The Man of Mode
Verbal brilliance, urbane sophistication and sexual conquest are the measures of success for the fashionable set who watched themselves being represented on the Restoration stage. Yet idealization and satire, as this edition of Etherege's masterpiece shows, are flip sides of the same coin, and the play betrays deep anxieties about ridicule and social failure. Any London beau would emulate Dorimant, the unconscionable rake who loves 'em and leaves 'em, but he would also secretly fear that he in fact resembled Sir Fopling Flutter, the model of all Restoration fops, in his vanity and affectation. The women fare no better, being offered for identification Dorimant's discarded mistress Loveit, scheming for revenge, or the beautiful but hard-headed Harriet, who dares Dorimant to woo her in the country, for 'I know all beyond Hyde Park is a desert to you and that no gallantry can draw you farther'.