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Compare and Contrast the Jacobean Revenge Tragedy and Restoration Comedy Using This Two Plays Duchess of Malfi by John Webster and Aphra Behn the Rovers

By Prof. Malachy Okwueze

Summary

compare and contrast Jacobean Revenge Tragedy and Restoration Comedy using The Rovers by Aphra Behn and The Duchess of Malfi by John Websters
Compare and Contrast the Jacobean Revenge Tragedy and Restoration Comedy Using This Two Plays Duchess of Malfi by John Webster and Aphra Behn the Rovers
 
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Abstract

NAME: EZEMA, MICHEAL CHIKADIBIA

DEPT: ENGLISH AND LITERARY STUDIES

REG.NO: 2015/202407

LECTURER: MR. ONYEKA ODOH

COURSE: NEOCLASSICAL LITERATURE

COURSE CODE: ELS 221

 

DEDICATION:

TO

This work is dedicated to God Almighty the source of all we have and also to my class mate for their help and once more, my greetings to my honorable lecturer Mr. Odoh.

 

INTRODUCTION:

  • What is Neoclassicism
  • What is Renaissance period
  •  What is Revenge Tragedy
  •  What is Jacobean Revenge Tragedy
  • What is a Restoration Comedy?
  • What is a Comedy of Manners?
  • What is a Sentimental Comedy?

 

  1. The Duchess of Malfi as a Jacobean Revenge Tragedy.

 

  1.  The major themes and characteristics seen in the Duchess of Malfi as a comparative works of Jacobean Revenge Tragedy.

 

  1. In conclusion of the play as a Jacobean Revenge Tragedy

 

  1. Aphra Behn’s the Rover as a Restoration comedy

 

  1. The major themes and characteristics seen in the Rover as a comparative works of Restoration comedy.

 

  1. In conclusion of the play as a Restoration comedy.

 

  1. comparative views on Jacobean Revenge Tragedy and Restoration Comedy using the two plays, the Rovers and Duchess of Malfi

 

  1. contrastive views of the Rover and the Duchess of Malfi as a Jacobean Revenge Tragedy and a Restoration Comedy.

 

 

 

 

 

What is neoclassicism:

Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome. Neoclassicism was born in Rome in the mid-18th century, but its popularity spread all over Europe, as a generation of European art students finished their Grand Tour and returned from Italy to their home countries with newly rediscovered Greco-Roman ideals. The main Neoclassical movement coincided with the 18th-century Age of Enlightenment, and continued into the early 19th century, laterally competing with Romanticism. In architecture, the style continued throughout the 19th, 20th and up to the 21st century.

European Neoclassicism in the visual arts began c. 1760 in opposition to the then-dominant Baroque and Rococo styles. Rococo architecture emphasizes grace, ornamentation and asymmetry; Neoclassical architecture is based on the principles of simplicity and symmetry, which were seen as virtues of the arts of Rome and Ancient Greece, and were more immediately drawn from 16th-century Renaissance Classicism. Each "neo"-classicism selects some models among the range of possible classics that are available to it, and ignores others. The Neoclassical writers and talkers, patrons and collectors, artists and sculptors of 1765–1830 paid homage to an idea of the generation of Phidias, but the sculpture examples they actually embraced were more likely to be Roman copies of Hellenistic sculptures. They ignored both Archaic Greek art and the works of Late Antiquity. The "Rococo" art of ancient Palmyra came as a revelation, through engravings in Wood's The Ruins of Palmyra. Even Greece was all-but-unvisited, a rough backwater of the Ottoman Empire, dangerous to explore, so Neoclassicists' appreciation of Greek architecture was mediated through drawings and engravings, which subtly smoothed and regularized, "corrected" and "restored" the monuments of Greece, not always consciously.

In English, the term "Neoclassicism" is used primarily of the visual arts; the similar movement in English literature, which began considerably earlier, is called Augustan literature. This, which had been dominant for several decades, was beginning to decline by the time Neoclassicism in the visual arts became fashionable. Though terms differ, the situation in French literature was similar. In music, the period saw the rise of classical music, and "Neoclassicism" is used of 20th-century developments. However, the operas of Christoph Willibald Gluck represented a specifically Neoclassical approach, spelt out in his preface to the published score of Alceste (1769), which aimed to reform opera by removing ornamentation, increasing the role of the chorus in line with Greek tragedy, and using simpler unadorned melodic lines.

