Educated Male Characters

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Introduction to Character Type

The title "Educated Male" refers to students or to figures whose education is considered important in understanding their character development. Several characters in this collection speak with terminology specific to their fields of study, while others refer to their education as a way of promoting themselves. As noted elsewhere, education is a class determinant, which reflects language use between characters whose background only differs on the basis of education.

Academic terminology is used by Jack Rubrick, a Cambridge student enrolled in what would now be called mathematics and physics, and by Gradus, who is an expert in the classics. Rubrick, a character in George Colman's The Spleen (1776), employs mathematical metaphors whenever possible, to the point at which a friend comments upon it:

JACK RUBRICK. So you have been studying the Tacticks at the Hercules Pillars, while I have been cudgelling the Mathematicks at Cambridge. How we diverge, like rays, from the same centre! We walk through life together indeed, but seem hitherto, like parallel lines, destined never to meet. But I am heartily glad of this encounter.

MERTON. And I as heartily.---But by your boots and your language, Jack, I should imagine you to be just fresh from the University (Colman 4-5).

Likewise, grasping for words to communicate his passion, the stuffy scholar Gradus in Hannah Cowley's Who's the Dupe? (1779) employs strictly classical allusions, disillusioning his female audience, which had hoped for more romantic love-making. Further use of academic terminology and references to education take place in Reed's The Register Office (1761). The comic Captain Le Brush has obviously not profited from his "University Iddication", referring to "Pythogorus", "Sockratas" and "Pluto" (Reed 25-26). Also, the Scotchman is appalled that his ability to speak Latin is questioned, and recites a passage in that language.

The effects of a university education are noted in several plays, particularly in Colman's The Oxonian in Town (1770), in which Knowell is mocked for not having learned Irish over the course of his education. However, the crooks praise him for having more spirit than any other university man they have met. A more interesting social effect is the hierarchy between the refined Charles Manlove and his boorish brother Jack Nightshade in Cumberland's The Choleric Man (1774; published 1775). In Charles' speech to Jack, the former addresses his brother as "thou", while Jack uses "you", suggesting that Charles is more socially elevated than his brother simply because of his greater level of education. The theme of proper education as central to character development is pursued by Cumberland throughout the play.

Works Cited:

Colman, George. The Spleen. London: T. Becket, 1776. Literature Online. 8 August 2008.

Reed, Joseph. The Register Office. London: T. Davies, 1761. Literature Online. 8 August 2008.

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List of Plays

The Oxonian in Town (Colman)

The Spleen (Colman)

The Runaway (Cowley)

Who's the Dupe? (Cowley)

The Choleric Man (Cumberland)

The Register Office (Reed)

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©2008 Arden Hegele