Homosociality and the place of the woman in the works of the Restoration and eighteenth-century comic stage
Martinez, Mary Elizabeth
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The element of homosociality, as defined by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick in Between Men: English Literature and the Male Homosocial Desire, permeates the realm of the Restoration and eighteenth-century comic stage in which the most significant relationships most often exist solely between male characters. The female characters in these dramas, therefore, in many ways represent mere props through which the exclusively male relationships are altered or stimulated; these women, however, cleverly learn the most profitable way to function in such an atmosphere. This thesis explores the defining theme of homosociality in relation to the reactions and responses of female characters, as well as in relation to the effect of homosociality on the male-female dynamic of many of the most illustrative comedic plays of this time period. This study also examines the transformation of the homosocial aspect throughout the era as influenced by the rise of the sentimental comedy, as well as by the emergence of the laughing comedy in reaction to sentimentalism. Rooted in Sedgwick’s theory of homosociality, this thesis extends and manipulates her analysis, navigating through the homosocial worlds of the most representative Restoration and eighteenth-century dramatic comedies with great emphasis on William Wycherley’s The Country Wife, William Congreve’s The Way of the World, Colley Cibber’s The Careless Husband, George Farquhar’s The Beaux’ Stratagem, and Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer.
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