The Rivals

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Sir Lucius O’Trigger Character Analysis

An Irish baronet who has lost his land and home, but prizes his valor in duels and family honor above all else, Sir Lucius is carrying on a secret correspondence with “Delia.” He is encouraged by Lucy to believe that his secret lover is Lydia, whereas it is in fact Mrs. Malaprop. Lucius hopes to improve his fortunes by eventually revealing this love affair to the world and getting Mrs. Malaprop’s approval, thereby securing Lydia’s enormous fortune. He is extremely argumentative and sees little need to justify a challenge to fight a duel. Thus, he eggs Acres on to challenge Beverley, and provides no explanation when he himself challenges Absolute.

Sir Lucius O’Trigger Quotes in The Rivals

The The Rivals quotes below are all either spoken by Sir Lucius O’Trigger or refer to Sir Lucius O’Trigger. 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 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.

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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.

Act 3, Scene 4 Quotes

ACRES
But he has given me no provocation.
Sir LUCIUS
Now, I think he has given you the greatest provocation in the world. Can a man commit a more heinous offence against another than to fall in love with the same woman? Oh, by my soul! it is the most unpardonable breach of friendship.
ACRES
Breach of friendship! ay, ay; but I have no acquaintance with this man.
I never saw him in my life.
Sir LUCIUS
That's no argument at all—he has the less right then to take such a liberty.
ACRES
Gad, that's true—I grow full of anger, Sir Lucius!—I fire apace! Odds hilts and blades! I find a man may have a deal of valour in him, and not know it!

Related Characters: Squire Bob Acres (speaker), Sir Lucius O’Trigger (speaker), Captain Jack Absolute / Ensign Beverley
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

Acres has told Sir Lucius that the woman he was courting is now being pursued by another man, and Sir Lucius encourages him to challenge his rival for her affection to a duel. Both men have a flawed approach to the institution of dueling. Sir Lucius sees no reason why contradictory arguments should not do equally well to serve as the pretext for fighting a duel. Meanwhile, Acres is shocked at the idea of dueling a rival, which shows that he does not understand the institution of dueling that was expected of a gentleman. Yet because Acres wishes to seem like a gentleman and has no idea how to go about it, he trusts that Sir Lucius will guide him in the right direction. These two characters are meant to stand in for Captain Mathews, with whom Sheridan fought two duels. In one duel, Mathews conducted himself like a coward, and in the other he called for a duel without a sufficient cause and then brutally stabbed Sheridan several times.

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.

Act 5, Scene 3 Quotes

Sir LUCIUS
Upon my conscience, Mr. Acres, your valour has oozed away with a vengeance!
ACRES
Not in the least! Odds backs and abettors! I'll be your second with all my heart—and if you should get a quietus, you may command me entirely. I'll get you snug lying in the Abbey here; or pickle you, and send you over to Blunderbuss-hall, or anything of the kind, with the greatest pleasure.
Sir LUCIUS
Pho! pho! you are little better than a coward.
ACRES
Mind, gentlemen, he calls me a coward; coward was the word, by my valour!
Sir LUCIUS
Well, sir?
ACRES
Look'ee, Sir Lucius, 'tisn't that I mind the word coward—coward may be said in joke—But if you had called me a poltroon, odds daggers and balls——
Sir LUCIUS
Well, sir?
ACRES
I should have thought you a very ill-bred man.
Sir LUCIUS
Pho! you are beneath my notice.

Related Characters: Squire Bob Acres (speaker), Sir Lucius O’Trigger (speaker)
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Acres and Sir Lucius, the play’s two ungentlemanly combatants, show the distinct ways each lacks honor. Acres, who truly had been losing his nerve as the time to begin the duel approached, now says that it is not cowardice that keeps him from fighting, but rather the fact that Beverley has not shown up to the duel. In fact, he is perfectly in the right. Sir Lucius wishes for Acres to fight Faulkland without any cause, and it is not cowardice, but sound logic, that makes Acres refuse to do this. At the same time, Acres is a coward. When Sir Lucius insults Acres and calls him a coward, the only way to keep his honor is for Acres to challenge Sir Lucius to a duel, which he declines to do. By lampooning these two characters’ approach to dueling, Sheridan was attempting to shape the popular perception of his own two duels with Captain Mathews, who had behaved first as a coward and then as a man overly eager to fight. Note also that Sheridan includes more of Acres’s humorous oaths to further his ridiculous portrayal of the man.

