The Way of the World

The Way of the World

Mrs. Arabella Fainall Character Analysis

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 Languish who died and left her his fortune. While a widow, she began an affair with Mirabell. They ended the affair before she got married to Fainall and remained close friends. Mirabell trusts and admires the steady and clear-thinking Mrs. Fainall immensely and tells her every detail of his plan. Mrs. Fainall esteems Mirabell in the same way and still seems to have feelings for him. However, she never reveals that she still loves Mirabell and doesn’t ruin his plan, though she does encourage Sir Wilfull to propose to her cousin, Millamant, and is noticeably less patient with Millamant as the play develops. Mrs. Fainall hates her husband immensely but doesn’t learn about his affair until Foible reveals it to her. She distrusts Marwood and suspects that she’s in love with Mirabell, too

Mrs. Arabella Fainall Quotes in The Way of the World

The The Way of the World quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Arabella Fainall or refer to Mrs. Arabella Fainall. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of The Way of the World published in 1993.
Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

…if we will be happy, we must find the means in ourselves, and among ourselves.

Related Characters: Mrs. Arabella Fainall (speaker), Marwood
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

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Men are ever in extremes; either doting or averse. While they are lovers, if they have fire and sense, their jealousies are insupportable: and when they cease to love…they loathe, they look upon us with horror and distaste, they meet us like the ghosts of what we were, and as from such, fly from us.

Related Characters: Mrs. Arabella Fainall (speaker), Marwood
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Love will resume his empire in our breasts, and every heart, or soon or late, receive and readmit him as its lawful tyrant.

Related Characters: Marwood (speaker), Mrs. Arabella Fainall
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Act 2, Scene 3 Quotes

’Twas for my ease to oversee and wilfully neglect the gross advances made him by my wife, that by permitting her to be engaged, I might continue unsuspected in my pleasures, and take you oftener to my arms in full security. But could you think, because the nodding husband would not wake, that e’er the watchful lover slept?

Related Characters: Fainall (speaker), Mirabell, Marwood, Mrs. Arabella Fainall
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2, Scene 4 Quotes

While I only hated my husband, I could bear to see him; but since I have despised him, he’s too offensive.

Related Characters: Mrs. Arabella Fainall (speaker), Fainall
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

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You should have just so much disgust for your husband as may be sufficient to make you relish your lover.

Related Characters: Mirabell (speaker), Fainall, Mrs. Arabella Fainall
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Act 3, Scene 18 Quotes

You married her to keep you; and if you can contrive to have her keep you better than you expected, why should you not keep her longer than you intended?

Related Characters: Marwood (speaker), Fainall, Mrs. Arabella Fainall
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur

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Mrs. Arabella Fainall Character Timeline in The Way of the World

