The Way of the World

The Way of the World

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The Way of the World Act 5, Scene 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Once the two villains leave, Wishfort turns to her daughter and praises her prudence. Arabella gives all the credit to Mirabell, her “cautious friend.” Wishfort, then, turns to thank Mirabell for his help and tells him that she will keep her promises. First, she pardons “Sir Rowland” and Foible. But she tells Mirabell that it will be awkward to break the news to her nephew, Wilfull, that he will not be marrying Millamant.
As Wishfort is forced to undo all her vengeful acts, happy spirits and forgiveness flow readily from everyone onstage. Both love and fortunes have been preserved, all according to Mirabell’s plan.
Themes
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
Mirabell assures her not to worry. He tells her that he only needs her consent to the marriage because Wilfull never actually intended on marrying Millamant but only said he did as a generous favor to his friend Mirabell. Wilfull reaffirms his desire travel and asks if she can spare Petulant and Witwoud to serve as his travel companions. Wishfort is delighted by this turn of events and readily agrees. Petulant and Witwoud are still confused by what’s happening but find the idea of traveling with Wilfull more or less agreeable.
After Mirabell unveils his last secret, the pretend engagement between Wilfull and Millamant, Congreve fulfills the audience’s expectations that characters loyal to Mirabell will be rewarded for their participation in his schemes. Notably, the three fools have joined forces, finding friendship and intellectual compatibility in each other.
Themes
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Wits and Fools Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
Turning to the lovers, Wishfort blesses their engagement. Millamant complains good-naturedly about Mirabell not “taking” her. She asks him whether he wants her to give herself to him again. He kisses her and tells her that he would have her do so, over and over. He implores heaven that he love her “not too well.”
Millamant is slowly coming around to relinquishing some of her staunch ideas about independence. Mirabell’s prayer not to love Millamant excessively suggests that he will work hard to fulfill her expectations, to give her love and freedom.
Themes
Love and Money Theme Icon
Wilfull interrupts the lovers and tells them they’ll have time to make love later. He calls for a dance and a song. Wishfort excuses herself from the festivities, claiming that she is fatigued and worried that Fainall will do something desperate. Mirabell reassures her that Fainall cannot hurt the family. Before Wishfort leaves, Mirabell returns the deed to Arabella, and advises her that if she uses it properly, it will be the best way to keep Fainall in check.
It is significant that Mrs. Fainall is now being called Arabella, her given name. The name change corresponds to her regaining of her independence, both in her freedom from Fainall and, now, by being given the document that controls her fortune. She has become once again herself, in control of herself, in love and money.
Themes
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
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