Posted at 10.11.2018
The aim of satiric humor was to subvert the cultural structures, in line with the Glossary, satiric comedy "ridicules political policies or philosophical doctrines, if not episodes deviations from the interpersonal order by causing ridiculous the violators of its benchmarks of morals or manners" (Abrams 39). Thus the first goal of satire on the whole is to "deconstruct" the public and political constructions; this is employed by Aristophanes, and in the Renaissance by Ben Jonson. The humor of manners originated by Menander, paved just how for Restoration funny that was ripened by the French dramatist Moliere. Following the popularity of Repair comedy in Great britain in eighteenth century, the sentimental funny started to dominate the level as a effect against that which was expected as immorality of Recovery comedy, but nonetheless two major dramatists sustained writing in Repair comedies: Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer and his modern-day Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The School for Scandal. Among both, Sheridan's play satirizes not only the upper-class social framework but also the contents of sentimental crisis itself.
The play shows a dichotomy of good and bad in eighteenth century world and that how the sentimental codes of patterns has limited the good/wicked binary into a set pretension: this dichotomy is depicted as the top brothers: as their brands suggest they may be judged only according to their external surfaces and surface patterns: in the first world Miss Verjuice describes both brothers, Joseph and Charles Surface, this way:
here are two young men--to whom Sir Peter has acted as a kind
of Guardian since their Father's fatality, the eldest possessing
the most amiable Character and universally well spoken of,
the youngest the most dissipated and luxurious young Fellow
in the Kingdom, without Friends or identity (I:i)
through the next lines it is revealed that the elder sibling, Joseph, who may have evidently "the most amiable Figure" has conspired a storyline with girl Sneerwell to come between your love marriage of Charles and Maria (Sir Peter's ward) so that Joseph can marry Maria and Lady Sneerwll, a widow, can possess the young Charles who's now bankrupt. Girl Sneerwell clarifies about Joseph: "His real connection is to Maria or her Fortune--/but finding in his Brother a favoured Rival, He has been appreciated/to mask his Pretensions--and profit by my Assistance. " And then confesses her desire to have Charles:
"must I confess that Charles--that Libertine, that
extravagant, that Bankrupt in Fortune and Reputation--that He
it is for whom I am thus stressed and malicious also to gain whom
I would sacrifice-everything" (I:i)
From these confessions the audience is aware that Joseph who's universally well spoken of is a scams, but since he's a good "pretender" and knows what the modern culture demands to act as an honorable man, so he is seen by everyone even those who know he is pretending as "a guy of sentiment".
LADY SNEERWELL. I have found out
him quite a while since, altho' He has contrived to deceive
everybody beside--I know him to be artful selfish and malicious--
while with Sir Peter, and even with all his acquaintance,
He goes by for a younger looking Wonder of Prudence--good sense
VERJUICE. Yes yes--I know Sir Peter vows He has not his equal
in Britain; and, above all, He praises him as a guy OF SENTIMENT.
LADY SNEERWELL. True and with the help of his sentiments
and hypocrisy he has brought Sir Peter entirely in his interests
with respect to Maria and is now I believe attempting to flatter
Lady Teazle in to the same good view towards him--while poor
Charles has no Friend in the House--though I fear he has a powerful
one in Maria's Heart, against whom we should direct our schemes.
In the next picture, Rowley informs Sir Peter that Sir Oliver has arrived from the West Indies and is also in the town; Sir Oliver, the brothers' uncle would like to choose his mane, thus he is to come and visit his nephews whom has not seen him since youth and therefore cannot understand him by appearance. Of their conversation it is clear that it is only Rowley that sees through the two gentlemen:
ROWLEY. You know Sir Peter I have always considered the Liberty to differ
with you about these two young Gentlemen--I only wish
you may not be deceived in your thoughts and opinions of the elder. For Charles,
my life on't! He will retrieve his errors yet--their worthy Daddy,
once my honour'd learn, was at his years practically as wild a spark. (I:ii)
But even Sir Peter cannot refuse the importance of the rules of sentiment for a young man
Joseph is indeed a model
for the teenagers of the Age--He is a guy of Sentiment--and operates up
to the Sentiments he professes--but for the other, take my word
for't if he previously any grain of Virtue by descent--he has dissipated it
with the rest of his inheritance. (I:ii)
Changing appearances once again enables the people: this time Sir Oliver, that has made a decision to put his nephews over a trial, is defined to meet Charles as Top quality, a broker. When they meet, Charles proposes reselling his ancestor's portraits to the broker for getting money; this makes Sir Oliver furious, but Charles' denial of offering Sir Oliver's own family portrait even for eight hundred pounds; under the mask of an agent, Sir Oliver recognizes the kind character of his nephew:
CHARLES. No, hang it! I'll not part with poor Noll. The old fellow
has been very good if you ask me, and, egad, I'll keep his picture while I've
a room to put it in.
