The Gentleman Dancing-Master Essay - Critical Essays

William Wycherley


(Critical Survey of Literature, Revised Edition)

This play, the second produced by Wycherley and the most derivative of the four, takes its title and its general theme from a play by Calderon. The style of the play, too, is somewhat in the manner of Moliere and through him goes back to the commedia dell’ arte, with its brisk criticism of affectation and its elaboration of the gulled father, the saucy maid, the languorous lover, and other farcical types. Wycherley possessed sufficient talent, however, to convert his borrowed materials into a play much copied in later years, particularly by Sheridan, and one still appealing to a modern audience or reader.