Restoration Drama & Prose

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Transcript Restoration Drama & Prose

When Charles II became King in 1660, it marked the
beginning of the Restoration. From 1642 onward for
eighteen years, the theaters of England remained
nominally closed. No actor or spectator was safe,
especially during the early days of the Puritan rule. Least
of all was there any inspiration for dramatists.
The tragic dramas of this period were made up of heroic
plays and written in heroic couplet– a form of metre
perfected by John Dryden.
In 1660 the Stuart dynasty was restored to the throne of
England. Charles II, the king, had been in France
during the greater part of the Protectorate, together
with many of the royalist party, all of whom were
familiar with Paris and its fashions. Thus it was
natural, upon the return of the court, that French
influence should be felt, particularly in the theater.
Appearance of women on the English stage
Disappearance of national types (French and Spanish
stories, plots and characters were re-introduced in
English theater)
Persistence of the Elizabethan plays (From the time of
the Restoration actors and managers, also dramatists,
were good royalists; and new pieces, or refurbished old
ones, were likely to acquire a political slant. The Puritans
were satirized, the monarch and his wishes were
flattered, and the royal order thoroughly supported by
the people of the stage.)
Parody of heroic drama
Heroic plays written in heroic couplets and comedies in
blank verse
John Dryden (1631--1700)
was an English poet, literary
made Poet Laureate in
1668. He is seen as
dominating the literary life
of Restoration England to
such a point that the period
came to be known in literary
circles as the Age of Dryden.
The Couquest of Granada (1670)
Aurengzebe (1676) deals with the struggle for
empire in India his last rhymed play containing
finest speeches
He wrote comedy, in blank verse
1. Marriage-a-la-Mode (1672) is his first comedy.
2. All for Love (or The World Well Lost, 1678) based
on Shakespeare’s ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ is written
in blank verse.
Thomas Otway’s ‘Don Carlos’(rhymed verse),
‘The Orphan’ & ‘Venice Preserved’ both in blank
verse are his famous plays.
In ‘Venice Preserved’, a young nobleman, Jaffier,
marries the daughter of a noble Piruli and asks
him for money, but is insulted. He joins a plot
against the state of Venice, but later kills himself
after knowing that his wife went mad and died.
This new kind of drama is hard and bright, witty and
heartless. Sir George Etherege’s ‘The Man of Mode’
gives the picture immoral manners of the society at
that time.
William Wycherley is a satirical dramatist best known
for his ‘The Country Wife’, and ‘The Plain Dealer’.
William Congreve was a better dramatist than the
above two. His ‘The Old Bachelor’, ‘The Double
Dealer’, and ‘Love for Love’ depict amusing and
foolish characters in their clever and interesting
speeches. His master piece ‘The Way of the World’ is
finer than other play of the time.
Oliver Goldsmith’s ‘She Stoops to Conquer’ is a
play in which a private house is mistaken for a
Richard Sheridan ‘s ‘ The Rivals’ presents Mrs.
Malaprop who mixes up long words and talks a
lot of funny nonsense. His ‘The School for
Scandal’ entertained a large audience in which
three characters “strike a character dead at every
word”. His third play ‘The Critic’ satirizes drama
and literary criticism.