The School for Scandal

Human Nature in Sherdian and Burke College

The play The School for Scandal by Sheridan and Burke’s A Philosophical Enquiry explore human nature, and the complexities that emerge from social interactions, or perhaps more internally, through our own disposition. Sheridan’s satire took on the scandalmongering of the trendy London society of 1770 with stock characters, such as the flirt, the gossip, the wastrel, the bore, and the rich uncle, among others. In The School for Scandal, personified names, witty dialogue, and schemes all intertwine, creating a successful play. The thesis of this essay aims to compare both the play, more specifically the final act, and Burke’s Enquiry, and explore their similarities and their respective ways of portraying human emotion and human nature in their own ways.

Crucially, Burke raises an important explanation as to why humans act in the way that they do, due to his Philosophical Enquiry focusing on sympathy, and its effect on tragedy and imitation. He states that ‘the objects which in the reality would shock, are in tragically…the source of a very high species of pleasure' essentially claiming that any pain inflicted on a person will always trigger sympathy from a person, almost without realisation. Clearly, this idea is reflective of a...

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