Comment on Sheridan's art of characterization in The Rivals.

Sheridan's art of characterization in The Rivals consists largely of giving characters names that reflect their personalities. For instance, Sir Anthony Absolute is someone who approaches life purely on his terms. It's his way or the highway, so to speak. Then we have Squire Bob Acres, the country bumpkin whose whole life revolves around his land.

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There's nothing remotely subtle or sophisticated about Sheridan's art of characterization in The Rivals. And that's purely intentional on the playwright's part. He's not interested in providing deep psychological insights into his various characters; he just wants to make the audience laugh, and to that end, he attaches appropriately ridiculous names to his larger-than-life creations.

Sheridan's characters are generally quite shallow, so it's entirely appropriate that they're given names that reveal their limited personalities. Once we know someone's name in this play, we're immediately left in no doubt as to what kind of person they are.

In the case of Sir Anthony Absolute, we can gather straight away that we're dealing with someone stern and unbending, a man who insists on living life his way. With Squire Bob Acres, we have someone whose whole life revolves around his land, a man who's presented by Sheridan as a bit of a country bumpkin. And in Sir Lucius O'Trigger, we're introduced to a...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 939 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on October 20, 2020