The Rivals


Richard Sheridan

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The Rivals: Epilogue Summary & Analysis

The actress playing Julia speaks the epilogue. It is written in rhyming couplets with ten syllables per line. The playwright, she reports, wanted the play to have a moral, but to her the moral is clear: it is that men’s happiness rests with women. This is true whether the man lives in the city or country, is a politician, peasant, sailor, soldier, or a widower remembering his wife. But those who judge cautiously understand that there is more to love than beauty, and men should appreciate level-headed, knowledgeable women who can guide and advise them.
The epilogue is another instance of Sheridan’s attempt to curry favor with the traditional moral authorities of his time. It also shows that he saw the best way to assert his conservative moral values was to show that he believed in the importance of women playing what was thought to be their proper role: to guide and help men in everything, be it a duel or merely day-to-day life.
Sheridan and His World Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Literary Devices