Places: The Conscious Lovers

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1723

First produced: 1722

Type of work: Drama

Type of plot: Sentimental

Time of work: Early eighteenth century

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places DiscussedBevil’s house

Bevil’s Conscious Lovers, Thehouse. London home of Sir John Bevil. Contrasts in the play may be seen in the different lodgings of the characters since all the scenes but one take place indoors. Sir John Bevil’s house is the house of a wealthy merchant replete with a full staff of servants. It is a house designed for practical uses and plain taste. Much of the comedy in the play comes from the scenes with servants, especially Tom and Phillis.

Indiana’s house

Indiana’s house. Home of Indiana and Lucinda, a small, simple dwelling that fronts the street in Charing Cross. When Mr. Sealand enters the house searching for Indiana he has no difficulty finding her. Nevertheless, Indiana’s house, despite her state of relative poverty, is a genteel dwelling suitable for one of her class. It is not a dwelling of the lower classes such as would have been common in the historical London of the day.

*St. James Park

*St. James Park. Large London park. Only one scene is set out of doors. The setting of act 4, scene 2, is the fashionable Mall area of St. James Park. The Mall was a long tract in St. James that was formerly used for playing pall-mall. By the time of this play it was known as a fashionable park used for walking, for meeting lovers, and for displaying the latest fashions. It is often confused with Pall Mall, another park close by.

BibliographyAitken, G. A. Introduction to Richard Steele, edited by G. A. Aitken. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1968. An introduction to a collection of Richard Steele’s plays. Section 9 focuses on The Conscious Lovers, providing a production history and accounts of early performances, and a discussion of the eighteenth century philosophical debates about the play.Bernbaum, Ernest. The Drama of Sensibility. Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1958. Traces eighteenth century English drama from the rakish Restoration comedy to the sentimental comedy exemplified by Richard Steele’s plays. Discusses The Conscious Lovers as a cultural artifact and provides interesting information about the play’s debt to Terence.Loftis, John. Comedy and Society From Congreve to Fielding. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1959. Discusses the changes in English comedy resulting from social upheavals in eighteenth century England. Places The Conscious Lovers in the middle of social change. Treats the play as a comedy of ideas with a definite Whiggish bias and suggests that political ideas interfere with the dramatic development of the play.Loftis, John. Steele at Drury Lane. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1973. Detailed discussion of The Conscious Lovers. Discusses the play as the culmination of Steele’s efforts to reform the English stage. Examines the play’s origins and production history, analyzes the controversy over the play, and defines sentimental comedy as a genre best exemplified by The Conscious Lovers.Steele, Richard. The Conscious Lovers. Edited and with an introduction by Shirley Strum Kenny. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1968. The introduction places the play in its cultural, historical, philosophical, and theatrical contexts. Describes the play as a moral comedy that features good-natured characters and shows the influence of Richard Steele’s work on the plays of Oliver Goldsmith and Richard Sheridan.
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