Some of the important features of the 'Comedy of Manners' are as follows:
1. The action always takes place in London.
2. There is always a contrast between the rural and the urban.For example in Congreve's "The Way of the World" Squire Witwoud is from the county of Shropshire and his arrival in London results in a lot of amusement and humour.
3. The presence of atleast one pair of very intelligent young lovers.
4. Witty dialogue is perhaps the most important feature of the Comedy of Manners.
5. All the other aspects of the play are usually sacrificed for the sake of contriving a situation which would give rise to 'witty' dialogue.
6. The appeal of the Comedy of Manners is to the intelligence of the audience/reader and not to the emotions.
7. The 'witty' dialogue was usually obscene, for the theatres had just reopened after the Restoration.
8.The women in these plays were very emancipated and bold and independent, unlike the heroines of the Sentimental dramas.
9.The institution of marriage was always held to ridicule. Both husbands and wives openly expressed their dissatisfaction of their spouses.
10. These plays were mainly intended for the elegant and sophisticated audiences of London city. Hence the characters were almost always from the upper class society of London.
11. These plays portrayed the lifestyle of the idle rich of London city very realistically.
12. The plays were mildly satirical-the playwright could not afford to hurt his upper class audience.
The main elements of the Comedy of Manners are the following :
- The action takes place in London
- Characters are often from the upper class. They are beautiful and refined.
- The plot is often about an illicit love affair or some other scandal
- The play features at least one pair of very intelligent young lovers
- The woman in these plays are emancipated , bold and emancipated , unlike the heroines of sentimental dramas.
- Witty dialogue is one important feature of the comedy of manners.the play appeals to the intelligence of the audience rather than their emotions. The plays are mildly satirical. The ildleness , manners and affectations of the upper class are criticized in a gentle , witty way.
- The institution of marriage is always held to ridicule.Both husbands and wives openly express their dissatisfaction of their spouses.
- These plays also portray the idle lifestyle of the rich society with much realism.