Lecture 10 Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1st hour), The School for

Lecture 10 Richard Brinsley
Sheridan (1st hour), The
School for Scandal,
Robert Burns (2nd hour)
18th Century English Drama:
The English drama of the 18th century does not reach the same
high level as its novel. One of the main reasons is that the Licensing
Act of 1737 which drove Fielding out of the theatre restricted the
freedom of expression by dramatists. The stage, losing its power as
a serious criticism of social life, declined at the same time in its
splendour and magnificence as a lofty entertainment, The greatest
problem in 18th century English drama is not that of a playwright,
but that of a player, David Garrick (1717-1779 ), who created a
school of acting that was “ natural” as compared to the more
formalized gestures and poses of the past. Garrick was a great
popularizer of Shakespeare and in 1769 started the Shakespeare
Jubilee at Stratford-on-Avon, an event that established Shakespeare
as the national bard of England and Stratford as a permanent tourist
attraction.The English drama experienced a brief flowering in the
second half of the 18th century for the comedies of Sheridan and
• Life and career
• Born: 30-Oct-1751
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: 7-Jul-1816
Location of death: London, England
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Westminster Abbey,
London, England
• Occupation: Playwright, Politician
• Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816), the most
important English playwright of the 18th century, was
born in Dublin. His father was an actor and his mother a
novelist: Richard went to study at Harrow in 1762. His
mother died when he was 15. In a few years his father
brought the family to England settled in Bath. The young
man tried Iris hand at literature and wrote some minor
works in collaboration with a friend. In 1772 Sheridan fell
in love and eloped with Elizabeth Ann Linley, a beautiful
singer, after fighting two duels with his rival. After
marriage, the Sheridans lived happily in a country
cottage. In 1775, Sheridan’s first comedy “The Rivals"
was produced at Covent Garden Theatre in London.
After it, he wrote several other plays, and “The School
for Scandal” (1777) is his masterpiece. In 1776 he
became the manager of Drury Lane Theatre.
• His first comedy, The Rivals, was produced at Covent
Garden on the 17th January 1775. It is said to have been
not so favorably received on its first night, owing to its
length and to the bad playing of the part of Sir Lucius
O'Trigger. But the defects were remedied before the
second performance, which was deferred to the 28th of
the month, and the piece at once took that place on the
stage which it has never lost. His second piece, St.
Patrick's Day, or the Scheming Lieutenant, a lively farce,
was written for the benefit performance (2nd of May
1775) of Lawrence Clinch, who had succeeded as Sir
Lucius. In November 1775, with the assistance of his
father-in-law, he produced the comic opera of The
Duenna, which was played 75 times at Covent Garden
during that season.
• School for Scandal opened at the Drury Lane
Theatre in London, England, in May of 1777. It
was an enormous success. Reviews heralded
the play as a "real comedy'' that would supplant
the sentimental dramas that had filled the stage
in the previous years. While wildly popular in the
eighteenth century, the play has not been as
successful with contemporary audiences.
• One significant problem is the anti-Semitism that
runs throughout the play.
• “The School for Scandal":
“The School for Scandal” has been called a
great comedy of manners. It gives a brilliant
portrayal and a biting satire of English high
society. In the play, the author contrasts two
brothers, Charles Surface and Joseph Surface.
Charles seems a reckless
• prodigal from all outward appearances but he is
frank honest and good-hearted. Joseph seems
to be pious, always declaring noble feelings
uttering moral speeches and appearing to be a
man of honour. But behind his mask he is a
hypocrite, a backbiter and a seducer of his
friend’s wife.
• Charles is in love with Maria. Sir Peter Teazle’s ward, and his
affection is returned. Meanwhile, Sir Peter, an elderly gentleman.
has married a very young wife. Lady Teazle, coming from 1.he
countryside, becomes attracted by the fashionable life in London
and leis her in for love affairs beyond the bounds of marriage. So
they are at odds with each other. Moreover, the ladies and
gentlemen who gather at Lady Sneerwell’s, under her
encouragement, put about scandalous stories in high society. These
scandal-mongers, who "strike a character dead at every word,"
make life troublesome for all people. Now Lady Sneerwell, in love
with Charles, instigates Joseph to pursue Maria, and Joseph, while
making advances to Maria, secretly tries to seduce Lady Teazle. Sir
Peter, owing to the fabrications of Lady Sneerwell and Joseph
Surface, believes Charles to be the person flirting with his young
wife. One day, Lady Teazle foolishly pays Joseph a visit in his own
room. He is on the point of corrupting her when Sir Peter arrives
unexpectedly. Lady Teazle is forced to hide behind a screen. Then
quite unexpectedly, Charles turns up and Sir Peter in turn has to
take cover. The climax comes when Charles knocks over the screen
and reveal Lady TeazIe.
