To what extent was the sentimental comedy a reaction to the critical temper of the 18th century?Illustrate with examples.

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The 18th century witnessed the beginnings of the sentimental comedy. This theatrical genre is the predecessor of the comedy of manners genre. In this latter, the main characters are usually typical middle class men and women going through a genuine situation (often, a romance). This romance is treated with the casual naturalist approach of realism, without the use of exaggerated vocabulary, and with a realistic ending.

This could be considered a reaction to the critical temper of the 18th century in that it does not treat the topics of Restoration theater. Restoration (1660-1710)theater opened in England after Crowmell's Puritain government, as the monarchy was seated in the throne again. However, the Restoration brought with it the expected hedonism of the aristocrats, who portrayed their lives or the lives of other aristocrats in situations that merited the use of scandalous language and sexually-charged themes. In a huge contrast, sentimental comedies dealt with real human emotion amongst the regular kinfolk of the land: It was art that was not overdressed, over-ranked, nor overdone.

Therefore, it is safe to conclude that Sentimental Comedy broke with the parameters of restoration theater , creating its very own and unique style that featured people, and situations, as they really are.