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Discuss the character of Lady Wishfort in The Way of the World.

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silvanajahan | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 13, 2009 at 8:14 PM via web

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Discuss the character of Lady Wishfort in The Way of the World.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted December 23, 2009 at 7:02 AM (Answer #1)

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In William Congreve's play, The Way of the World, Lady Wishfort's character is given away in her name: She wishes and wishes. The suffix -fort is from the Late Latin suffix -fortāre, which is derived from the Latin word fortis meaning strong. Does the association of strong with Lady Wishfort indicate the magnitude of her wishes, the strength of her character when her wishes fail to come true or, like cheese, the unpleasant aroma of her wishes? In the end of the farcical satire, Lady Wishfort sets her wishes aside to preserve the reputation of her daughter, Mrs. Fainall; sets aside her jealous protestations preventing Mrs. Mirabella's, her niece's, happiness; and forgives all evil schemes perpetrated against her. This seems to speak to at least two of the possibilities for the -fort suffix. I suppose Congreve trusts us to decide how odoriferous Lady Wishfort's wishes really are.

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