"the Provoked Husband"

David Garrick in VanBrugh's Provoked Wife
Public DomainDavid Garrick in VanBrugh's Provoked Wife - Credit: Johann Zoffany.
The Provoked Husband originated as an unfinished three-act comedy fragment by John Vanbrugh, titled A Journey to London.  The play would have followed on Vanbrugh’s earlier Restoration comedies, The Relapse (1696) and The Provoked Wife (1697). The latter considered the options of a wife trapped in an abusive marriage, who might consider leaving it or taking a lover, and outraged some sections of Restoration society.  Vanbrugh had intended that A Journey to London would further question traditional marriage roles, and end with a marriage falling irreconcilably apart. After Vanbrugh's sudden death, his colleague Colley Cibber completed the manuscript, under the title of The Provoked Husband (1728).  Cibber however gave it a happy ending, in which the irascible wife repents and is reconciled to her husband – quite the opposite of what Vanbrugh intended.