Beaux Stratagem And Divorce

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The Beaux Stratagem is a play that places a pair of presentable yet impoverishedLondon gentlemen, named Aimwell and Archer, in the English country inn atLichfield. Due to the laws of this time Aimwell, as the younger son, has beendenied his opportunity to share in the family fortune. His plan at the inn is toassume his older brothers identity and improve his chances of marrying awealthy woman her fortune. His friend, Archer, has agreed to act as his servanton the condition that he would get half of what Aimwell gains from his venture.

After some dalliance with the innkeeper, Bonniface, and his daughter Cherry,Aimwell sets his sights on Dorinda, the wealthy daughter of Lady Bonntiful, alocal widow of high reputation. Her son, Squire Sullen, has been wrongly matchedin a prearranged marriage to a beautiful woman with no inclination to share hishunting and drinking lifestyle. Mrs. Sullen is fed up with the marriage and hasprepared a trap to make Sullen jealous by flirting with French Count. Theflirtation is solely for her husbands benefit, but as Aimwell woos the youngDorinda, Archer makes advances to the cautiously receptive Mrs. Sullen, who isquite taken by Archer. One evening at the inn where Sullen is in search ofdrinking companions, a band of thieves plot with Bonniface to rob LadyBonntifuls home on the assumption that the women are alone and unprotected.

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Cherry, who has overheard the their discussion, has Aimwell vanquish thethieves. He, along Archer, stops the robbery and locks up the thieves. All thewhile this is happening, Sir Charles Freeman arrives at the inn and is escortedby a drunken Sullen to the house where Aimwell and Archer continue theiradvances on Dorinda and Mrs. Sullen. Freeman brings news that Aimwellsbrother has died making him a lord. Aimwell can now legitimize a marriage toDorinda, with his new stature and a love that has grown to be real rather thanfake. Sir Charles persuades Sullen into a divorce by mutual consent and toreturn the dowry that was more important than his wife. Aimwell and Dorindamarry, and Mrs. Sullen is free to accept the advances of Archer. Farquharsviews on divorce were ahead of their time. The subject of divorce wascontroversial and strictly forbidden in polite company. Laws were such that inthe rare event that a couple was granted a divorce , a woman was neither allowedto remarry or make claim to her husbands finances. The Beaux Stratagem endswith the divorce of Squire Sullen and his wife through mutual consent. Mrs.

Sullens indignation at her treatment by Sullen seems very rebellious for itstime and prescient of the modern womans assertion of her rights. In fact,Fraquhar wrote The Beaux Stratagem not as an early womans liberties but as acall for the liberalization of the divorce laws, this may be due to his ownunhappy marriage.

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