Comedy of Manners and 18th Cent. Theatre

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  • During the english civil war (1642-1651) and during Cromwells 'rule' over the common wealth, theatres were closed
  • Charles II came to the throne in 1660, and re-opened the theatres, this was known as the restoration period, many plays and comedies were written and performed. They were very bawdy (racy, cheeky) and savagely satirized and exposed corruption, depravity and vice. This was roughly 1660-1710.
  • When Sheridan began writing, 1775, comedies had begun to calm down and become gentler. These are known as the Comedy of Manners.
  • They poke fun at the social classes, the follies and foibles of the middle and upper classes mainly, rather than savagely satirizing corruption. They didnt laugh at the politics like the ones before, this means they weren't neccesarily satirical in the same sense. 
  • A Comedy of Manners presented a small cast of exagerated types with amusing idisyncrasies. For example a handsome male lead, a rival for the heroine's affection, the heavy handed father, a strict guardian, a scheming servant. 
  • The Rivals is a comedy of manners not a


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