Explain the quote from The Way of the World: "Female frailty! We must all come to it, if we live to be old, and feel the craving of a false appetite when the true is decayed." 

1 Answer | Add Yours

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This quote is uttered to Mirabell by Mrs. Fainall in this masterpiece by Congreve that focuses on the double standards and hypocrisy of the upper classes. There is of course massive humour and irony in having Mrs. Fainall uttering these words, as she is hardly able to tut disapprovingly at the weakness of her own sex when she is currently engaging in an adulterous relationship that clearly reveals the same "female frailty" that she bemoans so loudly at this particular juncture in the play.

In fact, if we examine this quote more deeply, we can see that in a sense it acts as a kind of motto or thematic quote for the entire play, as the play itself concerns the way in which truth is decaying and replaced by falsity in the lives of so many characters in terms of what they say and do and who they pretend to be. Truth is in very short supply in this play, and the description of truth "decaying" is therefore very pertinent and relevant.


We’ve answered 317,410 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question