“Careless Lovers” by Edward Ravenscroft is a comedy that puts forth the wrongs of a society and displays the irony of people’s emotions and morals. It demonstrates how people are led away from the rights that are expected and what is the price they pay later.
The characters of the play show how perverted and sometimes unacceptable society is. The wealthy citizen represents power and the ability to rule. The prostitute represents social immorality, in contrast to the devoted lovers, who proclaim their love and attachment no matter what. Even though the idea of the pay is to show how the human society is filled with negatives, it is made out to be comedy in order to have a humorous spin on the reality. What influenced the author to write this play was the urge to denounce the allegations on a character (Eggleston 134). From the beginning the play seems chaotic and this represents the society and inability to find the goals in life. Then, it is shown, how people connect through love and what it leads to. The general theme of the play is the witty understanding of the humorously negative circumstances but at the same time unity of two people. Hilaria is sure that Careless loves her and acknowledges that by saying (Canfield 1027). The play summarizes the emotions that women have in relation to their marriage and love in general. When Hillaria talks to her uncle she says that she is just as able to choose a husband as anyone else and in fact she is the only one who can do it properly. This shows how strong and selective women really are and that humor is a big part of their understanding when someone poorly attempts to decide for them. The names are also very significant in the play, as they demonstrate a part of the character and the viewer or reader already expects certain character trains from a person.
The act is significant to the whole play as it shows how women act amongst each other. When Hillaria and Jacinta talk about men and their qualities it is obvious what they think and what the most valuable attributes are to them. The relevance of Act III is best viewed as having an effect on gender and politics. The play addresses the conventional limits that surround politics based on gender and class. Ravenscroft illustrates how society is full of people with different views and life morals. He brings to the fore characters’ personalities as tricky servants, gay lovers, prostitutes, irrational parents, and serious lovers among many more. Children use knowledge to outsmart their parents who appear embarrassed and foolish. Careless and Hillaria form one of the sets of the young lovers albeit having been antagonistic in their earlier encounter. Lovell and Jacinta complete the other set though as opposed to the first pair, they are seriously in love (Eggleston 136). Both Toby and Beatrice who were supposed to make up the third pair failed to turn up due to the irony of disguise that persisted throughout the Act (Eggleston 137). The third act shows how deceitful life can be. Appearances often bring about the wrong decision and this act demonstrates how desperate people are to make choices. Also it is used to introduce the new role of women in the family, especially the role they play in marriages. This role comes out sarcastically because in some instances men like De Boastado are made to act foolishly. The Act played two roles, having been written for entertainment and to teach moral lessons the author wanted to pass to society. The author captured the anxiety of the audience and the readers by creating a comedy. Irony and sarcasm keep both the reader and the audience glued to the emotions and sarcasm of the play while at the same time digesting the message (Eggleston 137). Women are shown as strong and selective and the fact that history has always given power to men is mocked. It seems that men being separate from a woman know the deepest thoughts and emotions of what women want. This view is reinforced when Hillaria says that husband and wife are not one entity, it is two separate people. She questions how they can be one if it is impossible for the husband and wife to be in two places separately while they are one. By reversing the role of women in the society, Ravenscroft underlines the value of women.
Edward Ravenscroft in a justified way criticizes the community. Some characters have personalities that do not match with what the society appreciates. Prostitutes pursue some of them while others are interested in stabbing others to the death. The author wanted to pinpoint the wrongs in society using humor and irony. He creates an atmosphere where people’s morals are very transparent but at the same time he tells the truth on matters that were perceived to be sensitive when the play was written.
Canfield, Douglas. The Broadview Anthology of Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century Drama. New York, United States: Broadview Press, 2001. Print.
Eggleston, Robert. “Convention as Commentary in Edward Ravenscroft’s The Careless Lovers.” Lumen: Selected Proceeding from the Canadian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies 25 (2006). Print.