydia, however Acres does not know that Beverly is Jack and therefore has complained about Beverly to Jack.

- Acres enters and is introduced to Faukland and he tells him that Julia is well and happy. Upsets him as he thought she would not be happy in his absence. He becomes annoyed that Julia has been singing a certain type of songs and learns that she has been dancing country dances and leaves in a rage. Acres says he is adopting new ways of dressing and threats to Beverly and desribes his new way of swearing (Sentimental swearing)

-Sir Anthony tell his son that he will make him master of a large estate, but tells him to gain independance by marrying the woman who he has chosen. There follows an outburst of rage from Sir A, threatens Jack that he will disown and disinherit Jack if he does not agree. Fag comes in to tell him how Sir Anthony has come downstairs and hit him with his cane. Jack pushes Fag out of the way, then Fag after then attacks an errand-boy.

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Act 2 Scene 2

- The scene is set in North Parade, where Lucy waiting for Sir Lucius, soliloquises, informing that Jack is now another of the rivals for Lydia, that Acres has been dismissed and that Sir Lucius expects a note from his Delia, she adds that he would not pay her so well if he knew Delia was nearly fifty and her mistress

- When Sir Lucius does arrive he reads the letter; he thinks that he is involved with Lydia, and that they must get the aunt's consent to their marriage.

- Sir Lucius leaves and Fag enters; he has seen Lucy giving Sir Lucius a letter and says he'll tell his master. Lucy assures him that the letter was from Mrs M and his master Beverly has a rival, now that Sir Anthony has proposed his son as a suitor.

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Act 3 Scene 1

- The scene is again in the North Parade, where Captain Absolute finds Fag's news amusing, that Sir Anthony wants to force him to marry the girl with whom he is plotting to run away with.

- When his father enters, he tells him that he has decided to sacrifice his own inclinations to Sir Anthony's satisfacation.

- He pretends to remember neither Mrs M nor Lydia. He pretends also to an indifference which makes him father think he shares no emotion.

- He says that Jack is being a hypocrite, but his son says that he is sorry that his father should so mistake the respect and duty he bears to him.

- On this Sir Anthony says he'll arrange for Jack to visit Lydia at once.

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Act 3 Scene 2

- This scene is between Faukland and Julia, which conveys excessive sensibility.

- Faukland's high flown speech expresses his self-regarding jealousy; he taxes Julia with her enjoying life in his absense. Julia has missed him and therefore tells him that she has pretended to be happy so that her friends should not think his unkindness had caused her tears.

- Faukland then fears she is grateful to him rather than loving him. He goes on until she leaves in tears. Then he is sorry for quarrelling with her and decides not to risk upsetting her again.

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Act 3 Scene 3

This scene is set in Mrs M's lodgings where she is recieving Jack.

- Mrs Malaprop says she has recieved another note from Beverly. Absolute realises this is the note he had given to Lucy earlier; he reads the letter aloud. In it Beverly had written that his new rival Absolute had 'the character of being an accomplished gentlemen and a man of honour'

- Absolute suggests that Mrs M should allow Lydia to correspond with Beverly and let her plot an elopement while he will have Beverly laid by the heels and carry off Lydia himself.

- Mrs M agrees and then goes off to bring Lydia to meet Jack. He thinks that though he could now abandon his disguise he would probably lose Lydia.

- When Lydia comes in and realises Beverly is there. he explains that he has deceived Mrs M, passing himself off on her as Jack. He proposes to her, asks her to run away with him but when Mrs M comes in Lydia seems to be cold to Jack saying that though her aunt's choice may be Absolute, her is Beverly.

- There follows with some very amusing conversation with double meanings, where both Mrs M and Lydia expose the ignorance of the true situation.

- Lydia denies having told Jack that she loves another man but Mrs M doesn't believe her, to which Lydia agrees, on which they all leave.

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Act 3 Scene 4

- In Acres lodgings, Acres is told by his servant David how different he is as a result of his new style of dressing. David leaves and Acres practices some dancing steps; he is visited by Sir Lucius, whos asks the reason for his visit to Bath.

- When Acres tells him that he has come to Bath and heard that the young lady he is in love with has another lover, Beverley.

- Sir Lucius tells him that if he thinks he has been treated unfairly he must fight this man who has dared to fall in love with the same woman.

- Acres argues that he does not know Beverly but Sir Lucius urges him on and Acres writes a formal letter asking Beverley to meet him at King's Mead Fields to settle the matter.

- Sir Lucius suggests that the meeting should take place as soon as possible, that evening. He regrets he cannot act as second to Acres but he himself has another similar affair on his hands, whom he is seeking to challenge to a duel.

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Act 4 Scene 1

- This scene also takes place in Acres' lodgings and also opens with talk between Acres and David. David takes a realistic view of duelling but Acres is concerned about his honour about disgracing his ancestors.

- David believes he can not win this duel but Acres is determined and tells him that he will not be put off by him. David leaves when Jack arrives and is asked by Acres to deliver a challenge to Beverly. He says that he will see that Beverly recieves it, but that he cannot act as Acre's second.

