Congreve's The Way of the World


With its cast of rakes, fops and aristocrats, The Way of the World is often presented as the quintessential Restoration comedy. In fact, it was a failure when first performed in 1700 and effectively put an end to Congreve's dramatic career.

The play's complex plot revolves around the relationship between two lovers, the protagonist Mirabell and the 'fine lady' Millamant, and Mirabell's attempts to secure Millamant's full dowry from her aunt, Lady Wishfort. It is set in iconic, fashionable London locations – St James's Park, the salons of rich ladies and the chocolate-houses that were dens of gossip and gambling – and its characters, relentless in their pursuit of financial and social power, can be difficult to sympathise with. Nevertheless, it is extremely acute in its depiction of a society in which capitalism is on the rise, and in which marriage is less about love than material gain.

Full title:
The Way of the World, a comedy, etc.
1700, London
William Congreve
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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