Beaux Stratagem And Divorce

The Beaux Stratagem is a play that places a pair of presentable yet impoverished

London gentlemen, named Aimwell and Archer, in the English country inn at

Lichfield. Due to the laws of this time Aimwell, as the younger son, has been
denied his opportunity to share in the family fortune. His plan at the inn is to
assume his older brotherís identity and improve his chances of marrying a
wealthy woman her fortune. His friend, Archer, has agreed to act as his servant
on the condition that he would get half of what Aimwell gains from his venture.

After some dalliance with the innkeeper, Bonniface, and his daughter Cherry,

Aimwell sets his sights on Dorinda, the wealthy daughter of Lady Bonntiful, a
local widow of high reputation. Her son, Squire Sullen, has been wrongly matched
in a prearranged marriage to a beautiful woman with no inclination to share his
hunting and drinking lifestyle. Mrs. Sullen is fed up with the marriage and has
prepared a trap to make Sullen jealous by flirting with French Count. The
flirtation is solely for her husbandís benefit, but as Aimwell woos the young

Dorinda, Archer makes advances to the cautiously receptive Mrs. Sullen, who is
quite taken by Archer. One evening at the inn where Sullen is in search of
drinking companions, a band of thieves plot with Bonniface to rob Lady

Bonntifulís home on the assumption that the women are alone and unprotected.

Cherry, who has overheard the their discussion, has Aimwell vanquish the
thieves. He, along Archer, stops the robbery and locks up the thieves. All the
while this is happening, Sir Charles Freeman arrives at the inn and is escorted
by a drunken Sullen to the house where Aimwell and Archer continue their
advances on Dorinda and Mrs. Sullen. Freeman brings news that Aimwellís
brother has died making him a lord. Aimwell can now legitimize a marriage to

Dorinda, with his new stature and a love that has grown to be real rather than
fake. Sir Charles persuades Sullen into a divorce by mutual consent and to
return the dowry that was more important than his wife. Aimwell and Dorinda
marry, and Mrs. Sullen is free to accept the advances of Archer. Farquharís
views on divorce were ahead of their time. The subject of divorce was
controversial and strictly forbidden in polite company. Laws were such that in
the rare event that a couple was granted a divorce , a woman was neither allowed
to remarry or make claim to her husbandís finances. The Beaux Stratagem ends
with the divorce of Squire Sullen and his wife through mutual consent. Mrs.

Sullenís indignation at her treatment by Sullen seems very rebellious for its
time and prescient of the modern womanís assertion of her rights. In fact,

Fraquhar wrote The Beaux Stratagem not as an early womanís liberties but as a
call for the liberalization of the divorce laws, this may be due to his own
unhappy marriage.