Write a note on Comedy of Manners in Modern British Drama.
The plot of the comedy of manners play revolves around the social lives of the elite upper class. The primary focus is relationships—courtships, marriages, and love affairs.
The important points in these plays are what one “should” or “should not” say, and how wittily and gracefully one says such things. This class of people is gently satirized by Coward and Wilde, who held in common an ambivalence about it.
The graceful elegance and carefree lifestyle—uncomplicated by such matters as work—were admired and envied by these two authors, who came from middle-class backgrounds and aspired to establish themselves in these circles. Oscar Wilde and Coward also disparaged these people for their hypocrisy and affectation, perhaps because they could never be truly “one of them.”
Wilde’s and Coward’s biographical information is somewhat similar. Both were young when they achieved success at their craft. Wilde was born into a middle-class, Irish Protestant family and entered aristocratic circles on the merits of his own education and wit. However, the end of his life was marked by sexual and legal scandal. Coward was born into the lower middle class in a London suburb. He began his career as a child actor and also created his own social position. His success continued throughout his life and he became accomplished in many other areas.