The Rivals

The Rivals Quotes and Analysis

"Here, my dear Lucy, hide these books. Quick, quick!—Fling Peregrine Pickle under the toilet—throw Roderick Random into the closet—put The Innocent Adultery into The Whole Duty of Man—thrust Lord Aimworth under the sofa—cram Ovid behind the bolster—there—put The Man of Feeling into your pocket—so, so—now lay Mrs. Chapone in sight, and leave Fordyce's Sermons open on the table."


The society in which Lydia lives is extremely strict, and she knows that her aunt, Mrs. Malaprop, does not approve of her reading romantic novels, so when she hears Malaprop coming, she orders Lucy to hide the books and put out religious texts instead as a way of masking her independent spirit from her aunt.

"Zounds! sirrah! the lady shall be as ugly as I choose: she shall have a hump on each shoulder; she shall be as crooked as the crescent; her one eye shall roll like the bull's in Cox's Museum; she shall have a skin like a mummy, and the beard of a Jew—she shall be all this, sirrah!—yet I will make you ogle her all day, and sit up all night to write sonnets on her beauty."

Sir Anthony

This quote comes in Act 2, when Anthony Absolute tells Jack that he has picked his son's bride. When Jack tells his father that he does not accept the fact that he is choosing his wife, Anthony becomes incensed, and insists that he has the authority to choose whatever fate he wants for his son. This monologue shows Anthony's oppressive tendencies, his desire for his son to obey his commands at all costs.

"Love shall be our idol and support! we will worship him with a monastic strictness; abjuring all worldly toys, to centre every thought and action there."


Jack says this to Lydia in Act 3 to convince her that he is only concerned with love and not money. Lydia wants desperately to eschew her fortune in favor of impoverished romance, and Jack, pretending to be Ensign Beverley, tells her that that is precisely what they will do.

“Had I a thousand daughters, by Heaven! I'd as soon have them taught the black art as their alphabet!”


Anthony says this to Mrs. Malaprop, when she complains that Lydia is independent-minded because of her ability to read. He sympathizes with the fact that Malaprop has a daughter who can think for herself, and suggests that he would never let his daughter learn to read if he had them. This is a darkly comic line about the restrictions placed on young women in society.

"There, sir, an attack upon my language! what do you think of that?—an aspersion upon my parts of speech! Was ever such a brute! Sure, if I reprehend any thing in this world it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs!"

Mrs. Malaprop

As she and Jack Absolute read a letter to Lydia from "Ensign Beverley," Malaprop is disturbed to see that he makes reference to her misuse of language and her pretentious manner of speech. The irony is, even as she expresses her anger about this depiction, she misuses many words.

"Through all the drama—whether damned or not—
Love gilds the scene, and women guide the plot."

The Epilogue

Following the action of the play, a woman speaks directly to the audience, and tells them that all that they have seen leads to love, which "gilds the scene." Love sweetens all of the dismay and unhappiness that the audience has witnessed. Additionally, she says, women control the world in that they are the ones who stir love in the hearts of men.

"'Tis safest in matrimony to begin with a little aversion."

Mrs. Malaprop

When Lydia tells Mrs. Malaprop that she wants to marry for love, Malaprop says this, suggesting that love has no part in marriage. It is a comical line, because the audience is meant to see that aversion should not be part of such an important union as marriage, yet Malaprop suggests that aversion is an important part of marriage.

"Never say more than is necessary"


This is a rather ironic line, spoken by Jack to his servant Fag. He tells Fag not to speak more than is necessary, yet throughout the play we see that often the conflict is a result of people not speaking up or telling the whole truth. In this particular moment, Jack is telling his servant to be discreet when discussing his master's deception (his double identity in Bath) with other people.

"As my faith has once been given to you, I never will barter it with another.—I shall pray for your happiness with the truest sincerity; and the dearest blessing I can ask of Heaven to send you will be to charm you from that unhappy temper, which alone has prevented the performance of our solemn engagement. All I request of you is, that you will yourself reflect upon this infirmity, and when you number up the many true delights it has deprived you of, let it not be your least regret, that it lost you the love of one who would have followed you in beggary through the world!"


After Faulkland lies to Julia, telling her that he has been exiled, in order to test the sincerity of her love, she becomes angry at his deception and calls off their engagement. Before she leaves, she wishes him the best and asks him to think about how hurtful he has been.

"Then let us study to preserve it so: and while Hope pictures to us a flattering scene of future bliss, let us deny its pencil those colours which are too bright to be lasting.—When hearts deserving happiness would unite their fortunes, Virtue would crown them with an unfading garland of modest hurtless flowers; but ill-judging Passion will force the gaudier rose into the wreath, whose thorn offends them when its leaves are dropped!"


The final line of the play. After all of the lovers have been reunited and the duel has been called off, Julia urges them all to love one another with care and thoughtfulness, to ensure the endurance of their marriages.