The Way of the World

The Way of the World


William Congreve

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The Way of the World Characters


The protagonist of the play, Edward Mirabell is a fashionable, intellectual, and clever man-about-town, popular with the ladies. He was Mrs. Fainall’s lover before her marriage to Fainall and has broken his fair share… read analysis of Mirabell


The antagonist of the play, Fainall is a sneaky, insecure, and traitorous fellow with a not so good reputation around town—basically, he has all the negative qualities that Mirabell does not. He is the second… read analysis of Fainall


Fainall’s lover and Lady Wishfort’s best friend, Marwood is cunning and manipulative. Likely in love with Mirabell, who doesn’t love her, she is able to convince Fainall that she only loves him… read analysis of Marwood

Mrs. Arabella Fainall

Known as Mrs. Fainall through much of the play, Arabella Fainall is Lady Wishfort’s daughter and Millamant, Witwoud, and Sir Wilfull’s cousin. She was once married to a rich man named… read analysis of Mrs. Arabella Fainall

Lady Wishfort

A wealthy, old widow, mother to Arabella Fainall, and aunt to Millamant, Witwoud, and Sir Wilfull, Lady Wishfort is a vain and silly woman who tries to act younger than she… read analysis of Lady Wishfort
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Foible is Lady Wishfort’s servant. She was apparently once a beggar and perhaps homeless before Wishfort saved her from the streets and gave her a job. She is a smart and eloquent woman and… read analysis of Foible


Spoiled, beautiful, and rich Millamant could have any man she wants and knows it too. She is very fashionable and popular in London. Though she can seem cruel and uncaring towards Mirabell, she does… read analysis of Millamant

Sir Wilfull Witwoud

Sir Wilfull is Lady Wishfort’s forty-year-old nephew from the countryside. He is unrefined and ignorant but also very sweet and good-humored. Sir Wilfull wants to better himself by travelling to France. He has come… read analysis of Sir Wilfull Witwoud


Waitwell is Mirabell’s hardworking servant who Mirabell allows to marry Foible. Newly married, he is eager to sleep with his wife throughout the play. In fact, it is one of his many motivators… read analysis of Waitwell


Petulant’s best friend, Lady Wishfort’s nephew, Sir Wilfull’s half brother, Millamant and Arabella Fainall’s cousin, Witwoud is a “fop,” or fool who cares too much about being fashionable. He is often… read analysis of Witwoud


Witwoud’s best friend, Petulant is a boisterous, foolish, and naughty fellow, who wants to be known as a ladies’ man but goes about it by hiring actors to help him gain a reputation. He likes… read analysis of Petulant
Minor Characters
Sir Rowland
Waitwell’s alter ego, concocted by Mirabell in his plan to blackmail Lady Wishfort into allowing him to marry Millamant.
Millamant’s loyal servant. She testifies against Marwood about her affair with Fainall.
The chocolate house waitress