The School for Scandal


Richard Sheridan

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The School for Scandal: Epilogue Summary & Analysis

Lady Teazle returns to the stage to recite the epilogue. It is written in rhyming couplets, and each line has ten syllables (iambic pentameter). In the verse, Lady Teazle complains about the way the play ends for her character. She says that she is too young, pretty, and full of life to have to go and be quiet and moral in the countryside with her boring, older husband. She wants to be beautifully dressed and to socialize, play cards, and enjoy London. She says that she told this to the play’s author, and he joked that she ought to act in a tragedy about this fate. Lady Teazle says that the playwright told her that she was lucky to have had her storyline end so well, and to have the curtain go down at a moment when she seemed virtuous and could not mess things up again, as real people can.
Lady Teazle, like Charles, has resolved to treat her husband kindly and respectfully and to give up socializing with the gossips. This means that she will not ruin her reputation any further. The play does not characterize this as a perfectly happy ending, however, and in this odd turn at the end it suggests that to suppress young people’s wild and excessive behaviors before they grow old is a shame. Although a ruined reputation can have serious consequences, the play suggests that it might be worth risking the consequences to enjoy the pleasures of high society.
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