Curbing the Cuckold-Maker: The Transformation of the Restoration Rake in English Comedy, 1660-1686
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of English
My thesis examines the theatrical Restoration rake character throughout the years 1660 to 1686. As a cuckold-maker, the rake on stage enforces satire on the husbands he cuckolds. However, as Aparna Gollapudi argues in Moral Reform in Comedy and Culture, 1696-1747, at the beginning of the eighteenth century the tone of English theatre shifted towards reform, “not by inflicting punishment but by imparting experiential instruction” (6). I argue, through analysis of four Restoration comedies, that we can observe signs of the moral shift that Gollapudi locates in the 1690s in playwrights’ shifting treatment of the theatrical cuckold-making Restoration rake through 1660-1686. Though playwrights in the early Restoration (roughly 1660-1679) subtly undermine their rake characters’ satirical authority by characterizing their rakes as manipulative but ultimately self-defeating satirists, playwrights after 1680 more explicitly undermine their rake characters’ satirical authority by characterizing their rakes as passionate young men in need of moral education.
Great Britain History , Plays , Playwrites , Rake character , Restoration, 1660-1688 , Restoration literature