Comedy of Manners Criticism: Overviews - Essay

Bonamy Dobrée (essay date 1924)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Dobrée, Bonamy. “The Framework” and “The Comedy of Manners.” In Restoration Comedy: 1660-1720, pp. 17-30;31-8. 1924. Reprint. London: Oxford University Press, 1958.

[In the following excerpts from a work originally published in 1924, Dobrée provides background on Restoration society and describes differences between the comedy of manners and the earlier comedy of humours.]

THE FRAMEWORK

Let us first examine briefly the soil in which this comedy grew.

The most hasty student of history regards the quarter-century succeeding the Restoration as one of unbridled licence, in which everybody from the king downwards...

(The entire section is 6509 words.)

David L. Hirst (essay date 1979)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hirst, David L. “The Seventeenth Century.” In Comedy of Manners, pp. 6-35. London: Methuen & Co Ltd, 1979.

[In the following essay, Hirst delineates the themes that distinguish the comedy of manners as a distinct genre and examines some of the works of the leading playwrights of the seventeenth century.]

I will believe, there are now in the world
Good-natured friends, who are not prostitutes,
And handsome women worthy to be friends:
Yet, for my sake, let no one e'er confide
In tears, or oaths, in love, or friend untried.

(William Wycherley: The Plain Dealer, 1676)

The terms Restoration comedy and comedy of manners...

(The entire section is 9952 words.)