Comedy of Manners. a witty. intellectual signifier of dramatic comedy depicts and frequently satirizes the manners and mannerisms of a modern-day society. A Comedy of Manners is concerned with societal use and the inquiry of whether or non characters meet certain societal criterions. Often the regulating societal criterion is morally fiddling but demanding.
The secret plan of such a comedy. normally concerned with an illicit love matter or likewise disgraceful affair. is low-level to the play’s toffee atmosphere. witty duologue. and acrid commentary on human idiosyncrasies. The Comedy of Manners. which was normally written by sophisticated writers for members of their ain clique or societal category. has historically thrived in periods and societies that combined material prosperity and moral latitude.
Such was the instance in antediluvian Greece when Menander ( c. 342–c. 292 BC ) inaugurated New Comedy. the precursor of comedy of manners. Menander’s smooth manner. luxuriant secret plans. and stock characters were imitated by the Roman poets Plautus ( c. 254–184 BC ) and Terence ( 186/185–159 BC ) . whose comedies were widely known and copied during the Renaissance.
One of the greatest advocates of the comedy of manners was Moliere. who satirized the lip service and pretense of 17th-century Gallic society in such dramas as L’Ecole des femmes ( 1662 ; The School for Wives ) and Le Misanthrope ( 1666 ; The Misanthrope ) . In England. the comedy of manners flourished during the Restoration period. Although influenced by Ben Jonson’s Comedy of Humours. the Restoration Comedy of Manners was lighter. defter. and more vibrant in tone.
Dramatists declared themselves against affected humor and acquired follies and satirized these qualities in imitation characters with label-like names such as Sir Fopling Flutter ( in Sir George Etherege’s Man of Mode. 1676 ) and Tattle ( in William Congreve’s The Old Bachelor. 1693 ) . The chef-d’oeuvres of the genre were the witty. misanthropic. and aphoristic dramas of William Wycherley ( The Country-Wife. 1675 ) and William Congreve ( The Way of the World. 1700 ) .
In the late eighteenth century Oliver Goldsmith ( She Stoops to Conquer. 1773 ) and Richard Brinsley Sheridan ( The Rivals. 1775 ; The School for Scandal. 1777 ) revived the signifier.
The tradition of the elaborate. unreal plotting and aphoristic duologue was carried on by the Anglo-Irish dramatist Oscar Wilde in Lady Windermere’s Fan ( 1892 ) and The Importance of Being Earnest ( 1895 ) . In the twentieth century the Comedy of Manners reappeared in the witty. sophisticated drawing-room dramas of the British playwrights Noel Coward and Somerset Maugham and the Americans Philip Barry and S. N. Behrman