Wit, the skill most valued by the Restoration, depends upon a masterful use of irony if it is to convey an author’s message. Many of the characters engage in wordplay and double entendre as they converse with each other. Though Congreve uses verbal irony to great effect in this play, his use of structural or dramatic irony is even more evident. Characters scheme to get things only to have their plans backfire in particularly ironic ways. Tattle’s plan to marry Angelica while they are in disguise, for instance, ends with him being married to Mrs. Frail, who is...
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