Characterization in the School for Scandal Essay

1509 Words 7 Pages
When Richard Brinsley Sheridan wrote the play "The School for Scandal" in 1777, it was a satire of popular fashionable life. He managed to criticize society in a humorous way, by confronting the audience with a mirror image of themselves. Donatus defines comedy as `a copy of life, a mirror of custom, a reflection of truth' (cited in: Abrams, 1953, 32). The topic of scandal could be seen as such a mirror image, because scandal was rife in towns like London; moreover it was a kind of leisure activity for the higher classes.

The play consists of two main plots. The first one is about the relationship between Sir Peter Teazle and his wife. He is much older than Lady Teazle and not pleased about her changing behaviour. Lady Teazle was a
…show more content…
This essay will analyse the presentation of the two Surface brothers by looking at their appearances and the way they are seen by others, and ultimately expose their true characters. Moreover, to approach this essay question in a proper way it is necessary to take into consideration the context in which Sir Oliver's remark is expressed. It might be of importance to think about which person made the remark; to whom it was addressed; and the time it was made. To conclude the essay, the presentation of the brothers will be linked with the remark and discussed in its possible meanings and functions.

One must begin by taking a closer look at the presentation of Joseph Surface, because he has an earlier appearance in the play. His first appearance is already of a foreshadowing nature, because he starts to reveal parts of his real character. Joseph joins a meeting of Lady Sneerwell and Mr. Snake. When he enters the room he says: `My dear Lady Sneerwell, how do you do today? Mr. Snake, your most obedient' (Sheridan, 1979, 14). Later, when Mr. Snake is leaving them, he says again: `Sir, your very devoted' (Sheridan, 1979, 15). But in the next moment, after Mr. Snake is gone, he talks to Lady Sneerwell: `Lady Sneerwell, I am very sorry you have put any further confidence in that fellow' (Sheridan, 1979, 15) and then continues to give reasons for this statement. In this scene, the audience gets to know Joseph's…

More about Characterization in the School for Scandal Essay