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Both Sheridan and Goldsmith lamented the popularity of sentimental comedy in the later eighteenth century and wrote their witty and satirical plays (though never lascivious in the manner of Restoration comedies) to counteract the sentimental mode. The Rivals (1775) was a qualified success: the suave young officer who is `forced' by his father to marry the very girl to whom he is secretly engaged must always please; but first audiences were as uncertain as later critics about how to evaluate his neurotic friend Faulkland, ...

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