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The Provoked Wife
In this late Restoration comedy Vanbrugh not only pushes the unhappily married couple, which had been good for no more than a raucous subplot in earlier comedies of manners, centre-stage he also makes the audience sympathise with the wife: The only thing Sir John and Lady Brute agree on is that they ought not to have married each other; now he spends his time in drunken debauchery with his cronies, while she tries to withstand the advances of her admirer Constant. After a series of farcical accidents involving cross-dressing and the eternal lover-in-the-wardrobe, the couple end where they began. Since the scene in which Sir John disguises as a clergyman was deemed immoral and profane, an alternative scene (in its way equally profane) was written, in which he disguises as his own wife. This edition provides both versions and discusses the plays continuing popularity on the stage.