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Satire in The School for Scandal

Comparing The College for Scandal and Lord Chesterfield’s letters to his son has supplied an fascinating venture into the society from more than two hundred years ago, representing society and their expectations. Brinsley recognizes the concerns in the society and makes use of satire to exhibit the members of society and their faults. Ridiculing the characters using the satirical modes, Brinsley utilizes his play as an education and using satire delivering a comedic viewpoint to the play. The play has a genre specific title as a comedy of manners with contradictions of character expectations and the actual reality. Lord Chesterfield has contributed to an intriguing comparison, Chesterfield’s letters have been a set of guidelines that allowed a appear inside the expectations of those who held positions in society and how they themselves justified their controversial behavior. The contrast amongst Chesterfield and Brinsley as authors gives viewpoints from a variant of judgments: Brinsley as a satirist with an intent to entertain and humor and Chesterfield delivering a list of strict and effective recommendations to those whom he believed required to know. There is an evident distinction in the two: with the play an instrument to offer wistful reflection on the individual and one more a collection of letters sent to educate the receiver on the expectations of society and how to adapt to societies way of life.

Sheridan has written the play in a style that is an accurate reflection of the lives of the upper class and their society which is basically true. The play is written with an intention to raise queries about the gossip and slander that served as the foundation for the society. With an intent to educate the audience on the potential of gossip and lies, and its capability to cause havoc, Sheridan utilized the characters as examples of falseness and as a reflective tool for the audience to recognize their own faults. Dominating conversation were lies that could ruin the individuals’ character within seconds due to the quick-fire nature of the gossip and its ability to spread. Sheridan adapted the satirical mode of lampooning to his writing to ridicule the characters in a snide, witty and derogatory manner, by lampooning a method of comedy writing that can occur meanwhile permitting the appropriate message to be efficiently delivered. Conversations among Sir Benjamin Backbite and Crabtree ‘Mr. Surface I did not mean to hurt you (…) undone as ever man was’.[1] The two characters are embroiled in a comprehensive contradiction, an intentional use of lampoon by Brinsley’s to mock the characters for their behavior and to highlight their stupidity in the predicament they have involved themselves in. In spite of his earlier declaration that he had no intent to trigger upset to the person Backbite later refers to the man in a spiteful tone as somebody who was ‘undone as ever a man was.’[2]

Sheridan additional satirizes Lady Sneerwell, making use of irony to highlight the follies of herself and the society she revolves about she declares humor in a predicament that is cruel to those who are the subject of the slander. ‘Ha, ha, ha! Tis very difficult for them to leave a subject they have not very run down’.[3] Lady Sneerwell finds comedy in the humiliation of the men and women they have targeted. The characterization of the individual as the ‘subject’, takes away the humanity of the particular person they are basically a subject of entertainment and humiliation. This is a portrait of society by Sheridan to show how folks can turn into warped on opinion, an opinion that has an intent to lead to malice simply to give other folks with entertainment. There are parallels amongst the two, with both Sheridan and Brinsley describing societies influence with great depth and understanding. Nevertheless, Sheridan has satirized society with an intent to educate on its ills whereas Chesterfield begins to write a list to educate on societies standards and how to abide them. ‘Little trifling objects (…) as parts, which conspire to kind that whole (…) exterior of a man of style, they are importance’. [4]

Chesterfield represents himself as a voice of society and its expectation and the language in his function is a representation of this. The language creates an practically imperative tone for the reader to follow such guidelines. There are comparisons to be created among Chesterfield and Lady Sneerwell both of their opinions revolve around their society and societies expectations with Sneerwell expressing the exact same strict requirements on manners as Chesterfield ‘She certainly has talents but her manner is gross’.[5] Both have views that presentation can establish perception of an person and if an individual does not present themselves with full manners they are not worthy and therefore are worthy of humiliation.

Sheridan acknowledges the value of public perception and politeness of the person. The satirical playwright attempts by way of the aspect of comedy rather than to tear down the character but to inspire a modify in the character and the choices they make and in truth the audience’s perception of themselves. The characters that inhabit the play are stuck in a world of manners and the falsities of them. Mrs Candour is satirized for the falsities of her manors and character. Brindley starts with her final name, the good quality of Candour is somebody that beholds purity, integrity and innocence. [six] Mrs Candour serves as a total contradiction to her name, with Sheridan making use of satire to generate a contradiction amongst Mrs Candours expected nature and the contradiction she is. Mrs Candour’s reputation serves as a gossip who can make slander spread at an effective price removing the respectability somebody of her position would have. ‘But, lord, do you consider I would report these factors? No, no: tale-bearers ‘. [7] The ironic nature of Mrs Candour’s actions as somebody who supposedly opposes gossip: however she requires substantial enjoyment in spreading such items.

