sentimental comedy



  • A popular form of comedy in the 17th and 18th centuries. Moralisticand redolent with pathos, sentimental comedies were a reaction againstthe licentiousness of the Restoration stage; they appealed especiallyto the new middle-class audience, which included many women.

    Colley Cibber's Love's Last Shift (1696) is usuallyconsidered the first sentimental comedy. The leading exponent of thegenre in England was Richard Steele, whose final comedy and greatestsuccess, The Conscious Lovers, opened in 1722 at Drury Laneunder Cibber's management. The work was translated into German andFrench, giving impetus to the wave of sentimentality engulfing Europe.The French version of the genre, comédie larmoyante,was led by the dramatist Le Chaussée, whose offerings includedL'école des mères (1744) and La Gouvernante(1747).