Critics, Values, and Restoration Comedy by John T. Harwood

By John T. Harwood

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Extra info for Critics, Values, and Restoration Comedy

Example text

Horner is (and in part by virtue of his very "wickedness") a wholly positive and creative comic hero, and . . much of the imagery of the play places him squarely on the side of health, of freedom, and most controversial of all, of honesty. 11 The Restoration comic hero does not turn the world of inherited rules upside down merely for the smutty or destructive fun of it. If he is self-consciously wicked, it is because the prevailing system has proved repressive of his élan vital and hence prompts him to demand more flexible and expressive forms.

279). " Even if the plays mirror the moral deformities of the age, they do nothing to correct them, and it is most likely that they fomented the vices they mirror. '' Collier's strictures on Restoration comedy have been elaborated at some length because they evaluate literature by a moral criterion, describe what the criterion is, and include nearly all the arguments and critical tactics which have been used to deprecate the plays, their authors, and Restoration society by subsequent critics. While later critics have not always been as lucid in presenting the moral measure by which they evaluate the plays, they have still used Collier's arguments.

Calhoun Winton, Charles Mann, Douglas Butler, and Stephen Smith contributed assistance that only each could have provided. Margie Simmons and Nancy Royer provided expert typing under difficult conditions. With such generous assistance from so many colleagues, I might reasonably expect that all present and future critics would accept all my conclusions. Modesty requires me to admit, however, that not one of my colleagues is fully persuaded by all parts of my argument, partly because of the nature of my argument and partly because of the nature of the problems I address.

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