Four Restoration Marriage Plays
Marriage and its discontents lie at the heart of Restoration comedy. In all four of the great plays gathered here for the first time, a married woman confronts her would-be seducer. Each dramatist, however, totally reinterprets that situation. Thomas Otway's The Soldier's Fortune convertsadultery into political revenge. Nathaniel Lee's The Princess of Cleves offers a potent and perplexing portrait of a libertine in action at the sixteenth century French court. John Dryden's Amphitryon, set in ancient Thebes, retells the story in which Jupiter lures the virtuous Alcmena intocuckolding her husband by a stratagem which throws into doubt the nature of human identity. Thomas Southerne's The Wives' Excuse reinvents, for the new circumstances of the 1690s, the familiar Restoration plot of a wife spurred towards infidelity by her partner's failings. Rich, diverse, andinventive, these plays demonstrate the intensity and vigour with which the institution of marriage was interrogated in the post-1660 playhouses. The texts of the plays have been newly edited and are presented with modernized spelling and punctuation. In addition there is a scholarly introductionand detailed annotation.
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Note on the Texts I
THE PRINCESS OF CLEVES
AmPHITRYON OR THE TWO SOsiAS
hy John Dryden
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