Restoration era and few of the playwrights of the Comedy of Manners
Before coming to the Restoration Era, we need to know a bit about the background so that we can understand the reason behind the name of this age. The puritan movement was all about the intellectual awakening and reformation. It all happened under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell, but after his death the entire scenario was changed. After the assassination of King Charles, the first, Charles the second went to France to spend the exile. But later in 1660, when the Cromwellian period was over, he came and ascended the throne. This time is marked as the Restoration Period. With this the whole scenario of England was changed. The theater houses were reopened and there is a moral degradation found in each and every aspect of the Royal Society of 1662. In this article we’ll talk about some of the playwrights who contributed in this period. So, let’s look into them in detail –
George Etherege, one of the earliest playwrights
Whenever we are talking about the Comedy of Manners, the first name that comes to mind is George Etherege. One of his first plays, named The Comical Revenge, or Love in a Tub (1664) became the first representative of Comedy of Manners. His other renowned plays can be She Would if She Could (1668) and The Man of Mode (1676). The latter is the most precise comedy of him as it mocks the folly of sir Fopling Flutter as he is excessively concerned regarding his clothing and fashion. This play also showcases the criticism of its other characters.
William Wycherley, another well known name
When we are talking about William Wycherley, how can we miss The Country Wife? Because the obscene and sexually intriguing content it has, we hardly find this in any other restoration comedy. This comedy is full of seduction, hypocrisy and ambiguity. In this play, the dramatist has introduced a womanizer named Horner who is disguised as an impotent to seduce the women of the town. The famous ‘china scene’ is considered the best example of ambiguity in this play.
Vanbrugh is best known not only as a dramatist but also as an architect and he designed Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard. His well- known comedies include The Relapse or The Virtue in Danger. It is a sequel to Colly Cibber’s Love’s Last Shift. The Provoked Wife is also another Restoration comedy which deals with the infidelity of a virtuous wife, which is provoked by her husband’s bad nature.
Overall, these plays were just made for the sake of entertainment and profit. They lack the social message and deal only with the aristocratic lifestyle where there was no place for the ordinary English people.