The term "Neoclassical" was not invented until the mid-19th century, and at the time the style was described by such terms as "the true style", "reformed" and "revival"; what was regarded as being revived varying considerably. Ancient models were certainly very much involved, but the style could also be regarded as a revival of the Renaissance, and especially in France as a return to the more austere and noble Baroque of the age of Louis XIV, for which a considerable nostalgia had developed as France's dominant military and political position started a serious decline. Ingres's coronation portrait of Napoleon even borrowed from Late Antique consular diptychs and their Carolingian revival, to the disapproval of critics.

Neoclassicism was strongest in architecture, sculpture and the decorative arts, where classical models in the same medium were relatively numerous and accessible; examples from ancient painting that demonstrated the qualities that Winckelmann's writing found in sculpture were and are lacking. Winckelmann was involved in the dissemination of knowledge of the first large Roman paintings to be discovered, at Pompeii and Herculaneum and, like most contemporaries except for Gavin Hamilton, was unimpressed by them, citing Pliny the Younger's comments on the decline of painting in his period.

 

What is Renaissance period:

Renaissance literature refers to European literature which was influenced by the intellectual and cultural tendencies associated with the Renaissance. The literature of the Renaissance was written within the general movement of the Renaissance which arose in 14th-century Italy and continued until the 16th century while being diffused into the western world. It is characterized by the adoption of a humanist philosophy, the recovery of the classical literature of Antiquity and benefited from the spread of printing in the latter part of the 15th century. For the writers of the Renaissance Greco-Roman inspiration was shown both in the themes of their writing and in the literary forms they used. The world was considered from an anthropocentric perspective. Platonic ideas were revived and put to the service of Christianity. The search for pleasures of the senses and a critical and rational spirit completed the ideological panorama of the period. New literary genres such as the essay (Montaigne) and new metrical forms such as the sonnet (Petrarch) and Spenserian stanza made their appearance.

The impact of the Renaissance varied across the continent; countries that were predominantly Catholic or Protestant experienced the Renaissance differently. Areas where the Orthodox Church was culturally dominant, as well as those areas of Europe under Islamic rule were more or less outside its influence. The period focused on self-actualization and one's ability to accept what is going on in one's life.

The earliest Renaissance literature appeared in Italy in the 14th century; Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Machiavelli and Ariosto are notable examples of Italian Renaissance writers. From Italy, the influence of the Renaissance spread at different times to other countries and continued to spread around Europe through the 17th century. The English Renaissance and the Renaissance in Scotland date from the late 15th century to the early 17th century. In northern Europe, the scholarly writings of Erasmus, the plays of Shakespeare, the poems of Edmund Spenser and the writings of Sir Philip Sidney may be considered Renaissance in character.

 

What is Revenge tragedy:

The revenge tragedy was established on the Elizabethan stage with Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy in 1587. In this play, Hieronimo's discovery of his son Horatio's dead body leads him into a brief fit of madness, after which he discovers the identity of his son's murderers and plans his revenge through a play-within-a-play. It is during this play that he enacts his revenge, after which he kills himself. With Hieronimo's quest for justice in the face of a seemingly powerless state, Spanish Tragedy introduced the thematic issues of retributive justice that would be explored as the genre gained popularity and developed on the Elizabethan and Jacobean stage. The distinction and cultural contention between public and private revenge has been considered by some to be the defining theme of not only early modern revenge tragedy but all early modern tragedy. The tension between public and private revenge, then, has also led to disputes between whether the protagonists enacting private revenge are heroes or villains: is Hieronimo, a character who seeks private revenge to gain retribution for the private murder of his son, a villain or a hero?

Believed to have been staged shortly afterwards, Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus is another early piece of the genre in which the dangerous cycle of revenge through private justice is brought to the fore and the typical features of the genre can be found. In this play, Titus' murder of Tamora's eldest son in a ritual of war leads to the rape and mutilation of his daughter Lavinia. As his revenge, Titus murders Tamora's remaining sons, bakes them into pie, and serves them to her at a feast…

 

What is Jacobean Revenge tragedy:

The revenge tragedy, or revenge play, is a dramatic genre in which the protagonist seeks revenge for an imagined or actual injury. The term, revenge tragedy, was first introduced in 1900 by A.H. Thorndike to label a class of plays written in the late Elizabethan and early Jacobean eras (circa 1580s to 1620s).

