The Soldier's Fortune Essay - Critical Essays

Thomas Otway


(Critical Survey of Literature, Revised Edition)

Restoration comedy, clearly and openly written to entertain and to create laughter, was intended chiefly for the corrupt courtiers of the time who patronized the London stage. As a result the comedy was witty, cynical, often crude, and by most standards immoral. Thomas Otway’s THE SOLDIER’S FORTUNE is more or less a typical example. While some of the comic effect is that of the comedy of manners, much of the comedy depends on grossness, sex, and even the absurd for its humor. The characters are stock figures found again and again in Restoration drama: the elderly cuckold, the young wife, the disbanded officer, the loyal and shrewd servant, the male bawd, the young female who despises both men and marriage for a time. It should be noted, however, that the vague military background of Beaugard and Courtine is usually credited to Thomas Otway’s own military service on the Continent during the 1670’s.