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An AQA/Edexcel A Level Teacher’s Guide to Restoration Comedy

Victoria Elliott | Wednesday April 02, 2014

Categories: Hot Entries, EDEXCEL A Level English Literature, 6ET02, AQA A Level English Literature A, LITA3, AQA A Level English Literature B, LITB2, KS5 Archive, AQA A Level, EDEXCEL A Level

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Relevance for Syllabuses:

AQA LITA3 Love Through the Ages
Restoration Comedy is a key movement in the study of the theme of love in literature, partly because of its historical context in the history of theatre (women now allowed on stage), and partly because of its translation of romantic love into ‘realistic’ plots. It also sets up some of the key conventions which continue through to the present day.

AQA LITB2 Dramatic Genres
The current dramatic genre for the AS coursework in AQA LITB is ‘comedy’. Restoration Comedy forms an important bridge for comedy between the classical definition observed by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and the more modern definition, governed by humour and wit.

EDEXCEL 6ET02 Explorations in Drama
Restoration Comedy is a good choice for a drama text to study alongside Shakespeare; there is a good contrast in attitudes, themes and styles, despite a gap of less than 100 years.

Restoration Comedy is a term used to describe the comedies that were staged immediately after the ‘Restoration’ of Charles II to the throne in 1660, until about 1710. The conventions established at this time continued for most of the 18th century, developing in some ways but remaining broadly of the same type, as they developed into the comedies of manners. This guide will cover the historical context, the conventions of the plays, their typical characters and themes, and some examples of the genre, as well as giving teaching ideas throughout.

Contextual Matters

Historical Context

In the period 1648-1660 Britain underwent an ‘Interregnum’ - a period between monarchs. Charles I was executed at the end of the Civil War in 1649 and Oliver Cromwell, followed briefly by his son Richard, reigned as ‘Lord Protector’. The Civil War had been fought on largely religious grounds and the new Parliamentary regime were composed of Puritans – strict Protestants with a serious view of life,...

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