Revenge tragedies of William Shakespeare and his contemporaries stemmed from Roman Tragedies, in particular, Seneca's Thyestes. Seneca's tragedies followed three main themes: the inconsistency of fortune (Troades), stories of crime and the evils of murder (Thyestes), and plays in which poverty, chastity and simplicity are celebrated (Hippolytus).

In Thyestes, Seneca portrayed the evil repercussions of murder. In order to exact revenge on his brother Thyestes for adultery with his wife, Atreus lures him to Argos under the pretext of a shared rule, but instead tricks him into eating the cooked flesh of his own children. Seneca's criminals (in this case Thyestes) are always deserving of their punishment unless they repent, since he believed the will to do evil is entirely in the hands of the individual, who must therefore be appropriately punished. This ethical logic becomes complicated, however, since the revenging murder is also a crime, transforming the revenger into a criminal, and thus prompting retribution on behalf of the punished

 

What is a Restoration comedy:

Restoration comedy refers to English comedies written and performed in the Restoration period from 1660 to 1710. Comedy of manners is used as a synonym of Restoration comedy. After public stage performances, had been banned for 18 years by the Puritan regime, the re-opening of the theatres in 1660 signaled a renaissance of English drama. Restoration comedy is notorious for its sexual explicitness, a quality encouraged by Charles II (1660–1685) personally and by the rakish aristocratic ethos of his court. The socially diverse audiences included both aristocrats, their servants and hangers-on, and a substantial middle-class segment. These playgoers were attracted to the comedies by up-to-the-minute topical writing, by crowded and bustling plots, by the introduction of the first professional actresses, and by the rise of the first celebrity actors. This period saw the first professional female playwright, Aphra Behn

 

What is a comedy of manners:

The comedy of manners is a genre of comedy that flourished on the English stage during the Restoration period. Plays of this type are typically set in the world of the upper class, and ridicule the pretensions of those who consider themselves socially superior, deflating them with satire. With witty dialogue and cleverly constructed scenarios, comedies of manners comment on the standards and mores of society and explore the relationships of the sexes. Marriage is a frequent subject. Typically, there is little depth of characterization; instead, the playwrights used stock character types, the fool, the schemer, the hypocrite, the jealous husband, the interfering old parents, and constructed plots with rapid twists in events, often precipitated by miscommunications. The roots of the comedy of manners can be traced back to Molière's seventeenth-century French comedies and to the “humors” comedy of Ben Jonson; indeed, certain characteristics can be found as far back in time as ancient Greek plays.

 

What is a sentimental comedy:

Sentimental comedy was a reaction to the bawdy restoration comedy of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Sentimental comedy is an 18th-century dramatic genre which sprang up as a reaction to the immoral tone of English Restoration plays. In Sentimental comedies, middle-class protagonists triumphantly overcome a series of moral trials. These plays aimed to produce tears rather than laughter and reflected contemporary philosophical conceptions of humans as inherently good but capable of being led astray by bad example. By appealing to his noble sentiments, a man could be reformed and set back on the path of virtue. While the plays contained characters, whose natures seemed overly virtuous and whose problems were too easily resolved, they were accepted by audiences as truthful representations of the human predicament.We have other views of comedy such as; Dark comedy, which has no laugher. Example is vulpine.

 

THE DUCHESS OF MALFI AS A JACOBEAN REVENGE TRAGEDY:

In the Jacobean Revenge Tragedy; is a dramatic genre in which the protagonist seeks revenge for an imagined or actual injury. The ghost of the murdered victim urges revenge, met theatricality, madness, murder, cannibalism etc. are all the characteristics we do finds in revenge tragedy. One the great contentions of the revenge tragedy is the issue of private revenge, divine revenge, and public revenge. For some scholar’s views on this, the fact that plays openly question the morality of revenge and taking justice into one’s own hands is evidence that the public was morally opposed to the concept. For others; however, the popularly of the genre is evidence that the plays expressed the frustrations and desires for justice against oppressive governance of the public. (Duchess’s two brothers is a victim of this case)

In Jacobean Revenge Tragedy, the narrative should involve complex plotting, and the strong is Centre on characters of noble birth and also involves physical horrors such as poisoning and torture and all this is set into five acts which is laid down by Senecas’original rules of tragedy.

