The Way of the World

The Way of the World

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The Way of the World Act 2, Scene 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
It is now one o’ clock and Waitwell and Foible have arrived at Rosamond’s pond to meet Mirabell. Mirabell jokes that Waitwell seems to think that he was married to Foible for his own “recreation” rather than Mirabell’s “conveniency.”
Mirabell has essentially organized the marriage to serve his needs and is paying the couple handsomely for their participation. As such, he requires them to work for him and manages their time until the plan is successful.
Themes
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
Waitwell apologizes. He admits that he and his new bride have “been solacing in lawful delights” but that they both have an “eye to business” and are ready to follow his orders. He tells Mirabell that if Foible can follow Mirabell’s directions as well as she follows his own instructions when they have marital relations, then Mirabell’s plan will succeed.
Waitwell always defers to Mirabell. He is a good and faithful servant, eager to serve. And yet it’s obvious that Waitwell and Foible have been vigorously enjoying their new, marital relations. Their love, which seems real despite its artificial origins, is deeply physical, and Waitwell even defines his wife’s sexual willingness in terms of faithfulness and duty.
Themes
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Mirabell congratulates Foible on her marriage. Foible, though, is worried: she is “ashamed” because she left her lady, Wishfort, without telling her where she was going or what she was doing. Waitwell affirms that his wife did try to get back to Wishfort’s but that it’s his fault that she’s late in getting back. Mirabell slyly responds that he can believe that Waitwell had a lot to do with Foible’s delay.
Foible is just as loyal and hardworking as her new husband but is the brains of the pair (in the play women are usually, though not always, smarter than the men). She is extremely clever and knows that serving Mirabell before Wishfort will be the best means of achieving a better life. She is also an adept liar and a good secret-keeper, judging from her participation in Mirabell’s schemes while working for Wishfort, who hates Mirabell.
Themes
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Foible changes the topic back to the issue at hand: Mirabell’s plan to marry Millamant. She tells Mirabell that she promised to bring Wishfort a picture of Mirabell’s (fake) uncle, Sir Rowland. She also plans on lying to Wishfort that, after seeing her picture, Sir Rowland was so overcome by her beauty that he burns with impatience to meet her. Mirabell praises Foible’s clever idea, attributing her eloquence in matters of love to her marriage. Waitwell also agrees and tells Mirabell that he thinks she has “profited” from the marriage.
Foible is able to take initiative to further Mirabell’s plans on her own because her ideas are always really good additions to Mirabell’s plans. Like Mirabell, she is good at reading people and knows how to use the information about people’s characters to manipulate them into doing what she needs them to do. In this way, she is able to coerce the naïve and trusting Wishfort very easily. And yet both men attribute Foible’s good ideas here as resulting from her marriage rather than from her own smarts! In this light it is understandable why Millamant might be leery of getting married.
Themes
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
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Then, Foible asks Mirabell if he has seen Millamant. She tells him that she decided to tell Millamant of Mirabell’s plan because she was afraid that Mirabell would be unable to find a chance to, particularly because male admirers often surround Millamant. Mirabell again praises Foible for her diligence and good ideas, and as a reward gives her some money. Foible thanks him, calling herself his “humble servant.” Waitwell turns to his wife and begins to ask her to give it to him.
Mirabell knows that good behavior needs to be rewarded. The trusting relationship he develops with his allies is based on a system of immediate financial compensation and also promises of long-term payouts. The way of the Restoration world seems very businesslike. It is a society based on financial incentive and cooperative partnerships.
Themes
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
Mirabell steps in and tells Waitwell to back off. The money is only for Foible, he warns. He tells her to prosper and promises to reward her with a lease to a well-stocked farm, if their plan succeeds.
Mirabell is harder on his own servant than Foible. It seems that he doesn’t quite trust Waitwell and wants to preserve the servant-master relationship.
Themes
Love and Money Theme Icon
Foible thanks him and assures him that they will succeed. She asks if he has any more directions for her before she heads back to Wishfort, whom she guesses is waiting for help to get dressed for dinner. Just then, she thinks that she spots Marwood walk by wearing a mask. Foible worries that Marwood might have seen her with Mirabell and will tell Wishfort. She hastens home to prevent her from doing so.
Foible is observant, a very useful skill given the high-stakes intrigue Mirabell has developed. Not even the mask can prevent her sharp eyes from recognizing an enemy. Foible knows that Marwood is not trustworthy and believes that Marwood would sooner try to gain Wishfort’s confidence than give Foible the benefit of the doubt.
Themes
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon