“Tis better to be left than never to have been loved”.Mrs. Marwood|The Way of the World, Act 2, Scene 1
The Way of the World is a play written ✍️ by William Congreve by late 1699 🗓️ and early 1700. The Way of the World is a five act play published in 1700. It was first enacted in the theatre 🏟️ in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The Way of the World is the one of the best play under the cateogory of Restoration comedy which satirises 🤭 the social system of the period. No character is glorified ✖️ with virtues with so-called qualities of the heroine or hero in this play.
‘The Way of the World‘ – Prologue
‘The Way of the World‘ begins with a prologue 📄 delivered by Fainall. He reveals that this play will be full of jokes 😅 and apologises 🙏 from the audience for not pleasing the high expectations 🙃 of the audience.
Epigraph of ‘The Way of the World‘
The epigraph 📜 of the play, ‘The Way of the World‘ is taken from ‘Satires’ written by Horace. It is printed 🗳️ in the 1700 🗓️ edition upon the title page. Both of the quotations warn the audience 🏟️ of the risks involved in infidelity and deception 😵.
In the Chocolate House
Act I is set in the Chocolate House 🏚️ where Mirabell and Fainall have finished playing cards ♥️♠️ and is informed by a man that Waitwell – the servant of Mirabell and Foible – the servant of Lady Wishfort has got 👰 🤵. Mirabell shares his love 😍 for Millamant and his desire to marry 💍her. Fainwall encourages 👏 him to marry 💒 with the permission of Lady Wishfort as Millamant will lose an inheritance amount £6,000 💵 if Millamant marries against the wish of Lady Wishfort. Millamant already has £6,000 with her and another £6,000 under the control of Lady Wishfort.
At St. James Park
“And for a discerning man somewhat too passionate a lover, for I like her with all her faults; nay, like her for her faults. Her follies are so natural, or so artful, that they become her, and those affectations which in another woman would be odious serve but to make her more agreeable”.Mirabell|The Way of the World
Mrs. Fainall, the daughter 👱♀️ of Lady Wishfort is having a conversation 👩🦰 with Mrs. Marwood at St. James park 🎡. They speak of how they hate 😏 men. Fainall then comes to meet Mrs. Marwood with whom Fainall has an affair 🤫. Later Mirabel and Mrs Fainall meet.
“While I only hated my husband, I could bear to see him; but since I have despised him, he’s too offensive” .Mrs. Fainall |The Way of the World
Why does Mirabel and Mrs. Fainall meet? 🤔 Do they share something in common?
Mirabell and Arabella
“Love will resume his empire in our breasts, and every heart, or soon or late, receive and readmit him as its lawful tyrant”.Marwood|The Way of the World
Mirabel had an affair 🥰 with Mrs. Fainall before her marriage, that is when she was Arabel. Later, Mirabel himself found Fainall and encouraged ☺️ to marry Arabel to Fainall. But Mirabel and Mrs. Fainall remains good friends 🤝 and shares to him that she hates 😬 her husband. While Mirabel reveals his suspicion 🤔 that Fainall and Mrs. Marwood are in an affair.
“Men are ever in extremes; either doting or averse. While they are lovers, if they have fire and sense, their jealousies are insupportable: and when they cease to love…they loathe, they look upon us with horror and distaste, they meet us like the ghosts of what we were, and as from such, fly from us”.Mrs. Fainall |The Way of the World
Here Comes Millamant
Millamant comes to meet 🤝 Mirabell and Mrs. Fainall. Millamant knows that they have had an affair. But now, she has come to meet Mirabel and warns him not to upset 😔 Lady Wishfort as she will lose her inheritance 💸. She knows that Mirabell has plotted 🤨 something but she has no perfect idea 💡 of his plan. The newly wed couple 👰🤵 comes to meet Mirabell and Mirabell instructs them to execute his plan.
What was the plan of Mirabel which he wants to execute with the help of Waitwell? Will this work out?
The Plan of Mirabell
“Bring what you will; but come alive, pray come alive”.Lady Wishfort|The Way of the World, Act 4, Scene 15
The next acts are set in the house of Lady Wishfort 🏬, the aunt and guardian of Millamant. Lady Wishfort is encouraged 🤗 to marry Sir Rowland, the disguised 🎭 Waitwell by Foible. Mirabell has planned to trap 😉 Lady Wishfort in a marriage that would ruin her 😖 status in the society as she is an aristocrat 👩⚖️ and Sir Rowland (Waitwell) is a servant 🧔. Mirabell plans to act as the saviour 👼 of Lady Wishfort if she permits him to marry 💗 Millamant.
“I look like an old peeled wall. Thou must repair me, Foible”.
Lady Wishfort|The Way of the World, Act 3, Scene 5
The Plan is no Longer a Secret 🥶
“Poisoning’s too good for him. Starve him, madam, starve him; marry Sir Rowland”.
Mrs. Marwood|The Way of the World, Act 3, Scene 5
The plan is overheard 😲 by Mrs. Marwood when Mrs. Fainall and Foible discuss 💤 it. Mrs. Marwood shares it to his lover Fainall and they plot a plan 🤨 against Lady Wishfort to capture the inheritance money 💶 of Mrs. Fainall and leave the place with Mrs. Marwood. Fainall also comes to know 😬 about the affair between Mirabell and Mrs. Fainall. He now wants to take revenge 😡. Moreover, he wants money 💷.