- Acres suggests that Jack tells Beverly that Acres kills a man a week and Absolute in leaving, assures him that he will describe him as 'FIGHTING BOB'

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Act 4 Scene 2

- This scene is the turning point of the play. Takes place in Mrs M's lodgings.

- Mrs M praises Captain Absolute to Lydia. Mrs M's rage when she discovers that Absolute is Lydia's Beverly. When Sir A and Jack are announced, Lydia will not even speak to or look at Jack.

- Sir A urges Jack to speak to Lydia but he begshis father to leave him alone with Lydia. Lydia is waiting for her aunt to discover that Jack is not the man who called on them earlier.

- Both Sir A and Mrs M urge them to speak to eachother. Jack speaks in a low, hoarse voice hoping that Lydia will not recognise it and look round. Lydia recognises Beverly and after some moments of disbelief, Sir A realises he has been taken in.

- Lydia is furious that there will be no elopment and it dawns on Mrs M that Beverley's letters were written by Jack. Sir A suggest that Mrs M should forgive them and let them to sort it out themselves.

- At first Lydia is cool and then furious that Jack has been humouring her romance, treating her like a child. It looks as if Lydia may forgive him but then she bursts into tears as Sir A and Mrs M reappaear.

- They are baffled by this but Lydia says she renounces him forever

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Act 4 Scene 3

- Sir Lucius is walking on the North Parade, looking for Jack who enters in a bad humour as his schemes have gone wrong.

- Sir Lucius quarrels with him, asking him to name his time and place; and Jack replies names the Spring Gardens that night however Sir Lucius suggests Kings Mead Fields instead at about 6, which Jack agrees to.

- Sir Lucius leaves, Faukland enters, to be told that Lydia's change of mind and of Sir Lucius's challenge and asks to act as Jack's second.

- Faukland tells Jack about his own quarrell with Julia blaming his own temper for it. A letter from Julia is brought by a servant. In this she forgives him and tells him she wishes to speak with him as soon as possible. Faukland then begins to wonder whether Julia is indelicate with her quick forgivness of him.

- Jack leaves as he has soon patience with him, thinking he is being ridiculous. Faukland then thinks he will use his involvement in the duel as a means of testing Julia's sincerity.

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Act 5 Scene 1

- This scene is set in Julia's dressing room. Julia has been upset by a message from Faukland, who comes in to take, he says a long farewell. He tells her he has to fly from the Kingdom immediately and wishes he had married her before this mischance. Julia replies that she will fly with him, he suggests she should take time to think this over but she says in the event of his fortune being forfeited she has enough for them to live on.

- He is worried that he might be an unpleasant person to live with, his wounded pride affecting his temper, to which she replies that he will need more of an affectionate person to console him. At this time he reveals that he has pretended the whole thing but asks her to forgive him and marry him the next day.

- Julia rejoices that he is free from crime but tells him how his cruel doubts have wrung her heart, She thinks he will never change his nature while she will never change her love for him and should not be the least of his regrets that he has lost the love of someone who would of been amazing to him. Faukland realises what he has done and what he has lost in Julia. He leaves for the duel.

- Lydia comes in and is joined by Julia, who does not say why she has been crying. Lydia finds that Julia knew who Beverly was; she expresses her disappointment at the idea of marriage instead of an elopement and recalls the plans. Julia urges her not to let her caprice ruin Jack's happiness.

At this point, Mrs M, Fag and David enter, and Fag tells the girls what he has already explained to Mrs M, that Jack is in a duel. Mrs M urges them to go and prevent the mischief.

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Act 5 Scene 2

- Jack hiding his sword under his coat is on the South Parade, where he tries to avoid his father, pretending to be someone else, then he tells him it was a joke.

- Sir Anthony discovers the concealed sword, but his son explains that he intends, if Lydia will not forgive him to threaten to fall on it and die at her feet.

- Sir Anthony thinks this may be the very thing that will please her.

- Jack leaves, just before David appears, running and urging Sir A to stop Jack. He explains that there is to be a fight at Kings's Mead Fields. Sir Anthony and him leave at once.

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Act 5 Scene 3

- Acres and Sir Lucius are at Kings's Mead Fields, Sir Lucius measuring out a short distance, while Acres argues in favour of forty yards between opponents. Sir Lucius asks him if he could do anything in case of an accident and Acres therefore gives advice on how to stand.When Sir Lucius sees two men coming over, Acres becomes very worried.

- At this point Faukland and Jack reach them. Sir Lucius assums Jack has come to second his friend and then fight his own duel because he thinks Faukland is Beverley.

- Jack explains he is Beverley and Acres said he would never quarrel with a friend. After some time, Sir Lucius thinks it's time he and Jack began. They had just drawn their swords when David and the women arrive. Sir A demands reasons for the duel and his sons explains that Sir Lucius called him out without explaining the reasons.

- Mrs M interrupts the men, telling Absolute that Lydia has been terrified on his account. Lydia then says she wants to marry Jack. Mrs M admits to Sir Lucius that she is his Delia, but he finds this hard to believe.

-  Julia yet again forgives Faukland where Sir A urges Julia to marry him directly saying that his faults are just showing his affections for her. Faukland acknowledges the power of their ladies in reforming them, Jack teases him for having created his own troubles.

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