SIR OLIVER. [Apart. ] The rogue's my nephew in the end!
Contrary to the intended social values of an honorable man in eighteenth century, here Sheridan let's the audience have faith over a lax man who unlike a man of sentiment, "loves wine beverage and women" and places his ancestors on an auction for the money. He shifts the binaries of good/wicked, moral/immoral, gentleman/rogue giving attributes of one to the other and vice versa.
Just as performances can be handy for pretenders such as Joseph, Sheridan makes a comic picture in unveiling of performances in the famous catalogue scene in action 4 world three; Joseph who secretly woos Sir Peter's young partner, Lady Teazle, hides her behind a display screen when Sir Peter gets into unexpectedly, sharing with Joseph that he feels his wife comes with an affair with Charles, another visitor is Charles himself, Sir Peter also hides in the wardrobe to listen to his reaction to what he's accused of. Sir Peter comes from the wardrobe when he realizes that Charles is innocent and when Joseph goes out, tells Charles that Joseph has a girl, a French Milliner, with himself who is now in this room; Charles gets interested to see her and unveils the screen: with their astonishment it is Lady Teazle located there. Charles asks all of them to explain the problem:
CHARLES. Sir Peter--This is one of the smartest French Milliners
I ever saw!--Egad, you seem to be all to possess been diverting yourselves
here at Cover and Seek--and I don't see who is from the Secret!--
Shall I beg your Ladyship to inform me!--Not a term!--Sibling!--
will you please to clarify this matter? What! is Credibility Dumb too?--
Sir Peter, though I came across you in the Dark--perhaps you aren't so
now--all mute! Well tho' I could make nothing of the Affair, I make
no doubt nevertheless, you perfectly understand one another--so I'll leave you
to yourselves. --[Heading. ] Brother I'm sorry to find you have given
that worthwhile man grounds for a whole lot uneasiness!--Sir Peter--there's
nothing in the world so commendable as a man of Sentiment!-(IV:iii)
Charles' contrast of the problem to a casino game (cover and seek) is a subversive go through the upper-class society of the time; suggesting the fact that all these people of sentiment all playing roles in the overall game, and that when being found out by others they lose the game since their intended nobility is gone. They are decent, righteous fellows as long as they are hidden, so when they are found the game is over and together their dignity is over. This is actually the deconstructive view of a supposed noble world and this is exactly what Sheridan predicts for pretenders of his time. The irony found in Charles' witty comment to Sir Peter: "there's/nothing in the world so noble as a guy of Sentiment!" hints the audience as well as Sir Peter and folks who feels like him, that the "statement" is a void pretension, simply a tool for villains to do something out as a nobility.
The main middle of the composition of social ethics and key points which is "sentiment" is very decentered and deconstructed when Sir Oliver encounters this time around Joseph: "However now I am no more/a Broker, so you shall create me to the elder Sibling/as Stanley". Once more borrowing another id, (of Stanley a poor comparative of the brothers' moms), Sir Oliver is to test Joseph, who unaware of the true identity of his companion, does not react his sentiments and declares that his uncle Oliver has done nothing for him:
SURFACE. My dear Sir--you are strangely misinformed--Sir Oliver
is a worthy Man, a worthwhile man--a very suitable sort of Man--but avarice
Mr. Stanley is the vice of age--I will tell you my good Sir in
confidence:--what he has done for me has been a mere--nothing;
tho' People I understand have thought otherwise and for my Part I never
chose to contradict the Survey.
SIR OLIVER. What!--has he never transmitted--you--Bullion--Rupees--
SURFACE. O Dear Sir--Nothing of the kind--no--no--a few Presents
now and then--china, shawls, congo Tea, Avadavats--and indian
Crackers--little more, trust me.
