I also want to emphasize that in seeking to regulate relations of power and desire, and in ways that differ significantly, Dryden's plays attest to decorum's cultural constraints, yet they also and inevitably expose that which exceeds decorum, precisely because such relations must first be presented and recognized, albeit symbolically, before they can be renegotiated and redefined.
And Lysimantes' brief rebellion culminates in a threat that reveals the value all place on sexual and social decorum: he threatens to expose the Queen's love for Philocles unless she agrees to marry him (5.1.323).
Seek and not find my self!-- (5.1.394-97) In both of Philocles' utopian visions, he represses problems of sexual, social, and political difference by identifying and merging himself with the supreme emblem of social decorum and political law: the monarch.
The play's closing scenes preserve social decorum and protect the political order, but the would-be lovers in the heroic plot remain troubled and frustrated.
Unlike the heroic lovers, whose repressions of ideological contradiction and of passion lead to public order and personal frustration, Celadon and Florimell seem to accept decorum and the repression it entails as a basis for comic freedom;(10) each pledges not to enquire too closely into the other's extramarital pleasures:
The comic lovers play at flouting the decorum of marriage and its values, but each, for the moment, forsakes "variety" in exchange for a relationship that provides them with a semblance of personal autonomy and identity in comparison to the heroic lovers.
Sir Martin Mar-all differs from Secret Love in that the ideological pieties of decorum itself are comically subverted, paradoxically undermined in an attempt to regulate and to reposition those who presume too much upon their prerogatives, and to acknowledge those whose relative autonomy and enterprising merit would be dangerous if not incorporated by or reconciled to the process of cultural exchanges governing the articulation of the status quo.
Sir Martin's excessive regard for these proprieties and the privileges they represent enables the audience to appreciate and to accept the distance between the decorum of rank and honor and its practice, made comically visible by the difference between Sir Martin and the other major characters.
As a self-subverting agent of decorum in quest of marriage to the rich heiress, Mistress Millisent, Sir Martin repeatedly spoils Warner's clever plots to fulfill his master's desire.
Warner and Millisent resemble Celadon and Florimell in that they use wit as a quiet means to reconstruct and to live within the restraints of decorum. Wit enables them to mock the forms of decorum while retaining its privileges.
In the relations of Lady Dupe, Mistress Christian, and Lord Dartmouth, the disguises of decorum satisfy desires more restricted and particular: the women's for money and the man's for adultery.