The Social Mode of Restoration Comedy

By Kathleen M. Lynch | Go to book overview

THE SOCIAL MODE OF RESTORATION COMEDY

CHAPTER I
A SURVEY OF RESTORATION COMEDY

T WO outstanding points of view have been advanced by literary critics regarding the sources of Restoration comedy of manners. One opinion has been that the work of the Restoration comic dramatists is largely to be accounted for as an English adaptation of Molière's comedy, enforcing his dramatic method and, to a considerable extent, exhibiting his comic temper.1 A number of prominent critics, on the other hand, have insisted just as strongly that, although the Restoration dramatists often made generous use of material derived from Molière's drama, their work differs markedly from his in purpose and in spirit,2 and should be judged simply as "an independent growth springing spontaneously from the impulse of English Restoration Society to view itself in reflexion upon the stage."3 Both groups are agreed that the new comedy marks "rather a revolution than a development"4 in English comedy and that its indebtedness to earlier English comedy is of very slight importance.

____________________
1
Cf. especially Sir Edmund Gosse, Seventeenth Century Studies ( 1897 edition), "Sir George Etheredge", pp. 259-298, and D. H. Miles, The Influence of Molière on Restoration Comedy.
2
Cf. especially Sir A. W. Ward, A History of English Dramatic Literature to the Death of Queen Anne, III, pp. 318-320; F. E. Schelling, "The Restoration Drama," in Cambridge History of English Literature, VIII, pp. 137-139; and John Palmer, The Comedy of Manners, pp. 64-66.
3
Palmer, The Comedy of Manners, p. 66.
4
Ibid., p. 65.

-1-

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