SIR OLIVER. Here's Gratitude for twelve thousand pounds!--
Avadavats and indian Crackers. (V:i)
Joseph even refuses supplying money to the expected Mr. Stanley who has come for borrowing money and instead flatters himself for what he has done for "that unlucky son" and accuses Charles of being luxurious. Later Sir Oliver and Rowley, knowing what Joseph did to Sir Peter tease his ideas of "sentiment".
SIR OLIVER. I come only to let you know,
that I have seen both my Nephews in the manner we suggested.
SIR PETER. A Precious Few they are simply!
ROWLEY. Yes and Sir Oliver--is convinced that your wisdom was right
SIR OLIVER. Yes I find Joseph is Indeed the Man after all.
ROWLEY. Aye as Sir Peter says, He's a man of Sentiment.
SIR OLIVER. And functions up to the Sentiments he professes.
ROWLEY. It certainly is Edification to listen to him discuss.
SIR OLIVER. Oh, He's a model for the teenagers of the age!
But how's this, Sir Peter? you do not Join us in your Friend
Joseph's Praise as I expected.
SIR PETER. Sir Oliver, we reside in a damned wicked world,
and the fewer we reward the better. (V:ii)
The intended binaries of good/wicked that are now broken which is not easily appropriate to call one nearly as good and the other as bad talks about how the transcendental signified of "sentiment" was decenterd by Sheridan at that time. As Jacque Derrida suggested the binaries can be important in a connection of "difference" that is we know red is red because it is different from blue. Within this drama, Sheridan pictures that the difference between good and wicked, honest and dishonest, moral and immoral has turned into a deceptive play of appearances. For eighteenth century people, a person was good, because he did not gamble, drink, and did not court women. At the same time a person is evil since he did not act morally and in line with the identified sentiments. Sheridan would like to improve the attitude of the audience; to claim that the criterion of "difference" for judging between good and wicked is not right.
Joseph is depicted as the epitome of the society's hypocrisy, he's known by his friends who work in the same way
LADY SNEERWELL. O Lud you are going to be moral, and forget
that you are among Friends.
SURFACE. Egad, that's true--I'll keep that sentiment till I see
It seems that being hypocritical is the style of the period in case one will not follow this manner he is ruined as Charles would be ruined before his uncle's entrance. The set of individuals whose major job is to discuss behind people and "ruin individuals" create this institution for scandal whose leader as Sir Peter declares is Lady Sneerwell. Sir Peter's astonishment means how dangerous the result of their set up could be:
SIR PETER. Mercy on me--here is the whole set!
a character's inactive at every word, I suppose. (II:ii)
Mrs. Candour, Benjamin Backbite and Crabtree assist her in this joyful business; they have got time to add everybody in their malevolent conversations; as Mrs. Candour says "the world/is so censorious no personality escapes. "
They know that Charles is not any man of pretending, and for that reason they call him a unpleasant scandal in comparison to his brother. As Derrida studies the binaries, he remarks that every binary opposition is a hierarchy, because always "one term in the match is privileged or considered more advanced than the other" (Tyson 254). Hence, if one finds the binary oppositions in a culture and at the same time recognizes the privileged one in the couple, one can discover something about the ideology of this culture. In cases like this in the binary of good/bad, the privileged is good, but the condition is the fact that, "good" and "evil" are arbitrary principles. What the eighteenth century upper-class culture understood as "good" were simply a set of sentiments which were practiced through looks. And what they recognized as evil, were again a couple of behaviors which were released universally as wicked by the ideological apparatuses.
What Sheridan does in his play, is to task the mind of the audience to rethink about the composition of these pre-established binaries and their ideological hierarchies covered behind them also to make an effort to deconstruct these structures atlanta divorce attorneys individual's comprehension. Drinking and flirting women and borrowing money from usurers cannot be a proper criterion for judging people as "evil" and "immoral" while good sticking with the popular norms of action of the time and the moral sentiments can't be a correct measure for estimating a character as "good". He also compares the situation of the so-called good person with an actor who takes on games and functions out tasks by changing looks and therefore is a deceiver and a pretender. This is the great deconstruction of public ideologies properly done by Repair comedies like the College for Scandal.