The Way of the World

The Way of the World

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Witwoud Character Analysis

Petulant’s best friend, Lady Wishfort’s nephew, Sir Wilfull’s half brother, Millamant and Arabella Fainall’s cousin, Witwoud is a “fop,” or fool who cares too much about being fashionable. He is often Petulant’s mouthpiece, supplying him with vocabulary and interpreting the nonsense he spouts. Witwoud used to live in the countryside with his half-brother but has since moved to London, working first as a clerk. He doesn’t seem to have an occupation during the play and spends his time mostly hanging out with Petulant at the chocolate house and attending Lady Wishfort’s cabal meetings. Though hardly a wit like Mirabell, Witwoud is not as foolish as Petulant. He knows what people are up to, particularly Fainall, and occasionally reveals his knowledge about Fainall and Marwood’s plots to those around him. He has a troubled relationship with his country-bumpkin half-brother, who he at first refuses to recognize. But they later become friends and he joins Sir Wilfull’s plan to travel around the continent, along with Petulant.

Witwoud Quotes in The Way of the World

The The Way of the World quotes below are all either spoken by Witwoud or refer to Witwoud. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of The Way of the World published in 1993.
Act 1, Scene 9 Quotes

Where modesty’s ill manners, ’tis but fit
That impudence and malice pass for wit.

Related Characters: Mirabell (speaker), Witwoud, Petulant
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

Witwoud has told Mirabell about Lady Wishfort's plan to sabotage him by setting Millamant up with Mirabell's uncle. Dejected, Mirabell has asked Fainall to leave the chocolate house and take a walk on the Mall with him. Witwoud and Petulant have tried to invite themselves along, leading Mirabell to eventually tell them directly that he doesn't want them to come because he doesn't like the way they harass women in public. In the final lines of this scene, Mirabell denounces Witwoud and Petulant's "ill manners," "impudence," and "malice." He suggests that they are not even that witty, despite being the fools of the play. This statement confirms MIrabell's moral righteousness relative to the other characters, who are rude and disrespectful to women. 

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Act 3, Scene 16 Quotes

Sheart, I was afraid you would have been in the fashion too, and have remembered to have forgot your relations.

Related Characters: Sir Wilfull Witwoud (speaker), Lady Wishfort, Witwoud
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

Wishfort and Mrs. Fainall have joined the group of Sir Wilfull, Witwoud, and the others, and Wishfort has introduced the other men to Sir Wilfull. Wilfull remarks that he was afraid Wishfort would have followed the fashion of pretending to forget one's relations, just as Witwoud did in the previous scene. Wilfull's words emphasize the absurdity of this trend, particularly his use of the oxymoronic phrase "remembered to have forgot." This phrase highlights the complete illogicality behind many social customs, and the foolishness of people who follow such trends even when they contradict common sense knowledge about decency and reason.

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Witwoud Character Timeline in The Way of the World

