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Rivals ; And, School Scandal
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Sheridan's revolt against the spirit of sentimentalism was only partial; he maintained the attitude of sexual morality that was common in the drama, if not the life, of the eighteenth century. Rowley informs him of Sir Peter's marriage. Sir Oliver is inclined to agree with Rowley's judgment of the relative worth of his two nephews.
Sir Peter enters; the old friends greet each other and go off together. Commentary Sir Oliver is, presumably, the shrewd businessman who knows human nature.
Such knowledge requires a little cynicism. Sir Oliver is cynical about Sir Peter's marriage, and he considers his nephews' behavior with a realistic eye. If "everybody in the world speaks well of" someone, then that man has "bowed as low to knaves and fools as to the honest dignity of genius and virtue. Rowley knows Moses, a moneylender from whom Charles has borrowed money. Sir Oliver then intends to visit Joseph as Mr. Stanley, a distant relative who has lost his money and has applied to both brothers for help. After Moses coaches Sir Oliver in the jargon and the behavior of the moneylender, the new and temporary partnership leaves to visit Charles.
After their departure, Sir Peter first has an unhappy scene with Maria. She will not disobey her guardian by marrying Charles, but she will not consent to marry Joseph. When she leaves, Lady Teazle enters. Their conversation starts pleasantly enough, but, before long, one of the usual family arguments develops.
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Commentary It is characteristic of satire that it attacks everything it touches, so that a satiric approach always applies to both sides of any argument. While a satire on moneylenders is hardly a major theme in The School for Scandal, the scenes with Moses display an irony that is more than double-edged. It would be easy to portray Moses as a monster, but Sheridan does not. Usury is attacked, but so are the people who are its willing, and even enthusiastic, victims.
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Sir Oliver obviously does not approve of Moses; but it is a greater shock to him to discover that Mr. Premium, whom he is replacing, is a Christian. By implication, irony is directed at those Englishmen who would undertake such a profession and at those who are too complacent to believe that an Englishman would engage in such a profession. The ward prevented from marrying against the wishes of her guardian is an old device, one that Sheridan himself also used in The Rivals. The scene between Sir Peter and Maria shows differences between this play and plays of the Restoration.resnstafedaf.tk
The Rivals and the School for Scandal by R. B. Sheridan. First Edition | Rare and Antique Books
Maria is not as rebellious at his choice of a husband; Sir Peter is not as violent at her recalcitrance. A clue to the scenes between Sir Peter and Lady Teazle lies in his final speech in this scene, "But I'll not bear her presuming to keep her temper. She is suave, urbane, and, to the audience, delightfully self-indulgent.
Premium, arrive at Charles Surface's house. Sir Oliver gets his first introduction to the profligate through Trip, Charles' servant. Trip, it seems, is also trying to borrow money from Moses; he has endorsers, talks about annuities, and is prepared to "insure" his post. Commentary Trip is a comic type that Sheridan used in other plays, including The Rivals: the servant who copies the manners, especially the vices, of his master.
His postures, like his clothes, are, after all, hand-me-downs. Apparently perfunctory, this scene contains an element of suspense. We are waiting to see how the brothers will perform in their tests. Our sympathies are with Charles, who is already losing ground to Joseph. When Moses and Premium enter, they interrupt the drinking and singing, and the guests leave the room. Premium" is not anxious to lend Charles money on the expectation of Sir Oliver's death; he is, however, prepared to buy plate or property. Since family plate and property have already been sold, Charles offers to sell the family portraits.
They all leave for the picture room. Commentary Although we have heard a great deal about Charles, he appears for the first time in this scene. There is perhaps some burden on the actor: Charles is so long awaited that it is difficult for him to live up to expectations. The somewhat unusual play structure here may be due to the fact that this play was put together from the two "Sketches"--The Slanderers and The Teazles.
We might guess that in an earlier age the party which the moneylenders interrupt would have included some women of ambiguous, or quite unambiguous, morals. There is obvious humor in the scene while Charles talks about his uncle to his uncle. Since Moses knows who Mr. Premium is, there is opportunity for considerable by-play; Moses may try to stop Charles at the same time that he abets Sir Oliver. The selling of individual pictures proves too slow for him, and he starts selling them in batches.
Sir Oliver is shocked by the heartlessness of his nephew. However, when they come to the picture of Sir Oliver, painted before he went to India, Charles refuses to sell it: "I'll not part with poor Noll. The old fellow has been very good to me, and egad, I'll keep his picture while I've a room to put it in. He buys the rest and leaves.
When Rowley enters, Charles immediately gives him the draft for pounds and asks that he change it and take a hundred pounds to Stanley for his "wants are pressing, and if you don't make haste, we shall have some one call that has a better right to the money.
Charles displays the kind of sentimentalism that Sheridan accepts and approves. He does not mouth pious platitudes, but he makes the generous gesture, commits the act of kindness that is not prudent but reveals the kindly heart. It is probably beside the point to question the ethics of his generosity when Charles has so many debtors who, he admits, have just, prior claims on the money. The ironic attitude to usury is developed further in this scene. The casual good-natured contempt Charles shows for the moneylender is the same kind of contempt Trip showed earlier, although Trip displayed less good manners.
But Charles is headed for bankruptcy, and Moses is just as clearly about to found a banking dynasty. It is an open question which of the two feels the greater contempt for the other.
It is interesting to speculate how long Sheridan played with the idea for this scene. As Moses says, "Ah, there is the pity of it all; he is so damned charitable. It is clear that this is not her first visit. When Joseph's attempt at seduction is interrupted by the arrival of her husband, Lady Teazle hides behind a screen. Sir Peter talks first of his concern that his wife may be having an affair with Charles. Then he announces that he intends to make her an independent allowance since money is so often the cause of their arguments.
All this time Joseph is trying to change the conversation to some safe subject. To add to the confusion, Charles is announced, and Sir Peter wants to hide so as to hear whatever Charles might say about Lady Teazle. Before Joseph gets him into the closet, Sir Peter sees a bit of a lady's skirt behind the screen; he does not see the lady. Charles also seems to pick unfortunate subjects for conversation.
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He discusses the fact that he thinks Lady Teazle has shown some partiality to Joseph. In desperation, Joseph reveals the fact that Sir Peter is hidden in the closet, and Charles immediately calls him out. On the basis of the conversation, Sir Peter is convinced that Charles has not been having an affair with his wife. The servant comes in to tell Joseph that someone is waiting to see him below.
The Rivals and The School For Scandal
Charles insists on "unveiling" her, and Lady Teazle is revealed just as Joseph returns. After some biting remarks, Charles leaves. Joseph concocts a story of Lady Teazle's coming to talk about his pretensions to Maria, but Lady Teazle refuses to support him. Impressed by the kindness Sir Peter intended to show, she tells him the truth: "I came. It is also one of the most famous in English comedy. At scene's end, the comic villain is unmasked: He loses prospects of inheritance, of a likely mistress, of a wealthy wife; he is about to lose public reputation and become the subject for the next meeting of the scandalmongers.
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