Study Guide

School for Scandal

by Richard Brinsley Sheridan

School for Scandal Analysis

Places Discussed (Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Lady Sneerwell’s dressing room

Lady Sneerwell’s dressing room. Despite the fact that the stage direction indicates that the first scene of the play takes place at Lady Sneerwell’s dressing table, the room in which the scene takes place is a large room used by fashionable ladies for waiting on their most confidential guests. Thus Lady Sneerwell uses her dressing room to converse with Snake in much the same way the men of the house would use the library.

Drawing room

Drawing room. Other scenes in Lady Sneerwell’s house are set in the typical drawing room of a fashionable house. For example, in act 2, scene 2, Sheridan presents the famous school for scandal in attendance in the drawing room. Drawing rooms were used purely for public purposes. It was here that a hostess would receive guests or where guests would gather before and after dinner. Usually they were among the larger rooms of the house and certainly the room in Lady Sneerwell’s house is big enough to handle her rather large group of scandalmongers.

Library

Library. Joseph Surface’s library, in which the play’s most famous scene is set. Like women’s dressing rooms, libraries were places where men met their friends for personal visits. Usually, however, it was where they met their male friends, so the scene in which Joseph meets intimately with Lady Teazle has a special significance in its being set in the library.

School for Scandal Historical Context

Sheridan's England was a very different one than that of earlier British playwrights. The mid-seventeenth century had brought the German...

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School for Scandal Literary Style

Act
A major division in a drama. In Greek plays, the sections of the drama signified by the appearance of the chorus...

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School for Scandal Compare and Contrast

  • 1777: The Continental Congress votes to accept the services of the Marquis de Lafayette, who will command...

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School for Scandal Topics for Further Study

  • Sheridan is a male writer who writes about marriage and women in School for Scandal. Research the role of women in London society....

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School for Scandal Media Adaptations

School for Scandal was videotaped in 1965. The 100 minute-long black and white film, taped during a stage performance of the play,...

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School for Scandal What Do I Read Next?

  • Sheridan's first play, The Rivals, written in 1775, is also a comedy that uses disguise and romance to probe...

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School for Scandal Bibliography and Further Reading

Sources
Morrow, Laura. "Television, Text, and Teleology in a School for Scandal," in Shakespeare on Film...

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School for Scandal Bibliography (Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Auburn, Mark. Sheridan’s Comedies: Their Contexts and Achievements. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1977. Perhaps the best of the very few full-length studies of Sheridan and his work. First-rate discussion of The School for Scandal.

Danziger, Marlies K. Oliver Goldsmith and Richard Brinsley Sheridan. New York: Frederick Unger, 1978. A good place to begin study of Sheridan and his work. Contains an excellent discussion of The School for Scandal and a useful bibliography.

Loftis, John. Sheridan and the Drama of Georgian England. Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell, 1976. Carefully researched and rewarding study by a leading scholar in the field. Places Sheridan’s work firmly in the context of late eighteenth century theater and dispels many of the myths surrounding The School for Scandal. Highly recommended.

Schiller, Andrew. “The School for Scandal: The Restoration Unrestored.” Publications of the Modern Language Association 71 (September, 1956): 694-704. In this classic article, Schiller attacks the idea that The School for Scandal recaptures the spirit and substance of Restoration comedy. Schiller considers The School for Scandal “a kind of bourgeois morality play.”

Worth, Katharine. Sheridan and Goldsmith. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992. Worth is at her best in this slender but worthwhile book when discussing the plays of Sheridan and Goldsmith in the context of eighteenth century theatrical traditions and practices. Very good chapter on The School for Scandal.