One of the most intriguing and seemingly irrelevant scenes in the play The Way of the World by William Congreve occurs when Lady Wishfort deliberates upon the manner in which she should receive the imposter Sir Rowland. Lady Wishfort is discussing the imminent arrival of Sir Rowland and she says,
“Well, and how shall I receive him? In what figure shall I give his heart the first impression? There is a great deal in the first impression. Shall I sit? No, I won't sit, I'll walk,—ay, I'll walk from the door upon his entrance, and then turn full upon him. No, that will be too sudden. I'll lie,—ay, I'll lie down. I'll receive him in my little dressing-room; there's a couch—yes, yes, I'll give the first impression on a couch. I won't lie neither, but loll and lean upon one elbow, with one foot a little dangling off, jogging in a thoughtful way” (Act IV Scene I).
This passage on the surface seems extremely strange and peculiar but in a way the passage symbolizes three key identities seen in three of the main female characters in the play, Mrs. Millamant, Mrs. Fainall, and Lady Wishfort. These three women take on the three positions that Lady Wishfort addresses in the passage above, sitting, walking, and laying. These positions strongly correlate to the type of identities and roles that each of the aforementioned women occupy in the play. The identities of not only these women but in most if not all of the other characters in the play seem to have some element of disguise or dishonesty about them which generates the question of what truly is “identity” in the play. Lady Wishfort’s identity is one of the more intriguing ones to analyze because of the unique and different ways in which she is connected to the other characters in the pla...
... middle of paper ...
... is hidden by her temporary independent or “walking” identity developing into a marriage or “siting” identity. Finally, Mrs. Wishfort’s slight resistance to social expectations, or “laying” identity, is completely eclipsed by the focal point of the play, which is whether or not Lady Wishfort will assume to a marriage or “siting” identity through her marriage to Sir Rowland. All three of these women seem to exist in these identities, but these identities do not seem to reflect their true character. Instead they seem to define and create their identities to hide their true nature and character. Identity becomes a shell to be filled with one’s true self instead of identity being an expression of one’s true self and nature.
"The Way of the World." The Project Gutenberg. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Marriage in William Congreve's Way of the World After Charles II revived theater in 1660, a new kind of comedy, the comedy of manners exploded onto the English drama scene and remained the preferred style of theater for the rest of the century. The aim of these plays was to mock society, or rather to hold it up for scrutiny by those very people whose social world was being characterized on stage. The Way of the World reflects Congreve's personal view of Restoration society and city life, full of its artificiality, rigidity, and formality.... [tags: Papers]
1790 words (5.1 pages)
- A power struggle. Three words encompass the major component of Congreve's play, "The Way of the World." A primary example occurs between the play's two main characters: Mirabell and Millamant when Mirabell asks for her hand in marriage. Known as the "proviso scene", it represents the greatest power struggle in the play--a battle of the sexes. Some see Millamant prevailing to be as powerful if not more so than Mirabell. These "Pro" sided scholars have called the proviso scene an example of equality between the sexes and a literary progression toward the modern woman.... [tags: European Literature]
1203 words (3.4 pages)
- The human race has pondered for thousands of years whether our faults lie in our stars or ourselves, whether we have control over our own destinies. (Shakespeare, ####, p. 9) While Medea may have been a fictional character, her story once again brings that same question into conversation. However, Medea, as a fictional character, lives only within the confines of a morality story and therefore was doomed from the very beginning. Her stars were most definitely faulty, although it wasn’t only fate against her.... [tags: Medea, Jason, Golden Fleece, Greek mythology]
890 words (2.5 pages)
- During the 1700s, England’s plays and literature went through a period referred to as Restoration Drama. Throughout the period, there were quite a few playwrights, such as Dryden, Sheridan, and Congreve, and a few different types of drama introduced to the audiences. Dramas included Heroic and three types of comedies, which will be explicated within the essay. It was just before the 18th century that the comedies were becoming more popular with English audiences. Famous playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan wrote his The School for Scandal at this time.... [tags: Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The School for Scandal]
1370 words (3.9 pages)
- William Carlos Williams uses the examination and expression of details in The Doctor Stories to show various emotions and the readers’ reactions to those emotions. He uses positive emotions such as enchantment, pleasure, excitement, surprise, and a sense of satisfaction to express the upside of a clinical encounter. He also enables the use of negative emotions for expression - disappointment, frustration, confusion, and perplexity. In order to properly identify the varied emotions and reactions to the complex dimensions of clinical encounters in William Carlos Williams The Doctor Stories, one must first understand the what and the how of clinical encounters.... [tags: William Carlos Williams]
1973 words (5.6 pages)
- William Carlos Williams was an American poet as well as a skilled physician in the medical field of pediatrics. Williams received his degree from the University Of Pennsylvania Medical School and operated a medical practice for over forty years in his home in Rutherford, where he delivered over two thousand infants. All this while, he kept the second floor of his home as a writing studio where he composed poetry as well as some of his memoirs as a practicing doctor. The Doctor Stories is a compilation some of the great works written by Williams and was compiled by Robert Coles.... [tags: Medicine, Physician, William Carlos Williams]
858 words (2.5 pages)
- An anonymous speaker once said: “A building is a symbol, as is the act of destroying it. Symbols are given power by people. Alone, a symbol is meaningless, but with enough people, blowing up a building can change the world.” This subject is revealed in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, the concept of power and the loss of power is a dominant idea on the island. This is significant because with little to no power, any order on the island becomes an uproar of chaos. This is demonstrated through objects on the island such as the conch, Piggy’s glasses, and lastly, the war paint.... [tags: Third World, First World, William Golding]
976 words (2.8 pages)
- The World is Too Much With Us by William Wordsworth In William Wordsworth's 'The World is Too Much With Us,' this poem heeds warning to his generation. This warning is that they are losing sight of what is actually important in this world: nature and God. To some people both of these are the same thing '...as if lacking appreciation for the natural gifts of God is not sin enough, we add to it the insult of pride for our rape of His land' (Wordsworth). With his words, Wordsworth makes this message perpetual and everlasting.... [tags: William Wordsworth Poems Poetry Essays]
920 words (2.6 pages)
- The Combray Section of Marcel Proust's Swann's Way The "Combray" section of Marcel Proust's Swann's Way is an extended meditation on an idyllic past. The book begins, though, not with recollections of Combray, but with a description of the narrator's half-asleep state, a state of consciousness where he does not know where, or even who, he is. The expanded memories of his past, then, seem an attempt to establish a stable sense of self, a sense that continually eludes him. In this exploration, which constitutes the entirety of the "Combray" section, we find the narrator, a young man with literary aspirations, struggling to understand the characters of his childhood in a way t... [tags: Swann's Way]
2603 words (7.4 pages)
- The World is Too Much With Us Poem William Wordsworth’s poem is a statement about conflict between nature and humanity. The symbolism in his poem gives the reader a sense of the conviction and deep feelings Wordsworth had. Wordsworth longs for a much simpler time when the progress of humanity was tempered by the restrictions nature imposed. Wordsworth gives a fatalistic view of the world, past and future. The words “late and soon” in the opening verse describe how the past and future are included in his characterization of mankind.... [tags: World Is Too Much With Us]
621 words (1.8 pages)