Sheridan's Conscious Artistry
Eighteenth-century playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan employed rhetorical strategies to enlighten and entertain. Sheridan's mimetic, innovative artistry engages audiences in a revival of wit and simultaneously uncovers society's hypocrisies. This thesis analyzes Sheridan's artistic application of these rhetorical devices in The Rivals and, specifically, in the dialogue of the play's character, Mrs. Malaprop. The erudition of Sheridan scholars develops insight into Sheridan's life, genius, and society, and evidence of Sheridan's artistry as the result of family influence and celebrated authors is included.
Sheridan achieved a reputation for a humorous wit and a sharp perception of society's ills. He also accomplished public influence through political success. Although Sheridan was unable to find happiness in his personal life and was powerless to remain the political darling of a fickle public, he died having successfully earned a place in literary history renowned for his artistic, influential and enduring comedy.