Last Updated September 5, 2023.
The Conscious Lovers is a comedy written by Irish playwright Richard Steele and first performed in 1722 at the Theatre Royal in London, England. It is considered a core example of sentimental comedy, which is a Restoration-era form of drama that focuses on everyday life under the premise that man is inherently good but is prone to mistakes and being led into confusion.
Steele's work strays away from the "lewdness" of other comedies performed during this time period; he had a distinct focus on incorporating social morality and values into humor. The characters in The Conscious Lovers reflect this: they are upper class and, at times, struggle to navigate the social rules governing their place in society, particularly with respect to marriage and love. After a humorous series of events in which a long-lost daughter is discovered and unhappy engagements are broken off, the characters's problems are ultimately resolved, and they gain an understanding of their prejudices and moral shortcomings.
The character list is as follows:
Sir John Bevil: a wealthy man and father to Bevil Jr.
Bevil Jr: Sir John's son; engaged to marry Lucinda Sealand despite being in love with Indiana, a poor girl he met in France
Mr. Sealand: another wealthy man. Sealand is Lucinda's father and strongly in favor of her marriage to Bevil Jr. He is secretly Indiana's father and Isabella's brother (although he does not realize it until Scene III).
Mr. Myrtle: friend of Bevil Jr. and in love with Lucinda.
Mr. Cimberton: a rich dandy with poor manners; favored by Mrs. Sealand for her daughter Lucinda because of his wealth.
Tom: servant to Bevil Jr.; helps prevent the engagement between Cimberton and Lucinda.
Sir Geoffrey: Mr. Cimberton's uncle; must give his consent for Cimberton to marry.
Humphrey: Sir John's servant.
Mrs. Sealand: Mr. Sealand's second wife and Lucinda's mother; she wants Lucinda to marry Mr. Cimberton, another wealthy man in their social circle.
Lucinda Sealand: engaged to Bevil Jr. but in love with Mr. Mrytle, Bevil Jr.'s friend.
Isabella: Mr. Sealand's sister and aunt to Indiana and Lucinda; has been a mother-figure to Indiana.
Indiana: raised by Isabella as a poor orphan, she is actually Mr. Sealand's daughter from his first wife; in love with Bevil Jr.
Phillis: Lucinda's maid; in love with Tom.