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Sir Lucius O’Trigger Character Timeline in The Rivals

The timeline below shows where the character Sir Lucius O’Trigger appears in The Rivals. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Preface
Sheridan and His World Theme Icon
...and they are not gentlemen. He then addresses those critics who thought his portrayal of Sir Lucius O’Trigger reflected anti-Irish sentiment, saying that he hopes that their feeling of offense deepened their... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
False Identities and Artifice Theme Icon
Language and Pretension Theme Icon
...to serve as her niece’s 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... (full context)
False Identities and Artifice Theme Icon
...been given while serving as a messenger for Acres, Ensign Beverley, Lydia, Mrs. Malaprop, and Sir Lucius O’Trigger. She has acted simple and uncalculating, but really she is gaming them all. She... (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 her guise of being a simple messenger. Sir... (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... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 4
False Identities and Artifice Theme Icon
Language and Pretension Theme Icon
Courtship and Generational Conflict Theme Icon
Sir Lucius , a friend of Acres, enters and asks why Acres has come to Bath. Acres... (full context)
Sheridan and His World Theme Icon
Language and Pretension Theme Icon
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
Sir Lucius asks if Acres’s rival has taken his place unfairly, to which Acres unthinkingly agrees. Sir... (full context)
Language and Pretension Theme Icon
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
Acres says he feels as though he is discovering his own valor as Sir Lucius works him up, but Sir Lucius responds that it is proper to be calm when... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
False Identities and Artifice Theme Icon
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
...reads the letter, then asks if Acres really intends to fight Beverley. Acres replies that Sir Lucius has convinced him to. When Absolute wonders what he, Absolute, has to do with this... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
Sir Lucius is strolling on the North Parade, hoping to run into Absolute and challenge him to... (full context)
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
Sir Lucius approaches Absolute and says he begs to differ with him. When Absolute asks what about,... (full context)
Sheridan and His World Theme Icon
False Identities and Artifice Theme Icon
Language and Pretension Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Courtship and Generational Conflict Theme Icon
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
...Absolute explains that Lydia has rejected him now that she knows his true identity and Sir Lucius has challenged him to a duel for no apparent reason. He says he needs Faulkland... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
False Identities and Artifice Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
...him to act so insanely, then rushes off to meet Absolute for the duel with Sir Lucius . (full context)
Language and Pretension Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
...it, but Mrs. Malaprop objects that this is not their place. Then David reveals that Sir Lucius is involved as well, and Mrs. Malaprop exclaims that they must hurry to stop the... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
False Identities and Artifice Theme Icon
...screaming about murder. He tells Sir Anthony that Absolute is headed to a duel with Sir Lucius , and Sir Anthony angrily exclaims at being tricked again, as the two set off... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
Sheridan and His World Theme Icon
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
Sir Lucius and Acres are awaiting their opponents in King’s-Mead-Fields. Sir Lucius is coaching Acres in the... (full context)
False Identities and Artifice Theme Icon
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
Sir Lucius greets Absolute and Faulkland, whom he assumes is Beverley. He says that he sees that... (full context)
Sheridan and His World Theme Icon
False Identities and Artifice Theme Icon
Language and Pretension Theme Icon
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
...of his, and that he is prepared to fight both as Absolute and as Beverley. Sir Lucius counts this as lucky, since now Acres will be able to fight after all. Acres... (full context)
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
...combatants. Sir Anthony demands to know how Absolute got involved in a duel. Absolute says Sir Lucius called him out without explanation, to which Sir Lucius responds that Absolute insulted his honor. (full context)
False Identities and Artifice Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
...will not be killed. Mrs. Malaprop urges Lydia to speak, but before she can respond Sir Lucius says he can explain Lydia’s silence. Lydia interrupts him to ask what he means. Addressing... (full context)
False Identities and Artifice Theme Icon
Courtship and Generational Conflict Theme Icon
...to Lydia, saying he would rather remain a bachelor than fight for a woman. But Sir Lucius persists, saying that he wonders if Lydia will deny her own handwriting and pulls out... (full context)
Sheridan and His World Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Gentlemanly Honor and Dueling Theme Icon
Sir Lucius wishes the couples good luck and Acres promises to put together a party for them.... (full context)