Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Lady Sneerwell’s dressing room

Lady Sneerwell’s dressing room. Despite the fact that the stage direction indicates that the first scene of the play takes place at Lady Sneerwell’s dressing table, the room in which the scene takes place is a large room used by fashionable ladies for waiting on their most confidential guests. Thus Lady Sneerwell uses her dressing room to converse with Snake in much the same way the men of the house would use the library.

Drawing room

Drawing room. Other scenes in Lady Sneerwell’s house are set in the typical drawing room of a fashionable house. For example, in act 2, scene 2, Sheridan presents the famous school for scandal in attendance in the drawing room. Drawing rooms were used purely for public purposes. It was here that a hostess would receive guests or where guests would gather before and after dinner. Usually they were among the larger rooms of the house and certainly the room in Lady Sneerwell’s house is big enough to handle her rather large group of scandalmongers.


Library. Joseph Surface’s library, in which the play’s most famous scene is set. Like women’s dressing rooms, libraries were places where men met their friends for personal visits. Usually, however, it was where they met their male friends, so the scene in which Joseph meets intimately with Lady Teazle has a special significance in its being set in the library.

Historical Context

(Drama for Students)

Sheridan's England was a very different one than that of earlier British playwrights. The mid-seventeenth century had brought the German...

(The entire section is 684 words.)

Literary Style

(Drama for Students)

A major division in a drama. In Greek plays, the sections of the drama signified by the appearance of the chorus...

(The entire section is 931 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Drama for Students)

  • 1777: The Continental Congress votes to accept the services of the Marquis de Lafayette, who will command a division during the American Revolutionary War. Lafayette will assist the American Colonies, although he has been forbidden to do so by the king of France Louis XVI. The French have secretly been supporting the American war effort for nearly two years.

    Today: The United States regards England as one of its closest allies and strongest supporters. The two countries frequently support one another in economic, military, and cultural efforts.

  • 1777: The victory at Saratoga is a turning point for the Revolutionary War. For the first tune, the English realize that they can not beat the Americans. Parliament asks George III to back down and end the war. He refuses to consider the option.

    Today: The monarchy of England has little political power and could neither declare war nor sustain one in opposition to parliament.

  • 1777: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is composing music and his Concert No. 9 for Pianoforte and Orchestra in E flat major debuts in Salzburg. Europe remains a center for great music, with London better known for its theatre than its musical composers.

    Today: England has been an important force in...

(The entire section is 277 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Drama for Students)

  • Sheridan is a male writer who writes about marriage and women in School for Scandal. Research the role of women in London society....

(The entire section is 255 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Drama for Students)

School for Scandal was videotaped in 1965. The 100 minute-long black and white film, taped during a stage performance of the play,...

(The entire section is 35 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Drama for Students)

  • Sheridan's first play, The Rivals, written in 1775, is also a comedy that uses disguise and romance to probe...

(The entire section is 192 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Drama for Students)

Morrow, Laura. "Television, Text, and Teleology in a School for Scandal," in Shakespeare on Film...

(The entire section is 521 words.)


(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Auburn, Mark. Sheridan’s Comedies: Their Contexts and Achievements. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1977. Perhaps the best of the very few full-length studies of Sheridan and his work. First-rate discussion of The School for Scandal.

Danziger, Marlies K. Oliver Goldsmith and Richard Brinsley Sheridan. New York: Frederick Unger, 1978. A good place to begin study of Sheridan and his work. Contains an excellent discussion of The School for Scandal and a useful bibliography.

Loftis, John. Sheridan and the Drama of Georgian England. Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell, 1976. Carefully researched and rewarding study by a leading scholar in the field. Places Sheridan’s work firmly in the context of late eighteenth century theater and dispels many of the myths surrounding The School for Scandal. Highly recommended.

Schiller, Andrew. “The School for Scandal: The Restoration Unrestored.” Publications of the Modern Language Association 71 (September, 1956): 694-704. In this classic article, Schiller attacks the idea that The School for Scandal recaptures the spirit and substance of Restoration comedy. Schiller considers The School for Scandal “a kind of bourgeois morality play.”

Worth, Katharine. Sheridan and Goldsmith. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992. Worth is at her best in this slender but worthwhile book when discussing the plays of Sheridan and Goldsmith in the context of eighteenth century theatrical traditions and practices. Very good chapter on The School for Scandal.