In the Duchess of Malfi as a revenge tragedy; these characteristics of tragedy is seen

 

THE MAJOR THEMES AND CHARACTERISTICS SEEN IN THE DUCHESS OF MALFI AS A COMPARATIVE WORKS OF JACOBEAN REVENGE TRAGEDY:

Horrors in The Duchess of Malfi: This drama contains so many elements of horrors or which it can be classified as a melodrama. From the beginning to the end of this drama, there are a lot of elements of horrors. The last two acts of the play have an abundance of them. However melodramatic episodes are seen earlier too. The Duke in order to horrify the Duchess gives a dead man’s hand to her and she kisses it taking it to be the Duke's hand. The spectacle of waxen images of the dead bodies of Antonio and children presented before the Duchess is another horrid scene. The unruly dance of the mad men before the Duchess, the appearance of Bosola as a tomb makes and a bell man and the appearance of the executioners with bell and core in procession, too are intended to create horror. The next horror is mentioned in the series of murders committee by Bosola. The last horror comes when Julia is poisoned in a most cold-blooded manner. Antonio is killed and Ferdinand, Cardinal and Bosola all meet their death at the end. So, there are the ten murders
 

Revenge and murders: Taking revenge and murdering people are the integral part of revenge tragedy. In this drama, we find people taking revenge and are murdering others. But Webster sets his play in a different manner, the revenge and murders are committed in a different manner from the traditional manner. The revengeful brothers are both villains. They are the victims of an insensate fury that blinds the eyes, maddens the drain, and poisons the springs of pity. The piteous sufferings of their victim from the hard heart of Bosola who says:
                        “You may discern the share of loveliness,
                            More perfect in her tears than in the smile”.
We have seen that there was a love affair between the Duchess and Antonio and at last they marry and they produce three children. On hearing the news of their secret marriage and their children, the cardinal and The Duke Ferdinand react angrily. And from the beginning to the end of Act two, scene five, we seed the reaction of the two brothers for the action of their sister. They think that the Duchess has destroyed the reputation and status of their family. The Cardinal says, "Shall our blood, / The royal blood of Aragon and Castile, Be thus attained?” So, they don't want to destroy the family reputation and wants to kill her. Here Ferdinand says, “I’ll find scorpions to string my whips, /And fix her in a general eclipse". Hence their deeds of revenge are not a wild kind of justice but monstrous wrong. Ferdinand gives her the command. He had threatened to use in the play's first scene:
"Die, then quickly."
The Duchess of Malfi differs in a number of ways from the traditional revenge play. It doesn't become clear why revenge is taken on the Duchess. Her only fault is that she has married below her rank and status and thus the two brothers think, she has disgraced the family. She has certainly not committer any heinous crime for which she is subjected unjustified. That the weak revenge motives are clearly brought out by the fact that for more than two years her two brothers do nothing to punish the Duchess.
 

Supernatural elements: In presenting the supernatural too, Webster deviates from the tradition or modifies the tradition. He doesn't present and of the conventional hosts and objectives portents found in typical revenge plays. There is absolutely nothing unrealistically supernatural in the play. The sorrowful answers which the echo makes to Antonio's words are the result of a natural phenomenon. Antonio's words: “and on the sudden a clear light/presented of a face folded in sorrow” (Act V Scene III) come only from his fancy born out of his affection for the Duchess. No ghost appears on the scene. In this, Webster has shown vital concern for an artistic atmosphere of supernatural.

Madness shown on the stage: It's a tradition of Elizabethan revenge tragedy to show madness on the stage. In this play we see madness of these mad people. However, hue is some psychological interest too present in it. The Duke advices the scheme to torture the Duchess with the intention of turning her mad. But ironically, he, not the Duchess, becomes mad. This madness of the Duke his still greater significance.
In summing up we can say that "The Duchess of Malfi" is a revenge tragedy. Although Webster wrote this drama following the tradition of revenge tragedy, he has modified some of its aspects to make it unique. And he is perfect enough drawing the art in his own style that makes it more acceptable to the readers to accept it as a true revenge tragedy. So, in a word we can say that it is a perfect revenge tragedy.

 

In conclusion of the play as a Jacobean Revenge Tragedy;

The revenge play or revenge tragedy is a tragedy in which a murder victim is avenged, often by some younger kinsman, and usually resulting in the death of both murderer and avenger. The form of play was extremely popular in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras with the best-known examples being Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy and William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The genre was first categorized by the scholar Fredson Bowers.

