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|Two articles of interesting background to The Rivals...
Written by Arnie Perlstein
(2/26/2007 10:33 a.m.)
1. "Two Sources of 'The Rivals'", by Miriam Gabriel, in PMLA Vol. 43, #1, March 1928. Gabriel writes: "The outlines of the main plot of The Rivals Sheridan derived from [David] Garrick's Miss in her Teens (1747) and the motivation of the sub-plot from Colman's Deuce Is In Him (1793). For every character in the main plot of The Rivals, a counterpart may be found in Miss in Her Teens..." Gabriel then gives a list of those counterparts.
Gabriel states that while these extensive borrowings "substantiate the argument that Sheridan was an 'inveterate plagiarist'", she also opines that "Plagiarism, however, was an accepted part of the dramatic procedure of the day. Murphy, Cumberland, Foote, Garrick, and Colman borrowed every bit as extensively as Sheridan himself; the only difference being that they were less adroit in concealing their indebtedness, and in exploiting the possibilities of their pilfered material" Gabriel sees Sheridan in 1776 when he is writing The Rivals as "a young dramatist struggling for recognition" and so perceives it as natural that he would borrow from Garrick and Colman, who were "not only skilled producers, but were also favorite playwrights."
2. "Representation and Experimentation in the Major Comedies of Richard Brinsley Sheridan", by Christine S. Wiesenthal, 18th Century Studies, Vol. 25, No. 3, Spring 1992. The article covers all of Sheridan's famous plays, and not merely The Rivals, and discusses, at length, "the specific techniques and larger ramifications of Sheridan's play wiht comic language in The Rivals", with nearly four pagees of discussion specifically devoted to Mrs. Malaprop's verbalizations.
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