The Way of the World Themes

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Congreve's "comedy of manners" takes the fashionable or conventional social behavior of the time as the principle subject of satire. Conflicts that arise between and among characters are prompted by affected and artificial social mores, especially with respect to relationships between the sexes. Social pretenses and plot complications abound in The Way of the World. Women are compelled to act coyly and to dissemble in courtship, couples deceive one another in marriage, friends are double-dealing, and conquests have more to do with dowries and convenience than love. All moral principle is risked for the sake of reputation and money. However, what makes the action comic is the subterfuge. What one says is hardly ever what one really thinks or means. To judge by appearances, for example, no one could be happier in his marriage than Fainall, who in reality disdains his wife and is carrying on an...

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This section contains 1,147 words
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Buy The Way of the World Study Guide
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Drama for Students
The Way of the World from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.