It is still evening of the day in which all the events up to now have taken place. Wishfort and Foible are still in the dressing room. However, Wishfort is yelling angrily at Foible to get out of her house. She has discovered Foible’s hand in Mirabell’s plan sometime between the end of the last scene of Act 4 and the beginning of this scene.
The previous scene ended with all looking well for Mirabell and his allies. Then Congreve has events happen offstage that smash all that to pieces! Congreve was essentially playing a trick on the audience, which must now adjust quickly to the unanticipated complications that come about now that Wishfort knows of Mirabell’s scheme but not Fainall’s.
Foible begs her forgiveness but Wishfort is unmoved. She tells Foible that she will end up back on the streets where she found her. Foible tries to plead her innocence, telling Wishfort that Mirabell seduced her and promised her all sorts of rewards for her help.
Foible again tries to use Mirabell’s roguish personality as an excuse for her deceit. However, Wishfort is no longer so easily tricked by her servant.
Wishfort doesn’t care. She is beyond furious that Foible would have destroyed her honor by marrying her to Mirabell’s servant. Foible tries to explain that Waitwell was already married to her and that she would never have allowed the deception to go so far. Wishfort tells Foible that her husband has been arrested and that she s going to call the constable to have Foible arrested and sent to prison, too. Wishfort exits the room, leaving Foible to consider her fate.
Wishfort has taken control of the scene and is bent on hurting anyone in the least way connected with Mirabell. Foible and Waitwell are easy targets to punish and bring her immediate satisfaction. Her jealousy has kindled into white-hot rage now that she knows how far Mirabell was willing to go to get his way and marry Millamant, and despite her foolishness as a wealthy high-class woman she has a lot of power.