• Thus Sir Peter finds out that it is not Charles but Joseph
who has been carrying on an intrigue with his wife. Then
it is learned that Sir Oliver Surface, the uncle of Charles
and Joseph, has returned to England from the East. Sir
Oliver is determined to ascertain for himself the truth
about his two nephews. He visits Charles in the guise of
a usurer. Charles sells all the family portraits to him but
refuses to part with him-- that of his uncle’s. Then Sir
Oliver appears before Joseph in the character of a poor
relative asking for help, which Joseph refuses to give on
the pretext that the “poverty” is brought on by the
stinginess of his uncle. This completes the exposure of
Joseph. Charles marries Maria. and Sir Peter is
reconciled to Lady Teazle. This play. repudiating the high
society for its vast, greed and hypocrisy, has been
regarded as the best English comedy since
• Robert Burns (1759-1796)
• 1. Life and career
• Blake, deeply romantic as he is by nature, virtually stands by himself,
apart from any movement or group, and the same is equally true of
the somewhat earlier lyrist in whom eighteenth century poetry
culminates, namely Robert Burns. Burns, the oldest of the seven
children of two sturdy Scotch peasants of the best type, was born in
1759 in Ayrshire, just beyond the northwest border of England. In
spite of extreme poverty, the father joined with some of his
neighbors in securing the services of a teacher for their children, and
the household possessed a few good books, including Shakespeare
and Pope, whose influence on the future poet was great. His mother
had familiarized him from the beginning with the songs and ballads
of which the country was full, and though he is said at first to have
had so little ear for music that he could scarcely distinguish one tune
from another, he soon began to compose songs (words) of his own
as he followed the plough.
• At the age of twenty-seven, abandoning the hope which
he had already begun to cherish of becoming the
national poet of Scotland, he had determined in despair
to emigrate to Jamaica to become an overseer on a
plantation. (That this chief poet of democracy, the author
of 'A Man's a Man for a' That,' could have planned to
become a slave-driver suggests how closely the most
genuine human sympathies are limited by habit and
circumstances.) To secure the money for his voyage
Burns had published his poems in a little volume. This
won instantaneous and universal popularity, and Burns,
turning back at the last moment, responded to the
suggestion of some of the great people of Edinburgh that
he should come to that city and see what could be done
for him.
• Burns' place among poets is perfectly clear. It is chiefly that of a
song-writer, perhaps the greatest songwriter of the world. At work in
the fields or in his garret or kitchen after the long day's work was
done, he composed songs because he could not help it, because his
emotion was irresistibly stirred by the beauty and life of the birds and
flowers, the snatch of a melody which kept running through his mind,
or the memory of the girl with whom he had last talked. And his
feelings expressed themselves with spontaneous simplicity,
genuineness, and ease. He is a thoroughly romantic poet, though
wholly by the grace of nature, not at all from any conscious
intention--he wrote as the inspiration moved him, not in accordance
with any theory of art. The range of his subjects and emotions is
nearly or quite complete--love; comradeship; married affection, as in
'John Anderson, My Jo'; reflective sentiment; feeling for nature;
sympathy with animals; vigorous patriotism, as in 'Scots Wha Hae'
(and Burns did much to revive the feeling of Scots for Scotland);
deep tragedy and pathos; instinctive happiness; delightful humor;
and the others.
• My Heart's in the Highlands
• My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.
• Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North,
The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.
Farewell to the mountains high covered with snow!
Farewell to the straths and green valleys below!
Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods!
Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods!
• My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.
• A Red, Red Rose
• O, my luve’s like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June;
Oh my luve’s like the melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.
• Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.
• And fare thee weel, my only luve!
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile!
• Auld Lang Syne
• Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne ?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
• And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup !
And surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
• We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin’ auld lang syne.
• We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin’ auld lang syne.
• And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
And gives a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right guid-willie-waught,
for auld lang syne.