“The Even though Wycherley mad fun of these people

“The comedy of manner and
Restoration comedy can redefine literature’s personal and cultural meanings by
focusing attention on how information is created and transmitted, the
fundamental dynamic of our current moment of change” (Curtis, 93). Comedy
throughout history has been a way for people to come together and laugh at the
stupidity of human nature. Laughter and comedy have always been a way to bring
people together. Even though time changes, laughter does not. This paper will look
at multiple aspects of the restoration area paying specific attention to that
of comedy of manners. Looking at how William Wycherley’s The Country Wife
relates to today’s comedy, while also comparing the relations and changes of
the stage itself, and lastly how the culture of Restoration England relates to
that of today’s society.

   
Comedy of manners is a “form of comic drama that became popular in the
latter half of the seventeenth century in France and among English playwrights
during the Restoration. It emphasizes a cultivated or sophisticated atmosphere,
witty dialogue, and characters who concern with social polish is charming,
ridiculous or both” (Wilson, Goldfarb, 510). Comedy of manners also
concentrates on the conventions of the upper class, relating to aspects of
“gossip, adultery, and sexual escapades” (Wilson, Goldfarb, 236). Comedy of
manners was used to make fun of high society rather than the normal fools that
other playwrights were commonly using. Most of the playwrights at the time were
actually part of this high society which makes it super interesting. Even
though Wycherley mad fun of these people he was still in fact “a member of that
society, participating fully in all the vices and follies that he ridiculed as
a dramatist” (Wilson, 236). Unlike earlier playwrights who made fun of the
upper class without truly understanding them, Wycherley was actually a part of
this group bringing a better understanding and truth to these people. This type
of knowledge on a subject can bring more depth and humor to the comedy. Since
Wycherley understood this society so well he truly understood the wrongs and
flaws that were involved, allowing his comedy to be truly hilarious and real.
This understanding seems to be more successful than just poking fun without an
understanding. After some in-depth thinking and researching of comedy, there
seem to be many ideas of where comedy started and why it started but an article
was found with a super intriguing idea that relates to The Country Wife and
comedy today.

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This article talks about some of the ideas of why the genre of comedy
has been such a success from generation to generation. But the article from The
Atlantic states “You can’t make a joke without inserting a wicked twist, and
you can’t be a comedian without holding a small amount of power, for even a
short period of time, over the audience” also including the famous Mark Twain
quote “The secret source of humor itself is not joy, but sorrow. There is no
humor in heaven” (Khazan). Both of these quotes just show that there needs to
be an aspect of darkness to truly allow the comedy and lightness show through.
Wycherley showed the wrongs in his society by poking fun traits of humans that
are not truly laughable or enjoyable. This relates to today’s comedy in that
there is always some form of darkness involved. For example, in the play Stupid
Fucking Bird by Aaron Posner there are many jokes surrounding politics, sex,
racism, xenophobia, and other awful human traits. The character of Con
specifically states “Have you seen the world lately? I mean actually, actually
seen it? Rampant stupidity. Inconceivable greed. Legitimized fear-mongering and
xenophobia” (Posner, 27). But by putting a lighter quality on these subjects it
allows the audience to laugh at the joke but be pulled right back to how awful
these aspects of humans truly are. Wycherley also did this in The Country Wife
and was showing how awful his society was at the time but doing it through the
genre of comedy rather than drama because more people would rather laugh about
there issues then truly try to fix them. The language of The Country Wife is
definitely a time period piece but the use of comedy is still relatable today.

   
Theatre architecture is often forgotten about when it comes to the
theatre as a whole, many people just go to the theatre to watch plays and
musicals but forget about the stage itself. Throughout theatre history not only
have the playwrights and plays gone through changes but space has as well. The
restoration area of theatre was the true start of the inside proscenium arch
stage, which is normal for most theatre spaces in today’s society. Most people
think of a stage space with a proscenium arch but not keen to in the round
stages or the thrust stages. The stage during the restoration seems very
similar to many theaters to this day. The big difference is in the aspect of
the raked stage. Which is when the stage is slanted at an angle allowing the
audience to see better. Most stages and theatre nowadays appear to be more flat
(Wilson, 249). What may be found interesting is that it appears that many
theatre companies nowadays are trying to make the theatre space more personal
and putting theatre in more unique spaces, allowing the audience to experience
a more intimate event.

   
Studying the The Country Wife can allow the reader to experience and
learn what the people of that time were experiencing. The biggest aspect that
became clear was how women were treated. In todays society women have a lot
more independence then back in culture of Restoration England. Women were
treated as prizes and that they were expected to do what the men wanted them to
do. In The Country Wife, the character of Margery is controlled by Mr.
Pinchwife not being allowed to leave the house or marry who she wants to marry.
What is so interesting about this is Margery does not question her husband she
just goes along with it because that is what is expected of the women of this
time. 

    By
studying theatre one can learn so much of the culture of that time. How people
were viewed and how they viewed others. This paper looked at multiple aspects
of the restoration area paying specific attention to that of comedy of manners.
Looking at how William Wycherley’s The Country Wife relates to today’s comedy,
while also comparing the relations and changes of the stage itself, and lastly
how the culture of Restoration England relates to that of today’s society.