Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
The plain-dealer, Captain Manly, returns to London after his ship had been sunk in a battle with the Dutch. He is looking for another ship because he dislikes the hypocrisy of the age and wishes to be away from the sycophancy of court and social life. Among the acquaintances who call at his quarters in London is Lord Plausible, who attempts to persuade the captain to seek his ship through influential people instead of waiting for an assignment. Manly demonstrates his love of plain dealing by showing Lord Plausible the door.
After Lord Plausible’s departure, Manly instructs the two sailors who serve him not to admit anyone to his lodgings except his ship’s lieutenant, Freeman. When Freeman arrives, he and Manly discuss the relative merits of plain dealing and hypocrisy. Freeman holds that no one can have a successful career without being hypocritical, but he cannot convince Manly that such a policy is better than telling the truth at all costs.
While they talk, Widow Blackacre forces her way past the sailors and enters Manly’s rooms. Manly makes her welcome because she is a cousin of his fiancé, Olivia. The widow, who is extremely litigious, wants Manly to appear on her behalf at a court hearing the following day. She threatens to have him subpoenaed if he does not appear. Freeman, well aware that the widow has a great deal of money, starts to court her. The widow, who has a son, Jerry, who is almost as old as Freeman, ridicules the idea...
(The entire section is 1196 words.)
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