Richard Brinsley Sheridan: The Rivals

(2696 words)

The Rivals is Sheridan’s first play, a regular five-act comedy set in the town of Bath which from the 1730s had become very popular with wealthy people who would take the medicinal waters at the Roman baths, see their friends, and seek to arrange appropriate marriages for their sons and daughters. It is quite a typical play of its time, with a conventional set of characters. There are two pairs of lovers, one in the main plot, the other in a secondary action. Lydia Languish, the main heroine, through reading novels, has decided that true romance is only to be found amongst the poor and so her lover, Captain Jack Absolute, has had to disguise himself as a poor officer, Ensign Beverley, to woo her. The other pair, Julia and …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to read about membership. All our articles have been written recently by experts in their field, more than 95% of them university professors.

MacLachlan, Christopher. "The Rivals". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 28 October 2011
[, accessed 06 July 2015.]