In 18th century Britain a new form of drama emerged – sentimental comedy.
The basic premise of all sentimental comedies was that man was good, but capable of being misled. So plays of this genre had characters that were noble, got into trouble, then found the road to salvation. Strangely, these comedies were more likely to bring an audience to tears than offer them laughter.
Sentimental comedies were considered by many to be realistic depictions of everyday life and this was part of their appeal.
The best example of the genre is Sir Richard Steele’s The Conscious Lovers (1722).