(Critical Survey of Literature, Revised Edition)

In the country Loveless and Amanda led a quiet life after a stormy period of marriage troubles. Because Loveless had to go to London rather frequently and because she had reason to doubt his fidelity, Amanda was apprehensive. But Loveless assured her he was temptation-proof; going to London provided a test of his reform.

Young Fashion and his servant Lory called on Sir Novelty Fashion, the new Lord Foppington, young Fashion’s elder brother. Lord Foppington had recently bought a title. Since he was the eldest son, he had plenty of money, although he spent too much as it was. Young Fashion, on the contrary, was destitute. He was minded to join the army as a last resort, but at Lory’s suggestion he resolved to humble himself to ask the new lord to pay his debts. But Lord Foppington was busy with the tailor and the shoemaker and hardly spared his brother a word. Although Lord Foppington was on the point of going out, he did invite his brother to stay and have a home dinner by himself.

Angered by his brother’s attitude, young Fashion determined on revenge. Coupler, a matchmaker who providentially came in, had a plan. Coupler had arranged a marriage between Lord Foppington and Miss Hoyden, wealthy daughter of Sir Tunbelly Clumsey. Lord Foppington was to pay the matchmaker two thousand pounds, but he was afraid the new lord would evade the money agreement. It was decided that young Fashion was to go to Sir Tunbelly’s house and, pretending to be his brother, marry Miss Hoyden. Coupler, in turn, was to receive a fee of five thousand pounds. Young Fashion agreed to the plan, after a hard time fighting off Coupler’s amorous advances.

Loveless and Amanda were installed in their London lodgings and Loveless had already been to the theater. In a confidential mood he told his wife of seeing a beautiful woman in the audience, a woman so handsome he had been unable to keep his eyes off her. Amanda was alarmed, but he told her he admired the woman only in an aesthetic way. Berinthia, Amanda’s widowed friend, came to call. To Loveless’ surprise, she was the woman he had admired in the theater. Because he pretended to be indifferent to Berinthia’s charms, Amanda invited her to stay with them while they were in London.

Lord Foppington also came to call and was quite smitten with Amanda’s beauty. Resolving to make a conquest at once, he drew her aside and declared his love. Amanda slapped his face. Loveless, seeing the fracas, wounded Lord Foppington with his sword. Although the wound was not serious, the surgeon pretended that it was, in order to increase his fee. As Lord Foppington was being carried out, Worthy entered and was also attracted by Amanda’s charms. After the men had all left, Berinthia had a long talk with Amanda about men and love.

Young Fashion determined to make one more attempt before taking revenge on his brother. Once again he told Lord Foppington of his debts and asked for money to settle them. Lord...

(The entire section is 1219 words.)