The five acts of The Man of Mode are framed by a prologue and an epilogue. Each of them teasingly taunts and even reprimands the members of the audience with the assurance that the matters of concern and manners of behavior that occupy the characters of The Man of Mode faithfully reflect and reproduce the audience’s own. The play itself shows the vanity of human conceit, the self-centered pleasure-seeking of Dorimant, the extravagant vanity of Sir Fopling, the lascivious appetite of Old Bellair, the petulant jealousy of Mrs. Loveit, and the blind and far-from-impregnable virtue of Lady Woodvill.

Etherege mocks the style of the Restoration by the collusion between Young Bellair and Harriet to assume the poses of lovers after they have agreed not to be lovers. They reveal the artifice and superficiality of a conventional liaison as they direct each other in ways to stand and in the gestures to make that signal the appearance of infatuation.