The Rivals

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A maid in the household of Mrs. Malaprop and Lydia, Lucy is a master manipulator. Charged with carrying letters between different courting pairs, Lucy pretends to be simpleminded in order to gain the trust of her social superiors and elicit gifts and tips from them. She is especially flirtatious with Sir Lucius, who she tricks into believing he is corresponding with Lydia, whereas actually the letters he receives are from Mrs. Malaprop.

Lucy Quotes in The Rivals

The The Rivals quotes below are all either spoken by Lucy or refer to Lucy. 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 1, Scene 2 Quotes

LYDIA
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.
LUCY
O burn it, ma'am! the hair-dresser has torn away as far as Proper Pride.
LYDIA
Never mind—open at Sobriety.—Fling me Lord Chesterfield’s Letters.—Now for 'em.

Related Characters: Lydia Languish (speaker), Lucy (speaker)
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

Sir Anthony has come to call and Lydia and Lucy expect him and Mrs. Malaprop to come up to the room. Knowing that these two older people will disapprove of the sentimental literature that Lydia reads, she and Lucy hide the books she likes to read inside decoy books, which are all dull works about proper morality. Lydia is actually interested in books about love, sex, and adventure. Roderick Random, for instance, is a novel about a young man who is not treated like a gentleman because he is the son of a gentleman and lower-class woman. He eventually inherits a fortune and is able to convince a woman to marry him without her guardian’s permission. The older people who hope to control Lydia’s choice of a husband see these books as bad influences, which will make her forget her proper role as a woman.

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Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

Sir LUCIUS
[Reads.] Sir—there is often a sudden incentive impulse in love, that has a greater induction than years of domestic combination: such was the commotion I felt at the first superfluous view of Sir Lucius O'Trigger.—Very pretty, upon my word.—Female punctuation forbids me to say more, yet let me add, that it will give me joy infallible to find Sir Lucius worthy the last criterion of my affections. Delia. Upon my conscience! Lucy, your lady is a great mistress of language. Faith, she's quite the queen of the dictionary!—for the devil a word dare refuse coming at her call—though one would think it was quite out of hearing.

Related Characters: Sir Lucius O’Trigger (speaker), Mrs. Malaprop / Delia, Lucy
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

Lucy has just delivered a letter from “Delia” to Sir Lucius, whom she has deceived to believe that Delia is Lydia’s pseudonym, when it is actually Mrs. Malaprop’s. The situation provides a perfect study of the ease with which a practiced deceiver like Lucy can manipulate two people who are not perceptive about the world around them. Mrs. Malaprop, besides being unaware that she makes a fool of herself through her scrambled use of language, does not realize that the pseudonym “Delia” is actually a scrambled version of the name “Lydia,” which will lead Sir Lucius to assume he is corresponding with the niece, not the aunt.

Sir Lucius, on the other hand, puts no effort into trying to understand the letter he has received. Although it is garbled, her meaning can be sussed out. Mrs. Malaprop compares her current feelings to Sir Lucius to her feelings during her “years of domestic combination,” by which she means the years of her marriage. Although the language is unconventional, it is only because Sir Lucius is determined to understand the letter as he wants to and not for what it actually says that he fails to understand this clear evidence that he is not corresponding with a young girl who has never been married before, but with her older, widowed aunt.

LUCY
Nay, Sir Lucius, I thought you wa'n't rich enough to be so nice!
Sir LUCIUS
Upon my word, young woman, you have hit it:—I am so poor, that I can't afford to do a dirty action.—If I did not want money, I'd steal your mistress and her fortune with a great deal of pleasure.—However, my pretty girl, [Gives her money] here's a little something to buy you a ribbon; and meet me in the evening, and I'll give you an answer to this. So, hussy, take a kiss beforehand to put you in mind. [Kisses her.]

Related Characters: Sir Lucius O’Trigger (speaker), Lucy (speaker), Lydia Languish
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

Lucy is pretending to be naïve to gain Sir Lucius’s trust and get information from him that might prove useful to her in the future. She understands that he wants to think of her as a simple girl who trusts and likes him enough to flirt with him. She also pretends to be surprised that he is such a gentleman and will not run off with Lydia without getting Mrs. Malaprop’s permission first. Of course, she understands that Lydia loses part of her fortune if she marries without her aunt’s permission, but she pretends that such matters are over her head. She succeeds in tricking him, and gets him to reveal his motivations in courting Lydia. He shows that, far from being disinterested in Lydia’s money, it is an important reason for his courtship of her.

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Lucy Character Timeline in The Rivals

The timeline below shows where the character Lucy appears in The Rivals. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Language and Pretension Theme Icon
...Thomas does not want to give his up. Then the two men spot Absolute and Lucy, Lydia Languish’s maid. Thomas notices that Absolute is paying Lucy money. Meanwhile, Fag rushes off... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Language and Pretension Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Lucy enters Lydia’s dressing room and reports on the outcome of her search for books for... (full context)
Language and Pretension Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Courtship and Generational Conflict Theme Icon
Lucy now enters to tell Lydia that Sir Anthony has arrived. Julia departs, and Lydia and... (full context)
False Identities and Artifice Theme Icon
Language and Pretension Theme Icon
...guardian, because Lydia has discovered that she is corresponding with Sir Lucius. She wonders if Lucy has betrayed her, but reflects that “had she been one of your artificial ones, I... (full context)
False Identities and Artifice Theme Icon
After Mrs. Malaprop has left, Lucy goes over all the tips and presents she has been given while serving as a... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
False Identities and Artifice Theme Icon
Language and Pretension Theme Icon
Courtship and Generational Conflict Theme Icon
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
Lucy is out on the street looking for Sir Lucius. When she finds him, she assumes... (full context)
False Identities and Artifice Theme Icon
Sir Lucius leaves and Fag approaches. Lucy continues to pretend simplicity, but Fag tells her to be straight with him, then reprimands... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
False Identities and Artifice Theme Icon
Language and Pretension Theme Icon
...Absolute had sent to Lydia in his character as Beverley. Under his breath, Absolute curses Lucy for betraying him to Mrs. Malaprop. He then reads the letter aloud, stopping at points... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
False Identities and Artifice Theme Icon
Courtship and Generational Conflict Theme Icon
...Sir Lucius greets this news with scorn, saying he is unsure whether Mrs. Malaprop or Lucy was the author of the trick against him, but adding that he forfeits his claim... (full context)