Theme Of Gossip In School For Scandal

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In Richard Sheridan’s play School for Scandal, the use of gossip is deliberately intended to serve as a warning. A warning to the reader, that if they slump into such shameful acts they may become victim to its power. One of the plots in Sheridan’s play involves the test of two brothers, Joseph, and Charles Surface, by their Uncle, Sir Oliver Surface, whom has recently returned from a considerable time abroad. Sir Oliver’s purpose for the test is to expose the true character of his nephews, for upon returning to England he has only been told of the way in which they conduct themselves. Prior to the emergence of Sir Oliver’s plan, gossip has played a key contributor to the position of the two nephews. Joseph is highly regarded and considered …show more content…
What is prominent about their plot however is the information given about the two brothers. There is hardly a moment when either Charles, or Joseph is not brought up. Brought up being the key phrase. The two brothers are subject to much attention, most of which is rumors and speculation by Lady Sneerwell and her cohorts. With so much being told about the brothers from varying characters, all with different opinions. One must read the text in its entirety to come towards a truthful conclusion. Sheridan’s use of gossip is brilliant, in that it propels the plot forward while leaving the reader with enough speculation to continue on. The decision to use hearsay rather than simply show what is taking place, helps not only propel the plot but also classify characters as well. It groups characters such as Sir Oliver and Charles among the just, and honest. While classifying characters such as Lady Sneerwell and Joseph as shady, plotting villains. This gives the reader a lesson that gossiping is a slanderous, petty act, and that only weak people of poor character partake in the act. By making assumptions, information is skewed and can be misinterpreted as a false truth. Sheridan’s use of gossip is deliberate, it is used to aware the reader of the pettiness of gossip and the outcomes it can have. By the conclusion of School for Scandal those whom have participated in gossip are shown in a negative light, with many consequences to their actions. While characters such as Charles, who has proven to be a man of good character is rewarded. This simple message of ethics and morals is powerful, because it not only helps propel the plot, but it also makes the reader question him or herself. How one conducts themselves, and if they are of the poor or positive character. For in the words of the comedic genius Benny Hill, “you must never assume, for you make an ass out of

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