The Rivals

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David Character Analysis

The servant to Acres, David has a provincial boy’s understanding of the world and sees the manor where he lives with Acres as the center of the world. He is treated by Acres a bit like a confidant, which is a sign of Acres’s own country simplicity. He has a commonsense fear of the practice of dueling and is terrified that his master will be killed in a duel.

David Quotes in The Rivals

The The Rivals quotes below are all either spoken by David or refer to David. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Sheridan and His World Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of The Rivals published in 1998.
Act 4, Scene 1 Quotes

I say then, it would be but civil in honour never to risk the loss of a gentleman.—Look'ee, master, this honour seems to me to be a marvellous false friend: ay, truly, a very courtier-like servant.—Put the case, I was a gentleman (which, thank God, no one can say of me;) well—my honour makes me quarrel with another gentleman of my acquaintance.—So—we fight. (Pleasant enough that!) Boh!—I kill him—(the more's my luck!) now, pray who gets the profit of it?—Why, my honour. But put the case that he kills me!—by the mass! I go to the worms, and my honour whips over to my enemy.

Related Characters: David (speaker), Squire Bob Acres, Sir Lucius O’Trigger
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:

Acres has written a challenge to Beverley with the encouragement of Sir Lucius, but has not yet sent it. His servant David is trying to convince him not to send the letter at all. As members of the lower classes did not settle difference through dueling, David brings his folksy common sense ideas to bear on the (rather ridiculous) upper-class tradition of dueling. Although David talks like someone from the country, he has sound logic on his side as he gives his speech exposing the futility of dying for an immaterial value like honor. In fact, his position seems even more rational because of his capability to use language clearly and humorously, without any pretentions to sounding like anyone other than himself.


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David Character Timeline in The Rivals

The timeline below shows where the character David appears in The Rivals. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 3, Scene 4
Language and Pretension Theme Icon
In his lodgings, Acres and his servant David discuss the changes Acres has made to his appearance. David says that those back at... (full context)
Language and Pretension Theme Icon
David leaves, and Acres practices dancing, but complains that although he is fine at dancing English... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
Language and Pretension Theme Icon
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
Acres’s servant David is trying to discourage his master from sending the letter challenging Beverley to a duel,... (full context)
Language and Pretension Theme Icon
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
Acres begins to get nervous about the duel and asks David if he really thinks he might die. David says he thinks it ten to one... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
Language and Pretension Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
Mrs. Malaprop, Fag, and David now burst into the room, Mrs. Malaprop shrieking incoherently about “suicide, parricide and simulation.” After... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
False Identities and Artifice Theme Icon
David runs up to Sir Anthony, screaming about murder. He tells Sir Anthony that Absolute is... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
Sir Anthony, David, Mrs. Malaprop, Lydia and Julia arrive, with David yelling for Sir Anthony to halt the... (full context)