Friday, 16 August 2013

Plot of 'The School for Scandal'


‘The School for Scandal’ is a very skillfully constructed play. It has two separate plots which are linked together through the Teazles.

A close examination of the play will show that there are in fact three plots--- one, the marital relations of Peter and his Lady; second, the love of Charles and Maria and third, the arrival of Sir Oliver and his discovery of the true character of Joseph. One might almost add a forth- Lady Sneerwell’ attempt to secure Charles for himself. All these are cleverly woven together by the agency of the arch hypocrite Joseph who is equally at home in Sir Peter’s house and in the company of Lady Sneerwell.

Joseph is courting Maria; Joseph is making love to Lady Teazle; Joseph is plotting with Lady Sneerwell; Joseph is playing the false friend to Sir Peter; Joseph’s finger is in every pie.

          In the opening scene Snake and Lady Sneerwell acquaint us with the existing situation of affairs. Lady Sneerwell and Joseph are in league because Joseph desires Maria and her fortune, but Maria is in love with Charles whom Lady Sneerwell herself desires. Sir Peter is Maria’s guardian and has in the past held the same responsibility to the two Surfaces. Their uncle has now returned from India after an absence of fifteen years and wants to judge the characters of both his nephews. Charles is revealed as grateful and generous, Joseph as mean and hypocritical with the result that Uncle Oliver’s sympathies are towards Charles now for the hand of Maria.

          The Screen-Scene in this play has justly become famous as one of the most outstanding in English Comedy. In Joseph’s library, Lady Teazle arrives for an illicit foul meeting. When Sir Peter visits his library, Joseph puts the Lady behind a screen. She hears her husband refer to Joseph’s offer for Maria’s hand and is disillusioned. Charles arrives at this point and after a little more hides and seek with Sir Peter, Charles hearing that a little milliner is behind the screen, throws it down and reveals Lady Teazle. Joseph is now deeply in trouble. Lady Teazle now thinks much better of her husband and is reconciled to him.

          Joseph makes one more attempt to divide Maria and Charles by coming with a concocted story that Charles is entangled with Lady Sneerwell, but Snake comes in the way. Then Joseph stands completely exposed and Sir Oliver declares that Charles is his chosen nephew. The play ends with Joseph and Lady Sneerwell going together.

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