The Beaux' Stratagem

by George Farquhar

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 194

Litchfield Inn

Litchfield Inn. Way station for travelers coming and going from London to the country that is utterly corrupt. At the inn highwaymen plot to commit crimes with the complicity of the crooked innkeeper, who even tries to corrupt his daughter for money. At the inn beaux from London plot stratagems. It is the forces from the inn that invade Lady Bountiful’s house in an attempt to destroy it.

Lady Bountiful’s house

Lady Bountiful’s house. In contrast to the world of the inn, Lady Bountiful’s house represents the simple virtues and charity of the best of the country. At Lady Bountiful’s house benevolence and concern for others dominate. Here the sick are healed and the corrupt are converted to virtue. This world is invaded by forces from the corrupt town by means of the highwaymen from the inn and by means of the beaux from the city. The robbers attempt to steal material goods while the beaux attempt to steal female virtue as well as money from Dorinda’s fortune. These corrupt forces eventually are defeated or neutralized while the country values of Lady Bountiful dominate at last.


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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 248

Berman, Ronald. “The Comedy of Reason.” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 7 (Summer, 1965): 161-168. A brief discussion of The Beaux’ Stratagem that sees the play as having a logic that is characteristic of Restoration comedy.

Burns, Edward. Restoration Comedy: Crises of Desire and Identity. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987. Burns’s central premise is that Restoration comedy was shaped by the pastoral mode so popular in sixteenth and seventeenth century literature. His treatment of individual plays and playwrights includes an interesting discussion of The Beaux’ Stratagem.

Farquhar, George. The Beaux’ Stratagem. Edited by Charles N. Fifer. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1977. The handiest modern edition of Farquhar’s play. Fifer’s introduction is concise and informative about the play’s history and the comic traditions it embodies.

Milhous, Judith, and Robert D. Hume. Producible Interpretation: Eight English Plays, 1675-1707. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1985. Two of the leading scholars in the field of Restoration and eighteenth century drama outline the production history of The Beaux’ Stratagem and discuss interpretive problems. Given the scarcity of scholarship on Farquhar’s most famous play, this is probably the best place to begin study of The Beaux’ Stratagem.

Rothstein, Eric. George Farquhar. New York: Twayne, 1967. Farquhar has never attracted a great deal of critical attention. At the time of its publication, this was the best study of Farquhar and his work. Includes a short biographical sketch, followed by a solid discussion of the works, including a chapter on The Beaux’ Stratagem.

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Critical Essays