The Rivals

Front Cover
Nick Hern Books, 1994 - Drama - 98 pages
14 Reviews

Drama Classics: The World's Great Plays at a Great Little Price

Lydia Languish, a young woman from a good family, holds on to an impossible romantic ideal of love, and resolves only to marry a pauper. So Jack Absolute pretends to be a poor soldier in order to win her hand. Meanwhile, Jack's father is attempting to procure the match through the proper channel of Lydia's guardian, and Jack becomes a rival to himself, before he is finally challenged to duels by rival suitors in both his identities...

The Rivals is a set text for AQA GCSE English Language and Literature and EdExcel A/AS-Level English Literature.

Edited and introduced by Colin Counsell.

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Review: The Rivals

User Review  - Jonathan Dauermann - Goodreads

For a play written almost 200 years after Shakespeare's comedies, it's telling that this play feels much more dated. A marriage comedy that requires multiple characters to take the most convoluted ... Read full review

Review: The Rivals

User Review  - Laurence Li - Goodreads

rich people bitching--in a very (cerebrally) humorous way! Read full review

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About the author (1994)

The son of Thomas Sheridan, the Irish actor and theater manager, Richard Brinsley Sheridan began writing plays as a youngster in Bath. He went on to become one of the most successful playwrights of the later eighteenth century, manager of the Drury Lane Theater, and also a politician and orator of some note in the House of Commons. Along with his friends David Garrick (seeVol. 3) and Oliver Goldsmith, Sheridan was a member of the Literary Club of Samuel Johnson, having been proposed for membership by Johnson himself. Like Goldsmith, Sheridan also attacks "The Sentimental Muse" of weeping comedy. In his best-known play, The School for Scandal (1777), Sheridan revives the Restoration comedy of manners with its portrait of the beau monde and its deflation of hypocrisy. The play is indebted to William Congreve as well as to Moliere (see Vol. 2), and the picture of society is based on Bath and London. In The Rivals (1775), Sheridan amuses himself with the language games of Mrs. Malaprop and her "nice derangement of epitaphs." The allusions are consistently literary, as in her simile "as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile." Sheridan's acute ear for banalities and truisms is best seen in The Critic (1779), a burlesque of sentimental and inflated plays as well as self-important criticism. The play ridicules "false Taste and brilliant Follies of modern dramatic Composition." Sheridan's sparking dialogue, lively scenes, and masterful dramatic construction have proved to be enduringly popular.

Counsell teaches at the University of North London.

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