Places: The School for Scandal

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1780

First produced: 1777

Type of work: Drama

Type of plot: Comedy of manners

Time of work: Eighteenth century

Places DiscussedLady Sneerwell’s dressing room

Lady School for Scandal, TheSneerwell’s dressing room. Despite the fact that the stage direction indicates that the first scene of the play takes place at Lady Sneerwell’s dressing table, the room in which the scene takes place is a large room used by fashionable ladies for waiting on their most confidential guests. Thus Lady Sneerwell uses her dressing room to converse with Snake in much the same way the men of the house would use the library.

Drawing room

Drawing room. Other scenes in Lady Sneerwell’s house are set in the typical drawing room of a fashionable house. For example, in act 2, scene 2, Sheridan presents the famous school for scandal in attendance in the drawing room. Drawing rooms were used purely for public purposes. It was here that a hostess would receive guests or where guests would gather before and after dinner. Usually they were among the larger rooms of the house and certainly the room in Lady Sneerwell’s house is big enough to handle her rather large group of scandalmongers.


Library. Joseph Surface’s library, in which the play’s most famous scene is set. Like women’s dressing rooms, libraries were places where men met their friends for personal visits. Usually, however, it was where they met their male friends, so the scene in which Joseph meets intimately with Lady Teazle has a special significance in its being set in the library.

BibliographyAuburn, Mark. Sheridan’s Comedies: Their Contexts and Achievements. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1977. Perhaps the best of the very few full-length studies of Sheridan and his work. First-rate discussion of The School for Scandal.Danziger, Marlies K. Oliver Goldsmith and Richard Brinsley Sheridan. New York: Frederick Unger, 1978. A good place to begin study of Sheridan and his work. Contains an excellent discussion of The School for Scandal and a useful bibliography.Loftis, John. Sheridan and the Drama of Georgian England. Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell, 1976. Carefully researched and rewarding study by a leading scholar in the field. Places Sheridan’s work firmly in the context of late eighteenth century theater and dispels many of the myths surrounding The School for Scandal. Highly recommended.Schiller, Andrew. “The School for Scandal: The Restoration Unrestored.” Publications of the Modern Language Association 71 (September, 1956): 694-704. In this classic article, Schiller attacks the idea that The School for Scandal recaptures the spirit and substance of Restoration comedy. Schiller considers The School for Scandal “a kind of bourgeois morality play.”Worth, Katharine. Sheridan and Goldsmith. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992. Worth is at her best in this slender but worthwhile book when discussing the plays of Sheridan and Goldsmith in the context of eighteenth century theatrical traditions and practices. Very good chapter on The School for Scandal.
Categories: Places