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Arabella Fainall appears in The Way of the World. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
...to her by Mrs. Marwood, a close family friend to both Wishfort and her daughter, Mrs. Fainall (Fainall’s wife). Mirabell also hints that Marwood is more than just a friend to Fainall. (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Wits and Fools Theme Icon
...mentions that he’s glad that tonight isn’t a “cabal-night.” He asks Fainall whether he allows Mrs. Fainall to attend these “cabal” gatherings of Wishfort’s. Fainall responds that he’s not jealous of the... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 5
Wits and Fools Theme Icon
...himself by traveling abroad. During this conversation, Mirabell learns that Sir Wilfull is related to Mrs. Fainall and Millamant—his mother is Wishfort’s sister. Fainall remarks that if Mirabell were to marry Millamant,... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 6
Wits and Fools Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
...the conversation to Fainall, and compliments Fainall for having a happy marriage. Mirabell responds that Mrs. Fainall would draw a more accurate and vastly different picture of her marriage. (full context)
Act 1, Scene 9
Wits and Fools Theme Icon
...words to use. Petulant, then, jokes that the three women are Witwoud’s cousins and aunt: Mrs. Fainall , Millamant, and Wishfort, respectively. Rather than being offended, Witwoud laughs off Petulant’s insult toward... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
Two friends Mrs. Fainall and Mrs. Marwood walk in St. James’s Park, discussing men and love. Mrs. Fainall remarks... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
Mrs. Fainall is surprised by Marwood’s philosophy, as it stands in contrast to the anti-men ideology of... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
Marwood switches her stance. She tells Mrs. Fainall that she, too, despises men and only lied about liking them to see if she... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Mrs. Fainall replies that it’s too bad, then, that Marwood isn’t married to Mirabell. Marwood blushes, and... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Marwood insists that she hates Mirabell, because he’s so proud, but Mrs. Fainall insists Marwood is lying. Marwood responds that Mrs. Fainall also acts more like a friend... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Mrs. Fainall changes the subject, saying she feels sick because she has just spotted her husband walking... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Mirabell and Fainall, also walking in the park, have just seen Mrs. Fainall and Marwood and head towards them. Before the men are within earshot, Marwood jokes that... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Mrs. Fainall ignores her husband’s remark and addresses Mirabell, telling him that she wants to hear more... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Mrs. Fainall then adds that she doesn’t want to walk with her husband, joking that by not... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Marwood asks Fainall if he wants to follow Mrs. Fainall and Mirabell. Fainall does not. Yet Marwood encourages the idea because she has “a reason.”... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
...is trying to protect Fainall’s “honor.” Fainall realizes her insinuation, that she believes Mirabell and Mrs. Fainall are more than friends. Marwood replies that she believes Mrs. Fainall does not actually hate... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
...been so upset that she would’ve disinherited Millamant. Millamant’s fortune would then have gone to Mrs. Fainall and Fainall would have had access to that money to spend on Marwood. Marwood doesn’t... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
...has with her. Then, he guides her down a different path to avoid Mirabell and Mrs. Fainall . (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Mrs. Fainall and Mirabell watch Marwood and Fainall take another path in the park. Mrs. Fainall remarks... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
Mrs. Fainall agrees, admitting she loved with “indiscretion.” Mirabell suggests a formula of sorts for hating her... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
Mrs. Fainall is not satisfied with this explanation and reproaches Mirabell, telling him that she “ought to... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
Mrs. Fainall is intrigued and asks him whom he has chosen to play the role of his... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
Mrs. Fainall checks whether he would release her mother from the marriage by producing Waitwell’s marriage certificate... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
...to his marriage to Millamant and release Millamant’s fortune before he would produce the certificate. Mrs. Fainall , evidently in approval of the plan, informs Mirabell that her mother spoke just last... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Mrs. Fainall thinks Mirabell’s plan looks promising because her mother “will do anything to get a husband.”... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 5
Wits and Fools Theme Icon
As he stands with Mrs. Fainall , Mirabell spots Millamant from afar. He compares the outfit she is wearing to a... (full context)
Wits and Fools Theme Icon
Mrs. Fainall changes the topic, asking Millamant, why she took so long to meet her at the... (full context)
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
Mrs. Fainall enquires again what took Millamant so long to arrive at the park. Mincing reminds her... (full context)
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
Mirabell’s outlook annoys Millamant, who exclaims to Mrs. Fainall about the “vanity of these men,” who believe that feminine beauty comes from the compliments... (full context)
Wits and Fools Theme Icon
...wait until her death to repeat her. Millamant dismisses Witwoud story as “fiction” and urges Mrs. Fainall to depart with. But at Mirabell’s discreet request, Mrs. Fainall asks to speak with Witwoud... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 6
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
Mrs. Fainall and Witwoud depart, leaving Mirabell, Millamant, and Mincing. Mincing is ignored for the entirety of... (full context)
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
Millamant calls him tedious for being so serious and bids him farewell. She sees Mrs. Fainall and Witwoud from a distance and says that she is going to join them. (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
...done thinking about that, then he should think of her. She leaves him to join Mrs. Fainall and Witwoud, taking Mincing with her before Mirabell can finish what he was trying to... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 6
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
