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•April 14, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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“The Belle’s Stratagem” by Hannah Cowley

•April 12, 2007 • 2 Comments

The Belle’s Stratagem by Hannah Cowley is a play that focuses on ‘errors in discerning appearance from reality’. What I found interesting about this play is that it offers the reader a different perspective on marriage. We are no longer subjected to the narrow-minded and one-dimensional view of marriage that has been dominant throughout the plays thus far. Marriage is no longer viewed as the end of existence, but as a union between two individuals that are in love and care for one another. One of the aspects that I enjoyed about this play is that Cowley presents the reader with two different versions of marriage. The unions between Lady Frances & Sir George, and Letitia & Doricourt are the focus throughout the play.   

Lady France and Sir George have a somewhat perplexed marriage.  Although it is evident that they love one another, jealousy and a lack of cultural experience often come between them. Sir George spends the majority of the play protecting his wife from the
London elements. At the beginning of the play he is overjoyed that he has found himself a “fine lady”, a lady that is content at home and does not wonder the town, but as Lady
Frances explores her sociable nature, Sir George becomes a jealous husband. Although Sir George is somewhat overbearing at the beginning of the play, I must say that I really liked his character. It is evident throughout the play that Sir George truly loves his wife. Even after they quarrel, he can only think of her. This play reveals the notion of love and emotional connection that is apparent in marriage, a belief that has only appeared a few times throughout the plays.
 

Letitia and Doricourt marriage was a union that I found intriguing. I love the fact that although Letitia loved Doricourt, she was not willing to marry him if he did not truly love her. I guess I have become so accustomed to affairs and mistresses that I was startled when the notion of love what brought to light. Although it could be easily argued that Doricourt was tricked into marriage, Letitia was able to win over his heart by the end of the play. It could possible be the romantic taking over within me, but I really enjoyed their cat and mouse relationship.

“The School for Scandal” by Richard Sheridan

•April 12, 2007 • 1 Comment

The School for Scandal by Richard Sheridan is truly a STANDALOUS play. Prior to reading the play, I read the introduction and felt that I was not going to like the play, but surprisingly I found the play entertaining. The play steps away from unfulfilling marriages and bawdiness, and reveals notions that we have yet to uncover thus far this term.  It becomes evident in the first act that the play encompasses notions concerning scandals, misconceptions, and misfortunes. The lives and relationships of the characters are centered on fabrications and rumours:        “To my knowledge [Mrs. Clackit] has been the cause of six matches being broken off and three sons being disinherited, of four forced elopements, as many close confinements, nine separate maintenances, and two divorces. Nay, I more than once traced her causing a tete-a-tete in the Town and Country Magazine.” (I.I. 16-22)  

Although I found Lady Sweerwell’s character shallow and lacking, I could not help but smile at her failed attempt to obtain Charles. Throughout the play she lies and manipulates characters believing that she will have Charles, although she comes close to obtaining him,  her lies ultimately get her no where. I do not believe I would have found the play entertaining if Lady Sweerwell had not been exposed for the women that she truly was.  We finally encounter a play where the bad are punished and good are rewarded, a notion that was really refreshing. 

Once again there was a reference to chocolate, “Mr. Snake drinking chocolate.” Over the course of this term these statements has become very appealing to me… and I know that I am not the only person with this mindset…lol… Although the notion is stimulating, I feel as thought there is some hidden secret in the words themselves. I possibly am reading into it to far, but there have been numerous references to chocolate throughout the plays.

“The Beggar’s Opera” by John Gay

•April 11, 2007 • Leave a Comment

            The Beggar’s Opera” by John Gay is one of the best plays that I have read thus far. Although I have become accustomed to plays that degrade and dehumanize marriage, this play sheds a new light on the notion of marriage.  It becomes evident early on in the play that marriage is viewed as a union that hinders economic profits and advances. The play reinforces the notion that if women are to get ahead they must remain single and promiscuous.  I must say that I was somewhat taken back and startled in the manner that Peachum speaks to his daughter:  

“Polly, I am not against your toying and trifling with a customer in the way of business or to get out a secret or so. But if I find out that you have played the fool and are married, you jade you, I’ll cut your throat, hussy. Now you know my mind” (Gay, I.VII. 19-23).  

Peachum is willing to disown his own daughter because she has married and will no longer be a means of income for him. Yet this economic theme becomes a driving force throughout the play. Peachum’s and Lockit’s business largely is focused about trading, selling, and stealing. Handkerchiefs, snuff boxes, gold watches, clothing, and even women become a means to secure wealth. Even the harlots fight amongst themselves because they believe that they are owed a fraction of another women’s profit. The women try to present themselves in the best attire possible so they will earn a higher profit. One of the instances that I found extremely amusing was when Macheath was taken to jail and Lockit goes though the speech that explains his jail time can be more comfortable for a price. Something as trivial as imprisonment has been transformed so that an individual can make a profit. I guess the notion that ‘money speaking loader then words’ comes into play here.  

One interesting thing that I noticed in this play is that Gay, like Congreve’s The Way of the World, makes reference to a “chocolate house” (Gay, I.IV. 54). When first mentioned I thought that this notion was mouth watering…lol.. but since it has been restated by yet another author I have become interested in this idea. I do not know a lot about Drama during this time period and I was wondering if any of my fellow classmates could help me out or explain what a ‘chocolate house’ is. I think that a ‘chocolate house’ corresponded in some way with a sexual desire and appetite, possible a whore house of some sort, but I do not know for certain. 

