The Way of the World by William Congreve involves a series of marriages, marriage proposals, and extramarital affairs. As Mr. Fainall says in Act III, Scene 18,
Why, then, Foible’s a bawd, an errant, rank match-making bawd. And I, it seems, am a husband, a rank husband, and my wife a very errant, rank wife,—all in the way of the world.
At this point in the play Mrs. Marwood is having an affair with Mr. Fainall. She overhears a conversation that reveals that Mrs. Fainall is having an affair with Mirabell, and she passes this information on to Mr. Fainall. This quote suggests that these extramarital affairs are commonplace in eighteenth-century British society; Congreve draws his title from this idea.
Both Mr. Fainall and Mirabell have secret plots, or intrigues, that they use to their advantage in the play. Mirabell makes a plan to have his servant, who pretends to be his wealthy uncle, woo Mrs. Wishfort. After she agrees to marry the false uncle, Mirabell plans to reveal his true...
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