After Wishfort leaves the room, Mrs. Fainall enters to warn Foible that Marwood saw her with Mirabell in the park and will... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Foible explains that she wasn’t sure whether Mirabell told Mrs. Fainall the entirety of his plan to marry Millamant. She compliments Mirabell for being such a... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Before leaving the room, Foible asks Mrs. Fainall to give Mirabell an update about Wishfort’s interest in Rowland and that Marwood seems to... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 7
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Marwood comes out of her hiding place in the closet, having heard everything Foible and Mrs. Fainall said. She vows to watch Foible more closely and reflecting that her suspicion that Mirabell... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 16
Wits and Fools Theme Icon
Wishfort and her daughter, Mrs. Fainall , join the group. Wishfort welcomes Wilfull and he greets his cousin, Mrs. Fainall. Wishfort... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 18
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
...other means. She reveals another plan that would get Fainall the money. If he reveals Mrs. Fainall ’s former affair with Mirabell to Wishfort and threatens to leave Mrs. Fainall because of... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
Foible finds Millamant pacing about the living room, reciting poetry. Mrs. Fainall is there, too, watching Millamant. Foible informs Millamant that Mirabell has been waiting the last... (full context)
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
...should send Mirabell away. Millamant changes her mind and decides to see Mirabell. She tells Mrs. Fainall to entertain Wilfull so that she can focus on memorizing the poem. Mrs. Fainall, curtly,... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
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As Mrs. Fainall is about to leave the house, Sir Wilfull arrives. Mrs. Fainall greets him, telling him... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
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Sir Wilfull begs Mrs. Fainall through the door to let him out because he’s forgotten to wear his gloves. As... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 5
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
...by the rules they have devised and Mirabell kisses Millamant’s hand to seal the contract. Mrs. Fainall approaches to bear witness to their agreement. (full context)
Act 4, Scene 6
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
Still in the living room, Millamant looks to Mrs. Fainall and asks her for advice: should she marry Mirabell? She admits that she really wants... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Mrs. Fainall interrupts the happy couple to tell Mirabell that he has no time to talk or... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 7
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Once they are alone, Mrs. Fainall tells Millamant that Wilfull has gotten so drunk and noisy that her mother had to... (full context)
Wits and Fools Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
Millamant, totally ignoring everything that Mrs. Fainall has just said, admits to Mrs. Fainall that she loves Mirabell “violently.” Mrs. Fainall is... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 8
Wits and Fools Theme Icon
A drunken Witwoud joins the women in the parlor. When Mrs. Fainall asks him if Petulant and Wilfull, have made up, Witwoud responds that he had to... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 9
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Wits and Fools Theme Icon
Mrs. Fainall , then, asks Witwoud how the three men came to be so drunk and start... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 10
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Wishfort joins Millamant, Mrs. Fainall , and Witwoud. She has dragged along a very drunk and, apparently, smelly Wilfull to... (full context)
Wits and Fools Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
...and asks her aunt to be excused before she faints from Willful’s stench. She urges Mrs. Fainall to leave with her. The two women exit, leaving Wishfort behind with Wilfull and Witwoud. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
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Mrs. Fainall enters the dressing room. Seeing Foible distressed, she tries to comfort her and find out... (full context)
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Mrs. Fainall realizes that, if her mother knows everything, then she also knows of her own affair... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
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Mrs. Fainall orders Foible to tell Mincing that she must reveal what she knows about Marwood’s affair... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 4
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
Mrs. Fainall enters. Wishfort condemns her daughter and tells her that because of her affair, she must... (full context)
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 11
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Love and Money Theme Icon
Seeing the two servants enter together with Mrs. Fainall , Marwood instantly realizes that they are going to expose her affair with Fainall to... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 13
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
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...from trying to wheedle it out of her. Mirabell continues to explain that he warned Arabella Languish (Mrs. Fainall) of Fainall’s bad temper and reputation. However, she was fond of Fainall... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
Men vs. Women Theme Icon
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...and his case against Wishfort and her daughter is no longer valid. Mirabell continues that Arabella’s precautions are “the way of the world” with the “widows of the world.” (full context)
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...between them and blocks Fainall. Fainall shouts that Mirabell hasn’t heard the last of this. Arabella addresses Marwood and tells her that she looks so upset that she better vent her... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 14
Female (In)dependence Theme Icon
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Once the two villains leave, Wishfort turns to her daughter and praises her prudence. Arabella gives all the credit to Mirabell, her “cautious friend.” Wishfort, then, turns to thank Mirabell... (full context)
Jealousy, Deceit, and Intrigue Theme Icon
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...her that Fainall cannot hurt the family. Before Wishfort leaves, Mirabell returns the deed to Arabella, and advises her that if she uses it properly, it will be the best way... (full context)