Four Restoration Marriage Plays
Marriage and its discontents lie at the heart of Restoration comedy. In all four of the great plays gathered here, a married woman confronts her would-be seducer. Each dramatist, however, totally reinterprets the situation. Thomas Otway's The Soldier's Fortune converts adultery into political revenge. Nathaniel Lee's The Princess of Cleves offers a potent and perplexing portrait of a libertine in action at the sixteenth-century French court. John Dryden's Amphitryon, set in ancient Thebes, retells the story in which Jupiter lures the virtuous Alcmena into cuckolding her husband by a stratagem that throws into doubt the very nature of human identity. Thomas Southerne's The Wives' Excuse reinvents, for the new circumstances of the 1690s, the familiar Restoration plot of a wife spurred towards infidelity by her partner's failings. All of the plays have been newly edited and are presented with modernized spelling and punctuation.
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Prefatory Note viji
Note on the Texts
THE PRINCESS OF CLEVES
AMPHITRYON OR THE TWO SOSIAS
THE WIVES EXCUSE OR CUCKOLDS MAKE THEMSELVES
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ALCMENA AMPHITRYON appear BEAUGARD believe better bring CELIA character Cleves comedy comes COURTINE cuckold dear death devil door Dryden English Enter Exit eyes face faith fellow fool FOOTMAN FOURBIN FRIENDALL give GRIPUS hand hear heart heaven honour hope husband I'll Jupiter keep kind LADY DUNCE leave live look lord LOVEMORE madam MARGUERITE married matter means MERCURY murder nature NEMOURS never night person PHAEDRA Plautus play pleased pleasure POLTROT poor present PRINCE PRINCESS reason Restoration rogue SAINT-ANDRÉ scene servant sexual SIGHTLY SIR DAVY SIR JOLLY soldier Sosia speak SPRINGAME stage sure SYLVIA tell thee there's things thou thought TOURNON town true turn Vidame WELLVILE whore wife WILDING WITWOUD woman women