The way of the world is a comedy of manners. Moreover, it gives a satirical take on the approach, mannerism, and shortcomings of the privileged classes. Deception, greed and love are common throughout the way of the world summary. It is about two lovers, Mirabell and Millamant, finding ways to marry each other and not losing the inheritance. It is full of characters who are connected to each other in some way or the other. Moreover, it also exposes some of the dark secrets of the characters.
Mirabell and Millamant wish to marry each other but are aware Millamant’s aunt, Lady Wishfort, won’t allow it. They need her approval to inherit the fortune which lies in her hands. Thus, it gives an interesting take on the lengths the couple goes to for achieving the same through whatever means.
The Way of the World is a restoration comedy written by William Congreve. Through the way of the world summary, we will get a better understanding of the play. It begins with Mirabell and Fainall playing cards.
A man enters to inform Mirabell that his servant, Whitwell, and Lady Wishfort’s servant, Foible got married. Thus, Mirabell confesses to Fainall about his love for Millamant.
Further, Mirabell learns that on Lady Wishfort’s marriage, Millamant will lose the fortune she is to inherit from her aunt. Thus, they can get the money only if Lady Wishfort agrees to their marriage.
In the second act of the way of the world summary, Mrs Fainall and Mrs Marwood talk about their abhorrence for men. Suddenly, Fainall arrives to accuse Mrs Marwood of being in love with Mirabell.
In the interim, Mrs Fainall expresses her hatred for her husband to Mirabell. Thus, they begin plotting to trick Lady Wishfort into agreeing to the marriage. Next, we see Foible, encouraging Lady Wishfort to marry Sir Rowland (Whitwell in disguise).
Thus, the main plan is to trap her in marriage which won’t go ahead as it will be bigamy and also a social disgrace because of the class differences. Thus, Mirabell will lend her a helping hand to sort it out if she agrees to the marriage.
As Mrs Fainfall discusses this plan with Foible, Mrs Marwood overhears the conversation. She reveals the plan to Fainall who has decided to take Mrs Fainall’s money and elope with Mrs Marwood.
Further, in the way of the world summary, Mirabell proposes to Millamant and she accepts happily. As Mirabell leaves, Lady Wishfort enters and tells Millimant, she wants her to marry her nephew, Sir Wilfull.
After that, Lady Wishfort receives a letter that reveals the Sir Rowland plot. He then accuses Mirabell of harming their wedding. Thus, Whitewell is arrested by Fainall. Lady Wishfort is grateful to Mrs Marwood for revealing the plot.
Then, we see Fainall using the information of Mrs Fainall’s former affair with Mirabell plus Millimant’s contract of blackmailing Lady Wishfort. He tells her to not remarry and transfer her fortune to him.
However, Mirabell comes to the rescue to save her fortune and honour. Thus, all the blackmailing stops and everything is gets back in place. Finally, Millimant gets her inheritance and blessings to marry Mirabell.
The way of the world revolves around marriage, infidelity as well as inheritance. It explores the human mind and willingness to get what they want through whatever means.