This is an intentional paradox on Sheridan’s behalf to show the unstable standards of eighteenth-century upper-class folks. Candour has no admittance in her personal behavior even so she tends to make small attempt to stop the slander and its possibility of ruining somebodies character merely stating that ‘people will talk there is a single preventing it’.[eight] Despite the way these girls proclaim to hold no penchant for gossip and uphold utter politeness they are a complete contradiction to this encouraging the gossip to spread. Sheridan requires a moralistic stance with the play standing as encouragement of reflection on manners and false nature. With an implicit endorsement on the politeness of the individual and the lack of in characters such as Ladies Candour and Sneerwell. Sheridan’s potential to borrow from the sentimental comedy tradition that carries on through literature that is evident in his portrayal of such characters. He adapts the mode of humor by making use of satire however he does not constantly rely on the conventional Horation mode of satire utilizing multiple. Horace utilised satire in a way that the voice is amusing and witty, allowing ridicule the silly elements of human nature with an aim to bring the audience or reader to a point of enjoyment at their expense. [9]

Sheridan wrote the play with an initial concern to show the domestic elements of the society rather the regular concentrate on politics which allows the folly of the men whom usually held the respect of these observing them be removed. Adopting a mode of satire that had some certain elements of the Juvenalian satirical way of writing that had: specific attacking speeches upon particular characters and their behavior. The mode of satire attaches to a statement of realism in the point they are creating to the audience with the lack of authenticity. Lord Chesterfield’s letters to his son, demonstrates the significance of manners to the society and how impoliteness can be the downfall of an individual and their reputation. Though, Chesterfield does not use the satirical mode that Sheridan has chosen to adopt he adds a layer to social politeness by which includes the presentation of the person.

Manners are recognized similarly Sheridan as an expression of the individuals status, nonetheless, Chesterfield goes as far to say that ‘frequent and loud laughter is the characteristic of folly and ill manners (…) there is nothing so illiberal, and so ill-bred as audible laughter’.[10] There is a similarity amongst Chesterfield and the characters of The College for Scandal. Chesterfield continues his opinions on presentation since it serves one more element to be judged permitting opinion to ‘descend nevertheless reduced to your dress, cleanliness, and care of your individual.’[11] Chesterfield recognizes societies capacity to judge on manners and as an extension of manners physical presentation: with hygiene becoming noticeable inside societies requirements with things such as ‘A dirty mouth has real ill consequences to the owner (…) it is really offensive to his acquaintances'[12]. The value of the perception is evident to both Sheridan and Chesterfield who appreciate the importance of manners and how society focuses on the attributes of manners. From looking later into Chesterfield’s other letters to his son he starts to appear at manners measured in an intellectual capacity going as far to say it that grammar essential to the good results of the person and their social standing. ’I need to inform you, too, that orthography, in the correct sense of the word, is completely necessary for a particular person of letters.’[13] Recognition of manners is key to accomplishment in society and it is a multitude of manners a single must realize to enable success to prosper.

In The College for Scandal, Richard Brinsley Sheridan utilizes satire to replicate the social predicament of Eighteenth-Century London. Although various in each genre and message, there can be parallels drawn amongst the two by the language each have sneering tones with an intent to upset. Nevertheless, 1 text utilizes it as an ironic statement the other as an educational piece with an try to prevent malice. Utilizing characters like Lady Sneerwell and Sir Benjamin Backbite Sheridan reveals the malicious nature of the inhabitants of higher society whose entertainment is the downfall of other people due to gossip and slander. From the starting of the play, the capability of gossip is evident with the destruction it causes. However, there is the regular of manners that is anticipated to be upheld, but this is anything that is not upheld by the members themselves. Embroiled in every single other individual’s company, the characters manipulate circumstances into a scandal that can result in the downfall of a reputation. Sheridan wrote the play with an intent to educate the individual by means of humor, by combining the comedy with the slanderous predicament it permits the audience to appreciate the contradiction. Lord Chesterfield supplies a different viewpoint than Sheridan because rather than an observer of the society is he is element of it. Chesterfield adds a layer to the social politeness which is the physical presentation of the person by way of their: believing that the two perform in tandem enabling a best portrayal of society preventing such slander from spreading. The distinctive voice that is offered by Chesterfield simply because of his apparent position in higher society, offers a viewpoint into the nucleus of society and its inner workings. Each supply a distinctively distinct voice and permit exploration into the society by way of the texts. All round, the two texts had similarities and differences, with each providing support into understanding the other individuals message simply because of the distinction of viewpoints.

[1] Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The College for Scandal, ed. by Michael Cordner (Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 2008), p. 219

[2] Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The School for Scandal, p219

[three] Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The College for Scandal, p215

[four] Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, Dear Boy: Lord Chesterfield’s Letters to his Son p98

[5] Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The College for Scandal, p210


[7] Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The College for Scandal, p215

[eight] Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The College for Scandal, p214.

[9] “Satire Terms”, Nku.Edu, 2017 <> [accessed 29 December 2016].

[10] Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, Dear Boy: Lord Chesterfield’s Letters to his Son. (London: Bantam, 1989) p100

[11] Ibid,p100

[12] Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, Dear Boy: Lord Chesterfield’s Letters to his Son p98-99

[13] Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, Dear Boy: Lord Chesterfield’s Letters to his Son. (London: Bantam, 1989) p75
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