What are the main areas of conflict in the first three acts of the play School for Scandal by Richard Brinsley Sheridan?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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"School for Scandal" by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, although written later than the classic "Restoration" comedies, is still quite similar in that it is a comedy of manners. Its main characters are members of the upper classes, focused on social position and making advantageous marriages, getting money by inheritance and marriage rather than working for it.

The major conflicts in the play have to do with romance and with money, and the way they are related to one another. 

Lady Sneerwell, a wealthy widow, aided and abetted by Snake, is infatuated with Charles Surface. Charles, alas, loves and wishes to marry Maria, a wealthy heiress. Joseph Surface, the older brother of Charles, also wishes to marry Maria, although he is as much motivated by her money as by attraction to her. Joseph and Lady Sneerwell are thus allied in a conflict to break up the relationship between Charles and Maria. Charles is also struggling with his debts and stealing from his family to support his extravagant habits.

Sir Peter Teazle argues with his wife about her extravagance. Maria is uncomfortable with the way people indulge in nasty gossip.  Sir Oliver, appearing in disguise, discovers and is disgusted by the lazy and spendthrift nature of his relatives.

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