The Way of the World

The Way of the World


William Congreve

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The Way of the World: Act 4, Scene 1 Summary & Analysis

At Wishfort’s house, Wishfort and Foible are waiting for Sir Rowland. Suddenly, Wishfort sees a coach approaching from her window. She asks Foible whether Wilfull has greeted Millamant as she ordered. Foible informs her that Wilfull is busy getting drunk in the parlor. Wishfort, annoyed, tells Foible to call Millamant down. Wishfort goes out to tell Wilfull that he is to meet her niece. Before she leaves, she gives Foible one last piece of instruction: Foible is to see that Wilfull and Millamant meet and then come find her, so that she doesn’t stay with Sir Rowland too long.
Even while preparing herself to meet her “lover,” Wishfort cannot cease in what she believes are her duties as matriarch: getting her niece married to someone. She wants her family members and friends to behave like puppets that respond to her directions readily and for them to be in full compliance with her plans for their lives. However, no one in the family really does what Wishfort wants them to, though they all pretend to try in part because Wishfort, for all her foolishness, controls the family money.
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Wits and Fools Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon