Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
Sir Philip Luckless, engaged to marry the rich widow, Mistress Fitchow, refused to listen to the protests of his companion, Master Tridewell. Tridewell insisted that the lady was too old and too domineering for the match to be successful, but his warning made no impression upon his friend and kinsman. Doubts did begin to enter the mind of Sir Philip, however, when he was presently brought face to face with Master Widgine, the foolish brother of his bride-to-be, and with Widgine’s equally foolish tutor, the braggart Anvile.
The encounter between this pair and Sir Philip was soon interrupted by the abrupt arrival of a stranger, Mistress Traynwell, who upset Sir Philip by the charge that, in marrying Mistress Fitchow, he was ignoring a prior marriage contract with a young girl under Mistress Traynwell’s care. To strengthen this accusation, the gentlewoman handed him a note signed with the single name, Constance. Sir Philip, confused, immediately thought of a prostitute named Constance Holdup, with whom he had had some previous acquaintance; he hastily assumed that Mistress Traynwell was the prostitute’s unscrupulous agent and unceremoniously dismissed her, calling her a bawd.
Meanwhile, Tridewell boldly decided to intervene in the affairs of Sir Philip by paying a visit to Mistress Fitchow. Hoping to find some way to block the impending marriage, he began to criticize the character and habits of Sir Philip; but Mistress Fitchow proved too...
(The entire section is 1361 words.)
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