What is blocking the primary pair of lovers from each other and what values are represented by that block? 

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both The Way of the World by William Congreve and A Chaste Maid in Cheapside by Thomas Middleton are comedies involving some form of thwarted love, but differ in period and genre. In both cases, the plot and main conflicts revolve around the difference between what the protagonists wish in romantic relationships and what others wish for them.

A Chaste Maid in Cheapside by Thomas Middleton (1580 – 1627) is a Jacobean "city" or "citizen" drama, with the main characters being prosperous tradespeople or members of the lower gentry. There are several different subplots involving marriages in the play, but the central plot involves Moll Yellowhammer, the "chaste maid" of the title, who wishes to marry Touchwood Junior. Her parents, however, want to marry her to Sir Walter Whorehound, not only for his money but because he will help her brother make an advantageous marriage. The main obstacle to the marriage of the young lovers is the parents' desire to see their children make economically advantageous marriages. Thus the desire for money on the part of other people in the play, and a value system that considers money and social position more important than love, is seen as blocking the lovers from achieving their goals.

The Way of the World (1700) by William Congreve is a restoration "comedy of manners", with the main characters being fashionable members of aristocratic London society. The main pair of lovers, Mirabell and Mrs. Millamant, are attracted to one another, but there are several obstacles to their marriage. These obstacles fall into two main categories, jealousy and money. Lady Wishfort and Mrs. Marwood both find Mirabell attractive, and as revenge for his preferring Millamant, try to block their marriage. Money is also an issue. Because half of Millamant's fortune is controlled by Lady Wishfort, she must have Lady Wishfort's approval. Fainall and Mrs. Marwood are also trying to get control of Lady Wishfort's fortune, and thus trying to block the marriage. In The Way of the World, the love of money (materialism) and belief that money and fashion are important are a major obstacles to love. 

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The Way of the World

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