in his first plays, THE OLD BACHELOR and THE DOUBLE DEALER, Congreve had already revealed his stage- craft and his mastery of fluent and witty dialogue. LOVE FOR LOVE follows a similar pattern , but is a more explicit social satire . its complicated plot turns on the mercenary motives that were apt to underline a modern marriage.
in THE WAY OF THE WORLD apart from the witty hero, MIrabell,and the delightful heroine, Millamant, none of the characters portrayed possession of the smallest grain of virtue, honesty, high morals.
greed , lust and sexual jealousy seems to govern all their actions. all this gives an insight of the then contemporary london life.
the age of puritanism had ended and immorality , as one might put it was very common.
the fashionable did not care much for high morals . it was the then " way of the world"
since the play revolves around the contemporary london life of that time and their customs , it is very rightly named "the way of the world" as it never fails to give a true picture of the society and social life of the upper class people of london.
for keeping it fairly current the writer turned to the most happening places of that time i.e, the drawing rooms, the coffee houses, the streets and the gardens of london.
loose morals are conveyed through Fainall, mrs. fainall, mrs marwood, and even mirabell.
lady wishfort is very fastidious and chosy about her make up and appearance and does not lag behind any of the sweet sixteens.
the fops , the so called gentle men and false wits of those times must also not escape our attention. represented by witwound and petulant , pay courtship to Millamant for fashion's sake.their favourite pass time is to pass comments on the ladies on the malll and make them blush.Petulant is so obssessed with showing off a high image and to make other gentlemen take notice of him and feel jealous that he hires women to come and ask for him in public.
witwound refuses to recognize his brother wilful because its not a tradition to recognize ones relatives from the country.
On the whole , Congreve paints a damaging picture of contemporary life.
the audience found a reflection of their image on the stage. mostly the fashionable gallants and ladies went to the play to talk, to flirt, to show themselves off in their finest dresses , and to hear the latest scandal, and they saw their own images reflected in the characters of the play .
the theatres became a social centre for the fashionable classes who took possession of it so completely that the ordinary londoner left off going altogether. the cheaper parts of the house were filled with noisy apprentices, footmen and horse boys and the rifff raff of the town, but the merchant , the country gentlemenand the professional men kept strictly away.
it reflected accurately the world it represented, and that this world was morally reprehensible.
You have given a good answer to the question and its helpful to me. What I find in the play that the theme and even the plot is still contemporary for the people of some countries. It seems as if the history repeats itself. Congreve had put a mirror to the people of the Restoration period and now its a mirror to some. End of Puritanism had made people immoral is not true but immorality had ended the Puritanism because the church officials also lost morality. They made the religion a business and as such people lost faith in them.