Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 346
Themes of The Conscious Lovers by Richard Steele include family loyalty, love, and misunderstandings.
Family loyalty is a major theme in the play. Bevil isn't willing to marry Indiana because his father doesn't agree with the marriage. Sir John, his father, is important to him even though his decree is keeping Bevil from marrying the young woman he loves. In the same token, Indiana is loyal to her father, Mr. Sealand. She doesn't want to marry Bevil or Cimberton but is willing to be engaged to one and consider the other because her father wishes her to. Family loyalty is also seen in the way Mr. Sealand immediately accepts Indiana as his daughter and decides to split the estate between her and Lucinda when he realizes who she is.
Love is another important theme in the play. It drives all the action. Bevil loves Indiana which is why he's willing to support her since her family is gone. Even though he's getting nothing in return except suspicion, he keeps taking care of her. He also recognizes Lucinda and Myrtle's love for each other and helps them be together. In the end, love is also displayed when Cimberton drops his suit because Lucinda loses half of her estate. Myrtle, on the other hand, is still happy to marry the woman he loves. Lucinda even declares that she loves him more because he still wants to be with her even though she brings him less.
Misunderstandings are another theme. There is a misunderstanding for everyone about Bevil's intentions with Indiana. Mr. Sealand and Indiana's aunt both think that he has lascivious intentions because he's paying her bills. He has to prove over and over that he cares for her even while he can't declare his love because of Sir John's disapproval. Bevil and Myrtle almost duel at one point because Myrtle isn't sure that Bevil isn't really trying to marry Lucinda. Luckily, by keeping a cool head and meeting suspicion with proof and consistency, Bevil is able to overcome the misunderstandings and create a happier situation for everyone.
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