Petulant, also drunk, joins the women and Witwoud in the parlor. He has just made up with Wilfull and has come to tell Millamant that she must decide, right then, whether she will have him, Petulant, as a lover or not.
A gentleman would realize that a state of drunkenness is not a good time to profess love to a lady nor demand that she tell him whether he stands a chance.
Now it becomes clear that Wilfull and Petulant were arguing about Millamant. Petulant tells her that he was defending her beauty to Wilfull. But after Millamant refuses to accept or encourage his love, Petulant tells her to “fight for her own face” next time and informs his companions he is going to bed—with his maid. Petulant exits.
Neither Petulant nor Sir Wilfull ever stood a chance of marrying Millamant, which makes their argument and their gravity about the topic all the more hilarious because they could never hope to understand Millamant, who of course is now already engaged!
Need help right now on The Way of the World?
Get help on any subject right away
Learn online or meet in person
Mrs. Fainall, then, asks Witwoud how the three men came to be so drunk and start arguing in the first place. Witwoud tells her that Fainall caused them to get drunk, as part of a plot to get rid of Sir Rowland, and later snuck off.
Witwoud’s comment here again makes clear that Fainall’s plot is in full effect. The seeming happy ending between Millamant and Mirabell is not yet clear-cut.