The Way of the World

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Discuss the way oe the world as restoration comedy of manners.

Ans. Restoration as a historical period was a time when England was an established colonial power in the world. It was a time of materialism and commerce and the people of the period emphasized money, pleasure and sex. Love and marriage were judged in terms of money. Artificiality and immorality were the defining features of the age. People looked towards relaxation and pleasure and serious things mattered less to them. By highlighting these things, The Way of the World exposes the issues of money, love, sex, marriage and in short the behavior of the people of the time in the language of prose. The rakes, fops, gallants and wits are the primary types dealt with in a language that is outwardly brilliant but lacking philosophical and emotional or psychological depth. This makes the play a typical restoration comedy of manners. The mode employed is satiric and ironic which befits the social reality of the time.

In the restoration period there was a moneyed class with leisure. Pursuit of sexual pleasure and money was the main concern of the people. Marriage was not just liked at as an institution for procreation or for providing stability to social life. It was seen as a mercenary venture. The Way of the World contains characters who resort to sexual innuendos and vulgar jokes. Humor and wit are the key ingredients of this play. The characters represent many aspects of the society of the time and the aristocracy in particular. Mirabell is a wit and manipulator. He uses language in a very witty manner. The clever use of language makes his speech brilliant on the surface but it has no psychological depth underneath. He pretends to love Lady Wishfort so that he can move closer to Millament. His eyes are on her fortune. Love and marriage are guided by a desire for material gain. Fainall, the villain of the play is intent on laying his hand on Lady Wishfort’s fortune. He marries Mrs. Fainall not...
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