The Duchess of Malfi” by John Webster as A Revenge Tragedy. “The Duchess of Malfi” is a macabre, tragic play, written by the English dramatist John Webster. It begins as a love story, with a Duchess who marries beneath her class, and ends as a nightmarish tragedy as her two brothers exact their revenge, destroying themselves in the process. The play is sometimes ridiculed by modern critics for the excessive violence and horror in its later scenes. But the violence and horror scenes give it the touch it needs to be a revenge tragedy.

The Cardinal and Ferdinand, the brothers of the Duchess, are very much against their sister’s re-marriage. Ferdinand urges her not to marry again. He condemns it because he thinks that it shows a lustful nature. He doesn’t want to give any other reason. But it is obvious that Ferdinand doesn’t want to their inheritance. Ferdinand even warns her by showing his father’s dagger and that he would use it to take revenge for not listening to him

But the Duchess is a free natured woman. She doesn’t change her decision to re-marry. She marries her steward Antonio though the Duchess assures that she will not marry again. But her brother is right when he thinks that she will go against his will. So, on the Cardinal’s advice, he hires Bosola as a spy.

The undoing of the Duchess starts when Bosola suspects her to be pregnant. He is a very cunning man. He waits for signs that confirm his suspicion. He even gives the Duchess apricots to see if she eats them eagerly as any pregnant woman might. His suspicion is confirmed when the child’s horoscope falls in his hand which was mistakenly dropped by Antonio. He immediately informs the two brothers by sending them a letter. After getting the letter the Duke burst into anger. He couldn’t control his rage. He starts shouting and cursing his sister. He refers to the Duchess, his own sister, as a “notorious strumpet”. He is determined to take revenge just because she didn’t listen to him. He says that he would destroy the Duchess’s palace, her forests, her pastoral lands, here general territory. Ferdinand was so eager to take revenge that he said that he would put the Duchess and her lover in a coal-pit to burn them and close the chimney so that the smoke from burning them couldn’t go heaven wards. He also wants to dip their bed-sheets in pitch or Sulphur, wrap them in those bed-sheets and then set fire to them to burn like a match stick. The horrific way in which he describes torturing and killing his sister show the revengeful attitude in which he is. Though the Cardinal is not in a rage like the Duke, he doesn’t defend his sister or the cruel intentions the Duke has against their sister. Rather, he tells him to cool down and plan the revenge with a calm head.

The Duke pays a visit to the Duchess. But he doesn’t show any type of anger. Rather he dismisses the rumor that was circulating about the Duchess. But he acquires a key of the Duchess’s bedroom through Bosola to spy on her. The Duke enters her room at night and overhears her talking to Antonio though Antonio is not present there. He tells her that it is good that he doesn’t know the identity of her lover or the situation would have been much worse. He gives her a dagger suggesting that she kill herself for degrading the honor of the family. Thus, again the revengeful nature of the Duke is in front of us.

As the Duchess is afraid of the well-being of Antonio, she discharges him of his duty and tells him to flee to Ancona. But she makes the mistake in believing Bosola and reveals to him that Antonio is her husband. Bosola immediately informs the brothers. At this time the Cardinal is invested by the Emperor as a soldier at Loretto. Here he takes the part of a revengeful brother by banishing Antonio, the Duchess and their children from the State of Ancona.

Ferdinand sends a letter to the Duchess through Bosola which, on the surface offers reconciliation, but is a threat to her and her family. Antonio flees with their eldest son to Milan on the Duchess’s request. Bosola comes wearing a mask bringing a guard with him to arrest the Duchess.

The Duchess has endured her imprisonment with great fortitude. Ferdinand meets the Duchess in the dark because he had vowed not to see her again. In the dark he promises her pardon and peace, and offers her a hand to kiss. The Duchess makes the dreadful discovery that she is holding a dead man’s hand which, she is told is Antonio’s. A curtain is then drawn, revealing figures of Antonio and the children, appearing as if they were dead. This provokes her to suicide which the Duke wanted in the first place. He is happy that his sister is in distress upon seeing the wax figures. He further wants to torment her by letting loose a group of madmen upon her. From the point where he gave her the dagger to this point, Ferdinand didn’t want to be blamed for the death of his sister. He was hoping that the torture he was doing to his sister would ultimately make her take her own life. But, as this didn’t work, he sent Bosola as a tomb-maker. Then he sends executioners with coffin, cords and a bell. These things don’t scare her a bit. At last when the Duchess doesn’t take her own life, she is strangled to death. But after seeing the dead body of his sister Ferdinand is full of remorse for killing her.

