Behind Sheridan’s play, The School for Scandal, rests a history of convention and forms already accepted in the theatrical world. In the tradition of a Comedy of Manners, Sheridan is mocking the society that he is a part of. He takes the foibles of human beings and turns them into fictional characters in order to provide a mirror for the society that he sees as licentious and focused on scandal. The whole point of the Comedies of Manners is to put down accepted norms and build up new ones for the betterment of society. For Sheridan, the accepted form in the dramatical cannon was a play of sentiments, but instead of following that he turns his play around and abuses the characters of sentiment and rewards those characters who are honest. However, these characters, Charles and Lady Teazle, follow a code of honesty less strictly attuned to the whole truth, but more of an honesty with omissions. They do not spout hypocritical sentiments but they are not being completely honest in their reasons for reformation. Sheridan uses Charles and Lady Teazle in order to promote a new model of society wherein self-gratification is the determining feature, as opposed to the old form of hypocritical sentiments. On a side note, these same characters also boycott the fracturing element of scandal in their quests for self-gratification and hold up the idea of unity in family life instead.
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