What Insights Does Sheridan Offer Into Human Nature? [500]

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What insights does Sheridan offer into human nature? [500] Sheridan offers a number of insights into human nature throughout his play The Rivals. One key characteristic of humanity that Sheridan continually exposes in the play is that of deceit. With the exception of Julia, each of the characters in The Rivals practices artifice, or lying, to get what he or she wants from the other characters. Beginning with David's wig, his vain attempt to pass as a member of a higher society that has already dropped the wig from fashionable dress, and ending with Faulkland's last attempt to trick Julia into admitting base motives for loving him, no one willingly presents things as they really are. In fact, many of the characters lie outright. Fag lies to Sir Anthony for Jack about the son's reasons for being in Bath, and Lucy lies to Sir Lucius about who is writing love letters to him. Other characters simply misrepresent themselves. Jack masquerades as Ensign Beverley in order to win Lydia's love, while Mrs. Malaprop tries to appear more sophisticated by peppering her speech with fancy vocabulary that she neither means nor understands. The Rivals too denounces the hollow morality and hypocrisy associated with the sentimental attitude then prevailing, sentiment, or the ability to “feel,” was valued greatly during the eighteenth century. The genre that responded to a rampant interest in feelings — what inspired them and how to control them — was the novel. Sentimental novels were the most popular novel type favoured by women during this period. Projecting its writer's own ideal of a spontaneous and lively light-heartedness. The plot is based on confusion over identities and multiple suitors a combination that leads to plenty of scope for truly funny situations: Absolute caught in the same room with both Mrs. Malaprop and Lydia present, having to play himself for one and Beverley
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