March 1 - April 6

tim sailer the way of the world american shakespeare center

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Brimming with sharp and elegant wit, The Way of the World, which critics largely consider the greatest of the Restoration comedies, pits a pair of lovers against a host of manipulative characters, including the underhanded (and unhappily-aging) Lady Wishfort, and the villainous Fainall. It takes a healthy dose of scheming and blackmail to give Mirabell and Millafort a happy ending – or at least the ending they desire. Rife with satire, this scathing comedy uncovers the over-the-top, and inner-workings of the idle upper-class.

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Stuff that happens in the play
  • Two gentlemen, Mirabell and Fainall, discuss Mirabell’s lover Millamant, who is poised to receive a great inheritance. In order for them to marry and receive the inheritance, they must get the blessing of Lady Wishfort (Millamant’s aunt), a noblewoman who despises Mirabell.
  • Mirabell receives word that his servant Waitwell and Lady Wishfort’s servant Foible have just married.
  • The men learn that Sir Willful Witwoud (Lady Wishfort’s nephew) is coming to town as a suitor for Millamant. His brother Anthony has already arrived in town and befriended the arrogant Petulant.
  • Anthony and Petulant confess they overheard some troubling news: if Lady Wishfort marries, Mirabell and Millamant will only receive half of Millamant’s inheritance. Mirabell hatches a plan to deceive Lady Wishfort and ensure he and Millamant receive the full amount.
  • Mrs. Fainall and Mirabell discuss their scheme to trick Lady Wishfort into “marrying” Mirabell’s servant Waitwell, who will be disguised as a lord named Sir Rowland.
  • Mrs. Marwood and Fainall discuss their affair. Fainall vows to rob his wife and marry Mrs. Marwood.
  • Mirabell reveals his plan to Millamant.
  • Foible claims Sir Rowland has fallen madly in love with Lady Wishfort’s picture. Lady Wishfort interrogates Foible to make sure she hadn’t revealed her plan to marry; Foible, playing along, encourages Lady Wishfort to marry Sir Rowland.
    Mrs. Marwood and Fainall learn of the plot against Lady Wishfort. Together, the two of them decide to reveal the scheme to her in an anonymous letter.
  • Lady Wishfort prepares to receive Sir Rowland while Millamant is forced to talk with Sir Willful, whose romantic advances she completely rejects.
  • Mirabell and Millamant verbally commit to marrying one another. Mrs. Fainall enters and witnesses the contract.
  • Sir Rowland succeeds in convincing Lady Wishfort to marry him but is interrupted when a letter is delivered exposing his identity as a servant. Sir Rowland denies the allegations and promises to deliver proof of his rank and estate.
  • Confessions, secret affairs, and reputation-recovery measures ensue.