Can you analyse the theme of gossip in "School for Scandal"?l.
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Lady Sneerwell's house in Sheridan's comedy The School for Scandal is the gossip/scandal academy where frequenters like Joseph Surface, Lady Teazle, Sir Benjamin Backbite, Crabtree, Mrs.Candour & many more visit as the learners go to the school. Sheridan looks upon the business of slandering as an institution, Lady Sneerwell--a middle-aged widow--running the institution with her employee, Snake, taking care of the study materials like the columns in the papers/journals to be circulated with an academic keenness. Lady Sneerwell has entered a compact with the elder Surface brother, Joseph, who pretends to be an amiable 'man of sentiment'. Joseph's real intention is to destroy the already-tattered reputation of his younger brother, Charles, who happens to be a rake & a spendthrift. Charles & Maria love each other and want to get married; but Joseph wants Maria for his wife because she is going to inherit huge property. Lady Sneerwell is interested in separating Charles & Maria because she herself is keen to marry Charles. She has instituted the scandal academy for another motive:to avenge the fact that once she was a victim of the same hydra-headed monster. Lady Teazle, a country girl desperately running after the elite fashionableness of the city, is a regular visitor of the gossip circle to the despair and anguish of her old husband Sir Peter. Sir Benjamin Backbite is a fop with his gift of versification which his uncle, Crabtree, constantly goes on harping to draw the admiration of the gossips/slanderers. Mrs. Candour claims herself being all candid and she moves from one piece of scandal to another for no foul intention, but only because of her natural & habitual frankness.
Sheridan's play, especially its opening scene, thus most sarcastically depicts the scene of scandal-mongering.
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