In the parlor, Wishfort praises Marwood as a true and good friend for all her help in revealing Mirabell’s falsehoods and the imposter, Sir Rowland. She also thanks her for taking the lead role in negotiating with Fainall about his demands. She then tells Marwood that at the end of all this nasty business that they should both retire to the countryside and be celibate shepherdesses.
Wishfort, deceived before by Mirabell’s plot, now is deceived by Marwood and Fainall’s plot. Once again the audience enjoys the dramatic irony and feels “in” on the plot. Wishfort has gone from clichéd romantic ideas about love with Sir Rowland back to clichéd ideas about becoming a celibate shepherdess (while the adulterous Marwood couldn’t be farther from a celibate shepherdess)!
Mrs. Fainall enters. Wishfort condemns her daughter and tells her that because of her affair, she must now part with her wealth. Mrs. Fainall tells her mother that Marwood is lying to her and that she is innocent. Wishfort doesn’t believe her daughter, while Marwood tries to disentangle herself from the situation and excuse herself from the room by pretending to be upset by Mrs. Fainall’s accusations.
Now the audience gets to enjoy Marwood’s plot slowly begin to unravel but Marwood extricates herself from the situation before it does. Wishfort clearly believes that she will have to part with her money in order to protect the reputation of her daughter.
Wishfort apologizes to Marwood and scolds her daughter for her ungratefulness. Mrs. Fainall, however, sticks to her story and defiantly offers to stand trial to prove her innocence. She exits the room.
Marwood’s pretended anger at Mrs. Fainall’s accusations makes Wishfort think that her daughter is even worse than she thought.