“You married her to keep you; and if you can contrive to have her keep you better than you expected, why should you not keep her longer than you intended?Marwood|The Way of the World
Mirabell Proposes Millament 💍
“…for we shall be sick of one another. I shan’t endure to be reprimanded nor instructed; ’tis so dull to act always by advice, and so tedious to be told of one’s faults, I can’t bear it. Well, I won’t have you, Mirabell—I’m resolved…”Millamant|The Way of the World
“One’s cruelty is one’s power”.
Millamant|The Way of the World, Act 2, Scene 5
Mirabell and Millamant express 😍 their feelings for each other at the same time Millamant puts forward certain conditions 💁♀️ under which they should proceed with the process of marriage 👩❤️💋👨. A prenuptial agreement 📜 is detailed which is accepted by Mirabell. He then proposes 💍 Millamant is accepted by her with the support 😊 of Mrs. Fainall.
“Have you any more conditions to offer? Hitherto your demands are pretty reasonable” .
Mirabell|The Way of the World, Act 4, Scene 5
Sir Wilfull Witwoud – Lady Wishfort’s Candidate
Lady Wishfort returns to her house 🏬 and reveals that she wants her niece cum ward Millamant to marry 💒 Sir Wilfull Witwoud, her nephew. Millamant rejects 🙅♀️ it. Lady Wishfort then receives a letter ✉️ unmasking 🎭 Sir Rowland. He convinces Lady Wishfort to get the marriage contract 📜 by saying 🗣️ that it is Mirabell trying to ruin their relationship 🥰.
Fainall Bursts Out the Secret 🗣️
“’Twas for my ease to oversee and wilfully neglect the gross advances made him by my wife, that by permitting her to be engaged, I might continue unsuspected in my pleasures, and take you oftener to my arms in full security. But could you think, because the nodding husband would not wake, that e’er the watchful lover slept?”Fainall|The Way of the World
Fainall reveals the secret plan 😕 of Mirabell and the entire effort is wasted. Now, Fainall starts bargaining 💰. Fainall threatens to disgrace 😔 her daughter, Mrs. Fainall of her previous affair 😒 with Mirabell and asks her to transfer the management rights 💼 of her properties as well as the inheritance money 💴 of Millamant to shut his mouth 🤫. He also asks Lady not to remarry 🥴 to ensure there is no other heir than Mrs. Fainall for her properties 😈.
“I, it seems, am a husband, a rank husband, and my wife a very errant, rank wife,—all in the way of the world”.Fainall|The Way of the World
Millamant to Marry Sir Wilfull Witwoud 🤨
Millamant, on hearing 👂 the demands of Fainall agrees to marry 👰 Sir Wilfull Witwoud 🤵, the selected candidate of Lady Wishfort to get her inheritance. She is not ready 😑 to give nor share her money 💷 with anybody. She gives consent 🙂 for the marriage to get her right.
Lady Wishfort in Trouble 😩
As Millamant has agreed 🤝 for the marriage as suggested by Lady Wishfort, Fainall realises 😦 that he won’t be able to get the amount 😬 of Millamant. There, Fainall asks for the sudden transfer 😁 of the properties of Lady Wishfort. Lady Wishfort in trouble 😩 seeks the help 🙏 of Mirabell 😣 giving consent for the marriage 👍 of Mirabell and Millamant if she is saved out of this 🙂.
The Twist 🔀
“Let husbands be jealous, but let the lover still believe: or if he doubt, let it be only to endear his pleasure, and prepare the joy that follows, when he proves his mistress true. But let husbands’ doubts convert to endless jealousy; or if they have belief, let it corrupt to superstition and blind credulity”.Mrs. Fainall |The Way of the World
Mirabell gets back with Waitwell who brings a contract 📜 with the agreement that Mrs. Fainall has transferred 🔄 properties to Mirabell. Fainall is shocked 🤯. Mirabell says that he and Mrs. Fainall had done this before the marriage ⚭ as they were unsure of his character 😶. Lady Wishfort gives consent 🙂 for the marriage and the couple 👫 is ready to receive the whole inheritance amount 💶 of £12,000. Mirabell then gives back the property 🔄 of Mrs. Fainall and everything is set neutral ↔️.
“Female frailty! We must all come to it, if we live to be old, and feel the craving of a false appetite when the true is decayed.”Mrs. Fainall |The Way of the World
‘The Way of the World‘ – Structure
- Act I – 9 Scenes
- Act II – 9 Scenes
- Act III – 18 Scenes
- Act IV – 15 Scenes
- Act V – 14 Scenes
“Tis the way of the world” .Fainall |The Way of the World
‘The Way of the World’ is certainly mocking 🤭 the culture of its time. It was also controversial as it deals with themes of sexual explicitness which was not favoured 😑 by the audience of that era. The play details how money 💰 plays a great role in the establishment 🤝 of relationships like love ❤️ and marriage💍. Anne Bracegirdle was the actress 💃 who played the role of Millamant in ‘The Way of the World’.
‘The Way of the World’: A Restoration Comedy
The Restoration period of was a historical time in England 🏴, the period when England established as the colonial power 💪 of the world. The only thing that mattered then was money 💵, sex 😉 and pleasure 😊. The Restoration comedies or the comedy is a perfect blend 🔄 of all these to mocks these values and systems of the society. Thus, ‘The Way of the World’ by William Congreve is regarded as the best 👍 of restoration comedies as we see no spiritual love 💖 but intellectual love 💝. Mirabell nor Millamant is not ready to sacrifice the inheritance money 💰 of £6,000 for love.
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