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Restoration Comedy is generally known as the Comedy of Manners or the Manners Comedy. It takes a leaf or two from the likes of Calderon and Moliere and the stereotypical elements from Ben Jonson's Comedy of Humours. It is an upper class urban comedy which generally portrays the highly utilitarian, materialistic and self-centric lives of the carousing high society. Their parties and balls are the ground for great sexual intrigue, flirtation, promiscuity and battle of the sexes.
Manners Comedy basks on the glory of prototypical figures like the fop, the maid, the country wife, the old husband and the young wife and so on. It is not really a satirical comedy and is quite complicit with the false manners, duplicity and hypocrisy and scandal presented on stage. Charles Lamb called it 'artificial' comedy because artificiality is one of its major themes. It is quite often obscene and Jeremy Colier's pamphlet referred to it is 'immoral' and 'profane'. It is built on ironic wit and repartee. It has many intrigue plots in it and is rather episodic in nature.
The amjor exponents of this kind of comedy are George Etherage, William Wycherley and later on William Congreve. Congreve's The Way of the World, Wycherley's The Country Wife and The Plain Dealer and Etherage's The Comical Revenge are hallmark plays of the genre. Later on the sentimental comedy of great nobleness was mounted in ethical reaction to manners comedy where Steele played an important role. Afterwards in Sheridan and Oliver Goldsmith's plays it was revived to a certain extent as a part of the anti-sentimental reaction.
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