How do women characters contribute to the social problems in the play School for Scandal?

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In Richard Brinsley Sheridan's playSchool for Scandal , female characters both generate false stories and rumors about others and play an active role in circulating those stories. This leads to the social problems of deceit, malice, conflict, anger, disrespect, and distrust. While Sheridan shows how both women and...

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In Richard Brinsley Sheridan's play School for Scandal, female characters both generate false stories and rumors about others and play an active role in circulating those stories. This leads to the social problems of deceit, malice, conflict, anger, disrespect, and distrust. While Sheridan shows how both women and men alike use "tale-making" and "tale-bearing" to shore up their social prestige and heighten their sense of power, the reason why female characters are especially associated with ethically injurious tale-bearing and tale-making is because of the play's protagonist, the aptly named Lady Sneerwell. Interestingly, Sheridan suggests a moral equivalence between those who invent stories about others and those who circulate those same stories. In the words of the character Mrs. Candour, "tale-bearers are as bad as the tale-makers." The moral logic of the play singles out gossip as being at the root of social distrust and the pervasive lack of virtue, and Lady Sneerwell is at the heart of the gossip system.

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