Restoration Comedy refers to English Comedies written during the Restoration period from 1660-1710. The re-opening of the theatres in 1660 after public stage performances had been banned for 18 years by the Puritan regime signalled a renaissance of English drama. Restoration comedy is notorious for its sexual licentiousness, a quality encouraged by Charles II personally and by the rakish aristocratic ethos of his court. English Drama witnessed great changes during Charles II reign. Women were introduced on stage for the first time and they were paid for the same, and theatre as a mode of entertainment and recreation was made fairly accessible to all. As a result of which, the theatre productions received a
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The figure of the ‘Rake Hero’ is an important and unique feature of Restoration comedies. The rake- hero can be understood as a descendant of earlier male comic characters who were rogues, as Birdsall points out, "shrewd, double-dealing rascals dedicated to the cause of their own freedom and prosperity" , but he can be seen to represent the times as he supplanted the traditional romantic hero in many of the age's theatrical productions. The Rake Hero was portrayed as unmarried, cynical, coarse but with the manners of a gentleman, witty, manipulative, and self-serving, one who tends to create his own brand of morality which include a belief in the open pursuit of sensual pleasure and a dismissal of marriage. According to Wilkinson, (his) "wit consists not so much in his defiance of traditional notions of right conduct, as in the casual and unruffled manner in which he expresses the 'shocking' sentiments" since "the first major requirement for a reputation for wit is the appearance of being in complete control of one's feelings and/or of one's circumstances, whether one is or not". These were reflected aptly in the most famous rake-heroes of the period, characters of Willmore, Lovemore and Horner.
Willmore, the rake-hero of The Rover, is cynical about love and is the most insightful of the characters when it comes to seeing through disguises; he