The comedy of manners is a dramatic genre which flourished during the Restoration age and continued to be written even in the early years of the Eighteenth Century. Although the manners comedies are mainly sex-comedies dealing with the love-chase of gallants and ladies, this genre does not uniformly offer the same type of sentiments and ideas.With the changes in the socio-political background of the different periods in which they were written, the comedies undergo changes in their themes and conventions, modes of expression and responses to some basic issues of life. This work aims at an understanding of the ‘manners’ comedies in the context of the changing social context of the time. Concentrating my survey on the important plays of the major dramatists of the comedy of manners, those written between the restoration of Charles II to the throne of England and the days of Queen Anne, I have tried to examine in this work how the characters’ attitude to life and society in these plays, their responses to love and behaviour-patterns were conditioned by the changing socio-political events and philosophic ideas of the time. As some major plays of Thomas D’urfey, Aphra Behn and John Crowne throw valuable light on some aspects of individual’s relationship with society, I have included them in my study though their comedies do not precisely belong to the ‘manners’ genre. The present study probes into different phases of the individual’s relationship with society as represented in the Restoration comedy of manners which continued to be written also in the early Eighteenth Century.
Partha Kumar Mukhopadhyay was an Associate professor of English at the Kidderpore Collage, Kolkata. A Fellow of U.W.A. he has authored and edited several books including NOVEL: THEORIES AND PRACTICES and SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE POST-COLONIAL INDIA ENGLISH FICTION. He delivered invitation lectures at the J.U. and Sambalpur University, Orissa.