“Cover her face. Mine eyes dazzle. She died young”

He didn’t have any problem when he tormented her to take revenge or if she had committed suicide. But when the murder of Duchess falls directly in his hand, he becomes insane and remorseful.

But the revenge doesn’t end there. The Cardinal hires Bosola to kill Antonio. He is totally ignorant of the death of his sister.

Bosola suspects that Cardinal is hiding something and uses Julia to find out the secret that the Cardinal was behind the plot to kill the Duchess. But after realizing that his secret is no more a secret, the Cardinal takes revenge on Julia by poisoning her for making him confess his involvement in the killing of the Duchess.

Bosola begins to repent for his works after killing the Duchess. He was made to kill her and was again being used to kill Antonio. He realizes that he could never prosper through the evil ways he has chosen and feels angry at the Cardinal for making him pursue the evil way of life. As a result, he takes the life of the Cardinal to avenge for the condition he is in.

On the other hand, Ferdinand, has developed a horrible disease called “lycanthropia” which makes him imagine that he is a wolf. He goes to graveyards and digs out dead bodies like wolves.

In the last scene, we see that the Cardinal is reading a book which contains a description of the fire of hell. He was feeling the pricks of his conscience. Looking into the fishponds in his garden, he sees a figure armed with a rake ready to strike him.

Revenge tragedy is different from other tragedies in the sense that the whole part of the tragedy will be based on revenge. In Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” though Macduff kills Macbeth to avenge the killing of his family, the play can’t be called a revenge tragedy because Macbeth was the reason for his own tragic end. He initiated the dreadful killings which led to his downfall. But in “The Duchess of Malfi”, the Duchess’s only fault was that she married against the will of her brothers. Another aspect of a revenge tragedy is that the persons involve in the revenge ultimately feels remorse for what they have done and in most cases, it leads to their damnation. In the play, Ferdinand goes mad, the Cardinal sees images, Bosola repents for his evil-doings and ultimately, they face death in an unnatural way. So, from the above aspects it is clear that John Webster’s “The Duchess of Malfi” is a revenge tragedy.

 

APHRA BEHN’S THE ROVER AS A RESTORATION COMEDY:

Plays of this type are typically set in the world of the upper class, and ridicule the pretensions of those who consider themselves socially superior, deflating them with satire. With witty dialogue and cleverly constructed scenarios, comedies of manners comment on the standards and mores of society and explore the relationships of the sexes. Marriage is a frequent subject. Typically, there is little depth of characterization; instead, the playwrights used stock character types, the fool, the schemer, the hypocrite, the jealous husband, the interfering old parents and constructed plots with rapid twists in events, often precipitated by miscommunications.

In comedy renaissance in 1690-1700, the focus in comedy is less on young lovers outwitting the older generation, more on marital relations after the wedding bells. For instance; Southerner’s dark The Wives' Excuse (1691) is not yet very "soft": it shows a woman miserably married to the fop Friendall, everybody's friend, whose follies and indiscretions undermine her social worth, since her honor is bound up in his. Mrs. Friendall is pursued by a would-be lover, a matter-of-fact rake devoid of all the qualities that made Etherege's Dormant charming, and she is kept from action and choice by the unattractiveness of all her options. All the humor of this "comedy" is in the subsidiary love-chase and fornication plots, none in the main plot.

The plot of the comedy, often concerned with scandal, is generally less important than its witty dialogue. A great writer of restoration of comedy was Oscar Wild, in his most famous play being The importance of being Ernest Restoration of comedy also called comedy of manners is an entertainment form which satirizes the manners and affectations of a social class or of multiple classes, often represented by stereotypical stock characters. For example, the miles gloriosus ("boastful soldier") in ancient times, the fop and the rake during the English Restoration, or an old person pretending to be young ( in the way of the world; lady wishfort act)

The genre of comedy has been approached from the point of plots, characters, comic elements and finally the audience experience.

Plot; comedy begins with the disturbance of equilibrium and resolves with restoration of order or balance by William Harmon.

Comic elements; it is a fictional work in which the material work is selected and managed primarily to entertain or amuse us. By M.H Abrams.

