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Document Type

Article

Abstract

“Restoration Raillery: The Use of Witty Repartee to Gain Power within Gendered Spaces in Restoration London,” examines the creation of gendered spaces to gain political and social power through the use of satire and wit in poetry, theater, and the court of Charles II in Restoration London. During the Restoration period, mentions of wit and incivility in print and theatre increased over previous eras due to the heightened importance placed on wit as a tool to gain popularity within the court of Charles II. At the same time, witty repartee and well-executed satire provided political power to men within Parliament, who used satirical writings to undercut their opponents. For the first time in British history, the reinstatement of theatrical companies under Charles II allowed women to perform on stage as actresses and use wit to claim a place within the social hierarchy of London society. Linguistically clever men and women profited from the idolization of wit during the Restoration, as both parties gained more social power within these separate spaces. This paper utilizes varied primary sources from Restoration era London, including plays, treatises, essays, poems, and political tracts, to illustrate the rising importance of these qualities. Although the role of literary wit during this period has been studied, as well as the role of women in the theater, this paper explores from a fresh perspective how the use of satire and biting repartee culturally reshaped the gendered power structures of the period.