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Sisterhood, Brotherhood, and Equality of the Sexes in the Restoration Comedies of Manners

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Nancy L. Tippetts

The issue of gender equality in the Restoration Comedies of Manners (1664-1707) has been a source of increasing irritation to critics of English literature. This study offers a possible compromise, if not a reconciliation, between the assertion of equality adopted during the Restoration and the eighteenth century, and the currently popular stance denouncing that position. In an analysis of representative plays, Dr. Tippetts shows how same-sex relationships moderate the influence of a rigid patriarchal hierarchy and undercut male domination just enough to allow the illusion of equality to flourish.