The Way of the World

The Way of the World

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The Way of the World Act 5, Scene 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As Mirabell enters the room, Wilfull whispers that he will stand by him and support him in his efforts to win over Wishfort. He also tries to comfort Mirabell by telling him that the worst Wishfort can do is frown at him, and even then, she cannot frown too much or else she’ll spoil her makeup.
Wilfull’s loyalty to Mirabell is interesting in that it seems to come from nowhere. Further, Willful’s observation about Wishfort and her makeup suggests that Willful might not have been quite as silly as he seemed to be earlier in the play. Perhaps all of that was just acting…?
Themes
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Mirabell apologizes profusely to Wishfort. He tells her that he only wants to be forgiven and that just looking at her brings up fond memories of how he was once favored by her and allowed to worship her. He tells her that he only wants her pity and then wants her to forget him, nothing else. Wilfull urges her to forgive Mirabell out of a Christian sense of mercy.
Mirabell puts on his old act in front of Wishfort, playing up his innocence and devotion to Wishfort. Willful’s suggestion that forgiveness is a Christian virtue is interesting, as both religion and forgiveness have been so generally absent from the play.
Themes
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Finally, Wishfort relents and forgives Mirabell, explaining that she does so because Wilfull wants her too. But, she adds, she wants Mirabell to release her niece from the engagement immediately and wants it in writing, too. Mirabell tells her the papers have already been drawn up and that he has dispatched his servant to bring them.
Wishfort still wants Mirabell to suffer for his past behavior. However, she has no power to make these demands of him. Mirabell lets her think she has the upper hand, giving her a fleeting sense of victory before revealing his true plans.
Themes
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
Wishfort tells herself that Mirabell has “witchcraft” in his eyes and in his tongue but that seeing him has rekindled her passion for him.
After all her desire for revenge against him, as soon as Mirabell starts to flatter her again Wishfort falls for him. Her animosity was always fueled by unrequited love.
Themes
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
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