The Way of the World Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. Why are fame and fortune said to be 'fleeting'?

Fame and fortune are fleeting because no one knows if he will always have either one. At any moment, either can be taken away.

2. Why does Congreve believe that 'natural fools' are blessed by fortune?

Natural fools have no control over their lives which are determined by fate. Since fate determines their destiny, natural fools are blessed because it makes no difference what they do.

3. Is Congreve being facetious when he says the play's purpose is to entertain the audience and not instruct them about life?

Yes, Congreve is being facetious. He intends to ridicule the audience's everyday lives and suggests alternative behaviors. For example, his revelations of the marriages of the day are sharply contrasted to the ideal marriage Mirabel and Millamant discuss.

4. In what way(s) is the play different from the usual farce audiences were accustomed to?

The play is more subtle and depends more on satire than on broad comedy. Audiences did not like the play because of its complex plot. They preferred broad farce (such as Mrs. Marwood's stay in the closet) than subtle satire.

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