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What is the significance of the auction scene in the play "School for Scandal" by R. B....

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cutiechandrika | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted May 22, 2009 at 11:24 PM via web

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What is the significance of the auction scene in the play "School for Scandal" by R. B. Sheridan?

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lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted May 22, 2009 at 11:35 PM (Answer #1)

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Sir Oliver has been away in the East Indies for the past 16 years,consequently his two nephews Joseph and Charles will not be able to recognize him. As soon as Sir Oliver arrives in London he decides to test their character. In Act II sc 3 Sir Oliver clearly establishes the standard by which he intends to judge his nephews:"if Charles has done nothing false or mean, I shall compound for his extravagance."

In order to do this, he has to play the role of 1. Mr.Premium a broker whom Charles has never  seen before  2. a poor relation Mr.Stanley whom both Joseph and Charles have not seen before.

  Sir Oliver arrives at Charles' house in the guise of Mr.Premium to test his character. Charles passes the test for the following reasons:

1. Sir Oliver is happy that Charles inspite of his financial difficulties has bought the ancestral house from Joseph who had no qualms in selling it.

2. He  is delighted that Charles who readily disposes of all the family paintings refuses to sell  his portrait:

"No, hang it! I'll not part with poor Noll. The old fellow
has been very good to me, and, egad, I'll keep his picture while I've
a room to put it in." [Act IV sc.1]

When Sir Oliver [Mr.Premium]hears this he immediately remarks, aside "I forgive him everything."

3.Sir Oliver is touched that Charles in spite of his financial difficulties has sent some of the money he raised by auctioning the family paintings to Mr. Stanley leading him to remark: "Well, well, I'll pay his debts, and his benevelonce too." Act IV Sc.2.

In Act V 'Mr.Stanley' meets Joseph to test Joseph's character. Joseph refuses to help Sir Oliver who  is now convinced that Joseph is an ungrateful 'dissembler.'

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mikejak | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 4, 2012 at 12:01 PM (Answer #2)

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in this scene Sir Oliver is to the test his nephew and gage who worthy of the name surface. he disguises as Mr Premuin because he is aware that Charles will not recognise him 

this scenee helps us understand the idea of stead fast intergrity as it is portrayed in the play. inspite of the fact that Charles is judged by the society and a practicing extravangant Sir Oliver Surface discover that there lies some truth and good ness in him he sincere in his ways as a spender he assure Mr Premuin that he has no security for the loan he is about to acquire. that is why he opts to sell the family portriats

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