Characters; in Shakespearean et al, they are there for laughter, amusement etc.

Audience; they pass judgement to the final core. If is of satire, pain, happiness etc. is left for them.

The characteristics of a Restoration comedy is; it is set mainly in upper class, ridicule the pretentions of those who consider themselves social superior, deflating them with satire, there humor satire is not natural but of imitation, witty dialogue, cleverly constructed scenarios, marriage is a frequent subject, the playwrights used stock characters’ types (the fools, the schemer, the hypocrite, the jealous husband, the interfering old parent), etc. all this is found in the Rovers

 

THE MAJOR THEMES AND CHARACTERISTICS SEEN IN ROVER AS A COMPARATIVE WORK OF RESTORATION COMEDY.

Marriage as a frequent subject: in a Restoration comedy, marriage is mainly their subject goal which lore them to materialism over love. In the Rover Hellena, Florinda and Valeria where denied to marry their love ones because of the family interest and reputations of royal et al but do to it is a Restoration era and also a period of Renaissance period, they achieve their own freedom despite of threats from their brothers. Florinda, the main character is force to marry Don Vincenti’s son Antonio but she does not like him but the family try to force her because Don Antonion is a noble man but Florinda stands and marry to her lover named Belville likewise Hellena who her brother wants her not to marry but she insisted and get married to Willmore.

In all works of Restoration comedy, there is always a secret marriage do to the problem of patriarchal order from the both party. We see this when Willmore was at the foot door to disturb Don Pedro not to enter until the secret wedding of Florinda and Belvile is over.

 

Upper class: The Rover; value of where individual comes from matters. In the case of Florinda been denied to marry Belvile and wanting to marry Antonio is all about class. In all Comedy of Manners, its attitude of class is quite clear. A good author to this is Oscar Wild the Importance of Being Ernest in which jack is been denied of marring Gwendolen if he can’t say where he comes from and also other character in the play.

 

Pretentious: the playwright uses the stock characters’ type to create humor, satire, such as those who pretend to do what they are not in other to avert superior class or to degrade themselves.

Florinda dress like a servant to make sure if Belvile is a good husband to her and after everything, Belvile pass the trial. Again, Hellena, Florinda and Valeria dresses like a man in other to know the heart of their brother Pedro and his friends, Blunt, Antonio, Willmore.

 

IN CONCLUSION OF THE ROVER AS A RESTORATION COMEDY

In Aphra Behn’s play; it centers on the restoration of woman in other to favor the value and customs of the family as a patriarchal order. It is also see as the first stage of woman to appear on a stage which is re-birth of honor (Renaissance).

Florinda is a character which encompasses the restoration woman’s struggle to gain agency in marriage. Before arriving at carnival, which is like a shade to Florinda against the wishes of her brother and family as a patriarchal order, she was been humiliated by some men as a result of gender inequality. Florinda was attempted to be rap by Willmore and Blunt in different occasion but as a Restoration Comedy, they later come to their senses and beseech forgiveness and Florinda forgives both.

In Act V scene I, Angellica Bianca whom Willmore woe in other to sleep with her is with a gun to shut Willmore to death because the love he promises her is a lie and also Don Pedro who has been looking for his two sisters to punish them comes around and bless their marriage and also beg his friend to whom he has fight with in other to win Angellica, Don Antonio and Blunt and they all reconciled and both parties where happy and this leads to the definition of Comedy by William Harmon et al which says “Comedy begins with the disturbance of equilibrium and resolves with the restoration of order”.

 

COMPARATIVE VIEWS ON JACOBEAN REVENGE TRAGEDY AND RESTORATION COMEDY USING THE TWO PLAYS; THE ROVERS AND DUCHESS OF MALFI.

From the introduction of Jacobean revenge tragedy and the restoration comedy and also its motifs and characteristics at the initial view, we can say a lot of its compares.

In the two plays, they both has two strong theme in common which is “the noble birth, love, gender and marriage subjects”

The Duchess of Malfi; as a Revenge tragedy is all center on the noble birth on individual and marriage as a frequent subject, love of young men and women, gender issues. Here, if Duchess should have given ears to the patriarchal order there wouldn’t be of avenging and revenging which is common in Jacobean play and also this case is the same in Restoration comedy in which the noble family will like their children [sons and daughter] to marry from a noble patterner too.

