The Way of the World

The Way of the World


William Congreve

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The Way of the World: Act 3, Scene 16 Summary & Analysis

Wishfort and her daughter, Mrs. Fainall, join the group. Wishfort welcomes Wilfull and he greets his cousin, Mrs. Fainall. Wishfort introduces the other men to Wilfull. Willful tells Wishfort that he’s glad she hasn’t “remembered to forget [her] relations,” and mentions Witwoud’s behavior. Wishfort waves away the insult, saying Witwoud was just being witty and means nothing by it. When he comes back from going abroad, she continues, he will understand “raillery.” Wilfull, to himself, remarks that Witwoud should keep quiet in the meantime and “rail” when he comes back then.
Wishfort, like Petulant and Witwoud, thinks there is nothing wrong with trying to follow all the behaviors London society has deemed fashionable conduct. She herself doesn’t realize that Petulant and Witwoud’s attitude towards Sir Wilfull isn’t true “raillery” but actually mean-spirited foolishness. However, Wilfull knows that he is being abused. Though he does not yet have the conversational skills to defeat them, he vows that he one day will.
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