The timeline below shows where the character Witwoud appears in The Way of the World. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
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...ends the conversation by suggesting they go and visit with their mutual friends, Petulant and Witwoud, who are lounging in an adjoining room. Mirabell declines, and Fainall exits. (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
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...asking Mirabell whether that means he is jealous that Millamant often entertains their foolish friend, Witwoud. (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
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...the two men. He tells her that he is there to deliver a letter to Witwoud from Sir Wilfull Witwoud, Witwoud’s older and unfashionable half-brother from the countryside. Betty instructs him... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 6
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Witwoud joins the men and immediately takes over the conversation, remarking that he’s not looking forward... (full context)
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Witwoud is shocked and scolds Mirabell for his impertinence, but then forgets what he meant to... (full context)
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The conversation turns to Petulant, who has recently won quite a bit of Witwoud’s money in a game of cards. Fainall teases Witwoud that it’s only fair that Petulant... (full context)
Witwoud refuses, though, to name the particular flaw of Petulant’s that most annoys him. This leads... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 8
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Witwoud observes the exchange between Betty and the coachman and comments to Mirabell and Fainall that... (full context)
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Witwoud explains Petulant’s trick of “calling on himself” to a baffled Mirabell and Fainall. Petulant used... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 9
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...their subtle jokes, and talks about the women as if they were his former lovers. Witwoud periodically interrupts to clarify Petulant’s meaning and supply him with more elegant words to use.... (full context)
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...wants even more details, and tells Petulant that he will regard him as wittier than Witwoud, if Petulant reveals what he knows. Petulant demands that Mirabell admit, in public, that he,... (full context)
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Witwoud comforts Mirabell, though, explaining that Millamant laughs at Petulant’s advances and that his own interest... (full context)
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After Witwoud’s report, Mirabell invites Fainall to leave the chocolate house with him and go for a... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
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...has chosen to play the role of his uncle, Sir Rowland, the same relation that Witwoud described as estranged from Mirabell. Mirabell reveals that Waitwell, his servant, will play the role.... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 5
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...outfit she is wearing to a ship in “full sail,” while he describes her companions, Witwoud and Mincing, her lady-in-waiting, as a “shoal of fools.” Mrs. Fainall also describes Millamant’s company... (full context)
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Witwoud, not Millamant, responds to Mirabell’s teasing. He quips that Millamant’s male admirers used to gather... (full context)
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...his “similitudes” because she is “as sick of ‘em…” but is again cut off by Witwoud’s simile: “as a physician of good air.” Then Witwoud apologizes by saying that he cannot... (full context)
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Millamant asks Mincing to stand between her and Witwoud’s “wit” and Witwoud encourages Mincing to follow Millamant’s command. For he is “like a screen... (full context)
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Witwoud, interested, asks Millamant if pinning her hair with letters is the best way to curl... (full context)
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...makes her curls “so pure and so crips.” Feigning interest in her hair styling technique, Witwoud makes fun of Mincing’s grammar by repeating her mispronunciation of the word “crisp.” “Indeed, so... (full context)
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Witwoud, again interrupts the conversation, to tell a silly story about a woman who talked so... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 6
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Mrs. Fainall and Witwoud depart, leaving Mirabell, Millamant, and Mincing. Mincing is ignored for the entirety of the scene... (full context)
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...him tedious for being so serious and bids him farewell. She sees Mrs. Fainall and Witwoud from a distance and says that she is going to join them. (full context)
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...that, then he should think of her. She leaves him to join Mrs. Fainall and Witwoud, taking Mincing with her before Mirabell can finish what he was trying to say to... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 9
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Foible reenters the dressing room to announce the arrival of Witwoud and Petulant for dinner. Wishfort implores Marwood to entertain the men, while she finishes getting... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 10
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Marwood leaves Foible and Wishfort to entertain the guests but finds, not Witwoud and Petulant, but rather a very angry Millamant and her servant Mincing. Millamant greets Marwood... (full context)
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Millamant is annoyed with Marwood’s honesty and tells her so. She tells Mincing to invite Witwoud and Petulant up because she would rather be in their company than lectured by Marwood. (full context)
Act 3, Scene 13
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When Witwoud and Petulant arrive, Millamant asks them whether they’re finished being hostile toward her and each... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 14
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Witwoud, Petulant, and Marwood remain behind, and spot Sir Wilfull Witwoud being led to the house... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 15
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...that he probably doesn’t even know his own name. Marwood, observing all this, remarks to Witwoud that his half-brother also seems to have forgotten him. (full context)
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Wilfull greets the group first. Marwood admonishes Witwoud for not speaking to Wilfull. Witwoud, in an aside, instructs Petulant to speak on his... (full context)
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...it looks like Wilfull has just come from a journey. Wilfull admits that he has. Witwoud, in another aside to Petulant, tells him to insult Wilfull by focusing on his boots.... (full context)
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Witwoud retorts that if the boots aren’t enough evidence of his trip, then Petulant should go... (full context)
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...friends, even if he doesn’t realize it. She asks him if he is Sir Wilfull Witwoud. Witwoud then introduces himself as Wishfort’s niece. With a little prodding from Marwood, Wilfull suddenly... (full context)
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Witwoud pretends to suddenly remember Wilfull and calls him brother, but Wilfull is deeply hurt that... (full context)
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Furthermore, Wilfull complains, when Witwoud was new to London and a clerk at Furnival’s Inn, he would write tender letters,... (full context)
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Witwoud brushes off these insults and explains that it was only a temporary move until he... (full context)
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...argument by asking Wilfull about his intention to travel. Wilfull, still mad at Petulant and Witwoud, addresses only Marwood. He tells her that he wants to see other countries but before... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 8
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A drunken Witwoud joins the women in the parlor. When Mrs. Fainall asks him if Petulant and Wilfull,... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 9
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Petulant, also drunk, joins the women and Witwoud in the parlor. He has just made up with Wilfull and has come to tell... (full context)
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Mrs. Fainall, then, asks Witwoud how the three men came to be so drunk and start arguing in the first... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 10
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Wishfort joins Millamant, Mrs. Fainall, and Witwoud. She has dragged along a very drunk and, apparently, smelly Wilfull to propose to Millamant.... (full context)
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...Fainall to leave with her. The two women exit, leaving Wishfort behind with Wilfull and Witwoud. (full context)
Act 4, Scene 11
...in Wishfort’s ear that Sir Rowland is growing impatient waiting for her return. Wishfort begs Witwoud to babysit her nephew, promising to reward him greatly, so that she can get back... (full context)
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Witwoud invites Wilfull to a cockfight. Wilfull agrees to this idea and asks whether there will... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 11
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...her that there are more surprises for her and asks permission for Waitwell, Petulant, and Witwoud to enter. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 12
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...the box, he tells Wishfort to remember her promise. Then, he asks for Petulant and Witwoud, who are slow to arrive because they have just woken up from their drunken naps.... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 13
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Petulant and Witwoud finally show up with no clue about what’s going on, as usual. Mirabell reminds them... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 14
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...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... (full context)