“A Bold Stroke for a Wife” by Susanna Centlivre

•March 23, 2007 • 4 Comments

All hope of me writing a serious blog entry has vanished after watching the performance of “A Bold Sock for a Wife.”…lol… A picture of Jay frantically trying to remove the safety pins on Colonel Fainwell’s costumes is permanently etched in my memory. Even though I can no longer view the characters as humans, I must say that I really enjoyed Susanna Centlivre’s “A Bold Stroke for a Wife.” This play steps away from the false-fronted marriages that we have become accustomed to in this course. Marriage is no longer centered around seduction, adultery, and promiscuity. The play offers a new realization that love is the foundation for marriage, or possibly what i perceive to be love. Colonel Fainwell is truly in love with Mrs. Lovely before he is aware of her fortune:  

COLONEL: Why, faith, Freeman, there is something in’t; I have seen a lady at
Bath
who has kindled such a flame in me that all the waters there can’t quench (1.1.4-6)  

Colonel Fainwell’s view of marriage was refreshing. Instead of a male viewing marriage as the end of existence, Colonel Fainwell was willing to go to great extents to enter into matrimony with Mrs. Lovely.  He devises a plan to appease Mrs. Lovely’s guardians in the hope that he would win her hand in marriage.  It could possible be the romantic taking over within me, but I really enjoyed Colonel Fainwell’s character.  

Although I had some preconceived notions that Mrs. Lovely would be a dominate and authoritative wife, I enjoyed her character. She was not overpowering but she was a strong woman. Mrs. Lovely was not going to simply marry and give up her wealth like the majority of female characters in the previous plays. She has revealed that women can be strong and still be viewed as feminine.  

This play has given me a hope that the plays to follow will portray marriage and gender relations in a positive light, but I could possibly be to optimistic.

“The Beaux’ Stratagem” by George Farquhar

•March 22, 2007 • 2 Comments

The Beaux’ Stratagem by George Farquhar is a play that presents a terrible outcome on love and marriage. Farquhar depicts Mrs. Sullen as a frustrated wife, trapped in a marriage with no escape in sight, well at least in the beginning stages of the play. The Sullen’s are trapped in a relationship fuelled by hatred. They do not even have mutual respect for one another. During the time period of the plays, it was difficult, if not impossible to get a divorce (Drama History).  Even if Mrs. Sullen did get a divorce, she would have been bankrupt because all of her money now belonged to her husband. Her dilemma seems hopeless when Dorinda states, “You must have Patience” (IV.I. 450), Mrs. Sullen replies, “Patience! the Cant of Custom–Providence sends no Evil without a Remedy–shou’d I lie groaning under a Yoke I can shake off, I were accessory to my Ruin, and my Patience were no better than self-Murder” (IV.I. 451-454). Then a few lines later, Mrs. Sullen states, 

 “O Sister, casual Violation is a transient Injury, and may possibly be repair’d, but can radical Hatreds be ever reconcil’d?–No, no, Sister, Nature is the first Lawgiver, and when she has set Tempers opposite, not all the golden Links of Wedlock, nor Iron Manacles of Law can keep ‘um fast.” (IV.I.464- 469) 

Mrs. Sullen is a tragic figure when we see her in her role as wife to Sullen, but she is comical as she acts like she is in love with Archer, with reminds me of the women running after Mr. Horner in “The Country Wife”. I can still hear Mrs. Margery Pinchwife at the thought of that notion…lol…. The Sullen marriage ends in divorce and the traditional comic resolution is still kept intact with the announcement of the marriage of Aimwell and Dorinda. Once again the happy ending is achieved.  

“The Fair Penitent” by Nicholas Rowe

•February 27, 2007 • 9 Comments

“The Fair Penitent” by Nicholas Rowe, is undoubtedly the best play that I have read thus fair. I really enjoyed the plot line that Rowe develops in his “She-tragedy.” In contrast to being overwhelmed with death and adultery, Rowe builds the readers intrigue and attention as the play unfolds, the read somewhat accepts the death of Calista as a result of the build-up. I found the introduction of the foil female characters, Calista and Lavinia, very fascinating. Both Calista and Lavinia are wives, but they both demonstrate characteristic from opposite ends of the spectrum. Lavinia symbolizes the “ideal wife,” she is kind, compassionate, and loyal to her husband. Lavinia portrays a wife that is expected and demanded in this era. Calista fosters resentment toward her husband and she does not remain “true” to her virginity. Even after Calista is married she continues to secretly meet with Lothario, which continues to jeopardize her role as a wife.  Although Calista might be misconceived as having characteristics of a wife at the end of the play, I believe that Calista’s superficial persona is just a last minute resort to get sympathy from readers. 

 I must say that I did sympathise with Altamont’s character. He had so much love and compassion for Calista, even after he found out about her loss of virginity his love did not falter. Altamont was even willing to give his life to be with Calista after death. That is a very bold statement that not a lot of men would be willing to do. Although Altamont did condone and hate Horatio for ultimately telling the truth, it was a misconception, he was once again standing up for Calista’s name and his wife.  

The conclusion of the play did remind me of Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” when King Lear has his dieing Ophelia in his arms. Although the circumstances are altered and it was Calista that wronged her father, which ultimately caused his death, the bond between father and daughter is vividly present.