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Theme of Mistaken Identity in the Rivals


The Theme

The theme of mistaken identity is centred on the character and role of Captain Absolute. In his disguise as Ensign Beverly, he is mistaken by Lydia, his girlfriend, Mrs Malaprop, Lydia's aunt and Sir Anthony, his father. The theme of mistaken identity hinges on the love relationships among the various characters. It reveals the aspects of their character and heightens the comedy in the play. Lydia is in love with Ensign Beverly and vows to marry him despite the protestation of her aunt who prefers in her preference for Captain Absolute. Ironically, both Mrs Malaprop and Lydia are referred to the same individual, though known to them in different capacities i.e to Lydia as Beverly and to Mrs Malaprop as Captain Absolute.

How the Theme Aided the Plot

The issue of mistaken identy throws light on the relationship between Bob Acres and Captain Absolute, Acres despises Ensign Beverly, his rival for Lydia's love and assisted Captain Absolute in handling the situation without realizing that Beverly is Absolute. The incident confirms Acres love for Lydia, accounts for the rivalry between the two friends and contributes to the development of the plot.

The Author

This is a drama by Richard Sheridan, an Irish poet and playwright who lived between the year 1751 and 1816.

"It concerns the romantic difficulties of Lydia Languish, who is determined to marry for love and into poverty. Realizing this, the aristocratic Captain Jack Absolute woos her while claiming to be Ensign Beverley. But her aunt, Mrs. Malaprop, will not permit her to wed a mere ensign, and Lydia will lose half her fortune if she marries without her aunt’s permission." (According to britannica.com)
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Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings flying)
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