The Busie Body

The Busie Body

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“The Busie Body” by Susanna Centlivre, written in 1709, stands as one of the most successful comedies of intrigue of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In this concise review, I delve into the key aspects of the play, exploring its plot, characters, and overall impact on the theatrical landscape of its time.

Plot: An Engaging Tangle of Intrigue

“The Busie Body” presents a captivating plot filled with twists and turns. Set in a bustling London, the play follows the misadventures of Marplot, an unintentional meddler who becomes entangled in various romantic affairs. Through a series of misunderstandings and comical mishaps, Centlivre weaves a web of intrigue that keeps the audience engaged and entertained.

Characters: Amusing and Memorable Personalities

Centlivre’s skill in character development shines in “The Busie Body.” Each character possesses distinct traits and contributes to the overall comedic atmosphere of the play. From the mischievous Marplot to the clever and resourceful Miranda. The cast is brimming with colorful personalities that add depth and amusement to the narrative. Centlivre’s ability to create memorable characters enhances the play’s entertainment value.

Moral Tone: Comedy with a Conscience

While “The Busie Body” falls within the genre of comedy, it also demonstrates Centlivre’s commitment to moral storytelling. The play’s humorous situations and witty dialogue never compromise the underlying moral values. In contrast to the risqué and scandalous elements prevalent in Restoration drama. Centlivre’s work caters to the evolving tastes of the middle-class audience, offering a respectable and enjoyable theatrical experience.

Respectability on Stage: Meeting Audience Expectations

During the eighteenth century, the middle-class audience increasingly sought more refined and respectable entertainment. “The Busie Body” successfully fulfills these expectations by providing an inoffensive and morally upright narrative. Centlivre’s ability to balance amusement and respectability resonated with audiences, further contributing to the play’s enduring popularity.

Historical Significance: Centlivre’s Influence on Comedy

“The Busie Body” is a prime example of Susanna Centlivre’s significant contributions to the comedic genre. Her preference for laughing comedy, combined with a moral undertone, influenced the theatrical landscape of the time. By offering plays that satisfied the desires of the evolving middle-class audience. The Centlivre carved a niche for herself as a respected playwright. And solidifying her place in theatrical history.


“The Busie Body” by Susanna Centlivre remains a lively and engaging comedy of intrigue. That captivated audiences during its time and continues to hold relevance today. Centlivre’s skillful plot construction, memorable characters. And commitment to moral storytelling make this play a noteworthy contribution to the theatrical canon. By striking a balance between amusement and respectability, Centlivre demonstrated her understanding of audience expectations. And cemented her place as a respected playwright of the eighteenth century.