In act III of Nöel Coward’s Private Lives, Amanda Prynne tells her ex-husband, Elyot Chase, that she was “brought up to believe that it’s beyond the pale for a man to strike a woman.”
“A very poor tradition”, he replies. “Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs.”
The marriage between these two character was contentious, and their arguments often became physical. Five years after their divorce, newly reconciled (somewhat), Amanda and Elyot cannot help but bicker every time they speak. At the end of act II, they are interrupted by Victor and Sybil—their new spouses—in the midst of a violent quarrel. When act III begins the next morning, Amanda behaves “as though nothing had happened,” which frustrates Sybil and Elyot. Elyot, characteristically...
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