Seeing the two servants enter together with Mrs. Fainall, Marwood instantly realizes that they are going to expose her affair with Fainall to Wishfort. She confides her fears to Fainall, who responds that they must bear whatever happens because it is “but the way of the world.” He assures her that the revelation of their affair won’t make him lessen his terms but increase them.
Fainall is deluded by power and thinks that as a master con man, only he will be victorious because he sees the world for what it is, a corrupt place, where those who are willing to take part in that corruption are the ones who will thrive.
Meanwhile, under questioning, Foible and Mincing both swear that Marwood was having an affair with Fainall. Wishfort, angrily, turns to Marwood and asks her whether she has deceived her. Marwood asks Wishfort if she would take the word of two “mercenary trulls” over her good friend
Marwood’s lying is revealed, but Marwood does the only thing she knows to do and continues to lie.
Mincing is upset to be called a “mercenary” and tells Marwood that she actually saw Fainall and Marwood together. Furthermore, Mincing continues, she could have been justly called mercenary if Marwood had bribed them to keep quiet. However, that did not happen.
Mincing, though, insists on there being objective truth: that she can’t be called a “mercenary” because she was never paid. Further, this comment shows just how “mercenary” Marwood and Fainall and perhaps all the other characters have also been, driven as they are by monetary concerns.
Fainall tells Mincing to get lost and reminds her that she has not profited by telling Wishfort the truth. He grows increasingly angry and calls his wife to come forward. He threatens her with physical harm, but Mrs. Fainall seems unaffected by his words. She tells him that she despises him and that he has wronged her, but she has proven him false. Wishfort is disappointed by Mirabell’s smoking gun. Mirabell assures her that there are more surprises for her and asks permission for Waitwell, Petulant, and Witwoud to enter.
Fainall and his wife can now openly admit their hate. Whereas Mrs. Fainall is calm, cool, and collected throughout Mirabell’s revelation, Fainall lets his anger control his words and is very close to losing his self-control, showing the group assembled his true nature, for the first time. Certainly his behavior should scare Marwood, who has already seen him use his strength against her.