Duchess of Malfi is centered mainly on revenge in which both the avengers and the victims are doom to their death. We can see this when Ferdinand was so eager to take revenge that he said that he would put the Duchess and her lover in a coal-pit to burn them and close the chimney so that the smoke from burning them couldn’t go heaven wards. He also wants to dip their bed-sheets in pitch or Sulphur, wrap them in those bed-sheets and then set fire to them to burn like a match stick. He achieves that by offering her a kiss in the dark room because he vows not to see her sister again because she goes against their family wish for her and Duchess ignorantly think that the hands which see kiss was that of her husband and she committed suicide.

Again, Bosola suspects that Cardinal is hiding something and uses Julia to find out the secret that the Cardinal was behind the plot to kill the Duchess. But after realizing that his secret is no more a secret, the Cardinal takes revenge on Julia by poisoning her for making him confess his involvement in the killing of the Duchess.

Bosola begins to repent for his works after killing the Duchess. He was made to kill her and was again being used to kill Antonio. He realizes that he could never prosper through the evil ways he has chosen and feels angry at the Cardinal for making him pursue the evil way of life. As a result, he takes the life of the Cardinal to avenge for the condition he is in.

In the play The Rover; Angellica Bianca wants to revenge Willmore for using her only as a coy mistress inside of making her a wife but she forgives him in act 3 scenes 1 which is inform of humor and satire; that is a woman taking by men as a whore.

In the play, we can see Don Pedro thinking of revenging her sister for not obeying his authority as the elder’s son of her father, chance in a comic manner and even bless the marriage.

 

CONTRASTIVE VIEWS OF THE ROVERS AND THE DUCHESS OF MALFI AS A    JACOBEAN REVENGE TRAGEDY AND A RESTORATION COMEDY

The Restoration comedy in actual sense of reasoning marks the end of medieval period and the beginning of Renaissance period which is freedom of all kind. The restoration comedy reflecting on the Rover is said to be the first time a woman is on theatre. Aphra Behn’s lets us to understand her work through Florinda as a female character in the struggle of liberation from men as superior over then. While in Duchess of Malfi as a Jacobean Revenge Tragedy; questioning man’s authority is a tabor.

Comedy of manners; Plays of this type are typically set in the world of the upper class, and ridicule the pretensions of those who consider themselves socially superior, deflating them with satire. With witty dialogue and cleverly constructed scenarios, comedies of manners comment on the standards and mores of society and explore the relationships of the sexes and all is seen in the play Rover by Aphra Behn. While in Revenge tragedy, is a dramatic genre in which the protagonist seeks revenge for an imagined or actual injury. The ghost of the murdered victim urges revenge, met theatricality, madness, murder, cannibalism etc. are all the characteristics we do finds in revenge tragedy.

In Duchess of Malfi; the aspect of a revenge tragedy is that the persons involve in the revenge ultimately feels remorse for what they have done and in most cases, it leads to their damnation. In the play, Ferdinand goes mad, the Cardinal sees images, Bosola repents for his evil-doings and ultimately, they face death in an unnatural way. While in Rovers, there is no such attitude of revenge that is serious or blood shard.

In Jacobean Revenge Tragedy; Duchess of Malfi the play is sometimes ridiculed by modern critics for the excessive violence and horror in its later scenes. But the violence and horror scenes give it the touch it needs to be a revenge tragedy.

The Cardinal and Ferdinand, the brothers of the Duchess, are very much against their sister’s re-marriage. Ferdinand urges her not to marry again. He condemns it because he thinks that it shows a lustful nature. He doesn’t want to give any other reason. But it is obvious that Ferdinand doesn’t want to their inheritance. Ferdinand even warns her by showing his father’s dagger and that he would use it to take revenge for not listening to him, while in Restoration Comedy, there is no excessive violence and horror but that of ridicule and pretensions of those who consider themselves socially superior, deflating them with satire, the focus in comedy is less on young lovers outwitting the older generation, more on marital relations after the wedding bell. The Rover, we do see Don Pedro forcing her sister Florinda to marry his friend Don Anthonio but it is of satire in nature not of excessive violence like of Revenge tragedy and also the social behavior the characters in the Rover portraits is more of comic nature. We can see that when Don Pedro and Don Anthonio is fighting because of Angellica’s price.

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Prof. Malachy Okwueze

Prof. Malachy Okwueze

Professor and former deputy vice chancellor administration of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

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