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Remind yourself of Act III Scene 1, Consider the dramatic significance of this episode and what it tells audience about eighteenth century views of marriage

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Introduction

Remind yourself of Act III Scene 1, from line 167, where Lady Teazle enters, to the end of the scene. Consider the dramatic significance of this episode in the play and what it tells the audience about eighteenth century views of marriage. Within this scene Sheridan further develops his characters with particular focus on Sir Peter Teazle who is largely exposed in his role as companion to Rowley and Sir Oliver, guardian to Charles, Joseph and Maria and also as husband to Lady Teazle. His stubbornness is revealed throughout, demonstrated by his ill-feelings for Charles, officious behaviour toward Maria and culminates with his inability to control his temper when bickering with his wife. And yet, in spite of such an unfavourable conduct, it is difficult for the audience to harbour any real resentment for the 'old dangling bachelor'. He might lose the ongoing verbal battles with Lady Teazle, but succeeds in gaining a degree of sympathy as we are privy to yet another of his sentimental asides concerning, but in the absence of his wife, 'How happy I should be if could tease her into loving me, though but a little'. ...read more.

Middle

In light of this not being the first display of such comical sparring between husband and wife, nor an exclusive instance where Lady Teazle has been victorious, it may be concluded that such behaviour challenges the social expectations of the eighteenth century audience including their conception of the dominant male and more submissive female role and marriage ideals. Yet when put into context within the comedy that is 'The School For Scandal' it becomes apparent that Sheridan has more subtly conformed to such ideals. Of course, Lady Teazle may prove to be superior when engaging in witty repartee and always has the last word 'Well you are going to be in a passion, I see, and I shall only interrupt you; so bye bye!' but the fact that she had to seek out her husband for the two hundred pounds 'Do be good-humoured now and let me have two hundred pounds, will you?' highlights her dependence upon him. Though seemingly only a financial dependence, for the eighteenth century audience there was an inextricable link between money and marriage which of course is not an alien concept even in today's world. ...read more.

Conclusion

The transition of the dialogue is of great dramatic significance in its representation of the fragility and vulnerability of relationships, not only as defined in this instance between husband and wife, but as a general theme. Of course such fickleness is central to the theme of scandal and its consequences within the play. The same scandal-mongering, which despite his protests to the contrary, seems to have had a profound effect on Sir Peter as is revealed during the argument with his wife: 'Yes, madam, I now believe the reports relative to you and Charles madam. Yes, madam, you and Charles are, not without grounds - '. It is most ironic to hear such an assumption from the same man who earlier asserted 'Oh, nine out of ten of the malicious interventions are founded on some ridiculous misrepresentation.' Sheridan is successful in demonstrating that few are exempt from the power and seduction of gossip and scandal whether intentionally indulging themselves in it for their own gain, or whether falling victim to it as a result of naivety and gullibility. ?? ?? ?? ?? Gemma Schuck AS English Literature The School For Scandal - Assignment One ...read more.

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