The Way of the World

The Way of the World


William Congreve

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The Way of the World: Act 3, Scene 1 Summary & Analysis

At home and sitting at her dressing table, Wishfort asks her servant, Peg, if she’s heard from Foible yet. When Pegs says no, Wishfort complains that her constant worrying is ruining her complexion and making her look pale. She demands that Peg fetch her “the red.” Not understanding that Wishfort wants her makeup, Peg asks her if she wants “ratafia,” a cherry brandy. After Wishfort scolds her for being impertinent, Peg informs her that she can’t get the makeup because Foible has the key to its cabinet. This being the case, Wishfort dejectedly asks for the cherry brandy.
Wishfort is immediately established as utterly foolish. She is a vain and needy woman, and yet because she is wealthy those around her must pretend that she is beautiful and independent or suffer because of her bad moods. Innocent and clueless Peg does not understand that she needs to humor Lady Wishfort and is heavily abused by Wishfort, who thinks she is an idiot (when it is Wishfort who seems the most foolish).
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