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The Way of the World

3.36  ·  Rating Details ·  2,468 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews
LADY. With Mirabell? You call my blood into my face with mentioning that traitor. She durst not have the confidence. I sent her to negotiate an affair, in which if I'm detected I'm undone. If that wheedling villain has wrought upon Foible to detect me, I'm ruined. O my dear friend, I'm a wretch of wretches if I'm detected.
Paperback, 124 pages
Published November 3rd 2006 by Hard Press (first published 1700)
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Jan 03, 2011 Buck rated it it was amazing
Shelves: histrionics
William Congreve wrote this unspeakably brilliant play at the age of twenty-nine. Then he frittered away the rest of his life on politics, mistresses and gout. At least Orson Welles kept at it and got Touch of Evil made before drifting onto the talk-show circuit and into Carslberg commercials.

For sheer verbal exuberance, no playwright in English even comes close to Congreve (well, okay, there’s that one guy from Stratford ). Just listen to this:

Out of my house, out of my house, thou viper, thou
Rakhi Dalal
Apr 22, 2013 Rakhi Dalal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
What a piece of writing!!Comedy at best! Reminded me of Importance of Being Earnest , but definitely better than that.

Highly recommended for a light reading! Couldn't keep myself from smiling all the time :)
Mar 06, 2012 Andreea rated it it was ok
Shelves: drama, eng-lit-2b
Tedious posh people being tedious and posh.
Jan 08, 2010 Janice rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2007
Confusing and poisonously cynical. I laughed only a once or twice. This is probably something that one must see staged in order to appreciate.
Muhammad Moneib
Light Comedy of Good Old Taste

In a pretentiously conservative society, satire may be the most dangerous form of writing. For once, there's plenty of hypocrisy to pinpoint and make fun of, but as soon as one does this, the satirized will put on their priesthood disguise, hold their weapons, and attack collectively. That's why, perhaps, subtleness is usually the satirical's companion in such a case, one which allows him to convey his message of attacking hypocrisy without explicitly exposing the h
Roy Lotz
Jan 11, 2014 Roy Lotz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
What, Tony, i’faith! What, dost thou not know me? By’r lady, nor I thee, thou art so becravated and so beperiwigged.

Aside from the conspicuous distinction of containing the most English of English words I’ve ever read (beperiwigged!), this Restoration comedy is also an excellent piece of work. I don’t think I’ve ever read a play with such an intricate story. We go from plot to counter plot, to counter-counter plot, as the rather grasping and cunning cast of characters scheme to marry, to elope
Jan 19, 2013 Mutmainna rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
*You can read this review at my website too.*

Let me be honest. When I had started reading the book, it seemed so DAAAMN confusing! I mean all the characters seem to have the same kind of surname! I mean, how am I not supposed to get confused between Mirabell and Millamant? But once I had started to blend in with the storyline I found it to be quite interesting. The title is kind of a complete summary of the play itself. The play shows the 'way' of thought of the people of that society, the 'way'
Nov 06, 2012 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
I have to admit, this was a tough one for me. I think I generally got the gist of everything, but I could probably use the cliffs notes for act 5. I did laugh out loud (literally, on the quiet floor too) while reading this play. The sarcasm, backhanded compliments, and wittiness are pervasive in every snippet of dialogue. The character relationships are complex (you should see my attempt at a chart) and a lot of the names look similar so it's hard to differentiate. Overall I really enjoyed the ...more
Dec 26, 2015 SofiaSevero rated it really liked it
This is one witty, funny comedy I didn't actually expect to like, with characters that would best live in our times than theirs, and demands far more reasonable now than when they were demanded.
It is a shame that the play wasn't well received at the time, but it makes it all the more enjoyable for us to read now. The fierce criticism to puritanism through the mocking of characters in particular is fitting to the post-democracy mood of when it was written, and the romance of course, it's particu
Jun 18, 2008 Teresa rated it it was amazing
Perhaps my favorite Restoration comedy because of the strange way Millamant can take nothing seriously and be so sad at the same time.
Rachel C.
Feb 12, 2017 Rachel C. rated it liked it
This is very typical literature of the long eighteenth century. It was enjoyable to read with lots of silly quips and focus on things that reveal the way society was run back then - reputation was everything, bro.
Jan 31, 2017 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uni, 2017
2.5 stars
Ramprasad Dutta
Feb 10, 2017 Ramprasad Dutta rated it it was ok
Bogus!! B-)
Roaa Aziz
Jan 18, 2017 Roaa Aziz rated it really liked it
I really feel like this play is a challenge?
The interrelated characters and their complicated amoral live lives is oddly enjoyable!
Ana Rînceanu
Mirabell and Millamant want to marry and receive Millamant's full dowry, but Mirabell must receive the blessing of Millamant's aunt, Lady Wishfort. Unfortunately, Lady Wishfort despises Mirabell and wants her own nephew, Sir Wilfull, to wed Millamant.

Sep 20, 2015 dredinol rated it it was amazing
Best to read when you are feeling silly. The names are the best- Fainall, Mincing, Foible, Marwood, and the ridiculous pair of lovers: Millamant and Mirabell.

Millamant's demands before she agrees to marriage are relevant:

MILLA. Ah, don’t be impertinent. My dear liberty, shall I leave thee? My faithful solitude, my darling contemplation, must I bid you then adieu? Ay-h, adieu. My morning thoughts, agreeable wakings, indolent slumbers, all ye douceurs, ye sommeils du matin, adieu. I can’t do’t, ’
Perry Whitford
Apr 25, 2015 Perry Whitford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beneath all the perriwigs and face paint they were rather a wicked rabble, those Restoration period aristocrats.

At least if this popular play from the period - still occasionally performed today - is anything to go by. Pretty much all the characters are either deceiving or being deceived, or both. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Mirabel loves Mrs. Millamant ("Her follies are so natural, or so artful, that they become her") and would quite like to get his hands on her dowry too, but h
Ananya Ghosh
I just finished the book and thought it'd be best to write down my thoughts on it. This isn't going to be much of a review, I'm sorry!

So, I have this habit of reading goodreads reviews of other readers of books that I finish reading and in this book's reviews, I saw people call it as 'light comedy'. Well, truth be told, it is NOT a light comedy! The book is filled with heavy dialogues that are mostly fillers and have no real purpose of being there, except to demonstrate the wit or false wit, in
Simon Mcleish
Feb 25, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in February 2000.

Congreve's play has the theme of hypocrisy and deceit in society, as even some of the characters' names indicate (Fainall, for example). Even Mirabell, the hero (his name indicating that he is admirable), uses a deceitful scheme to bring about the happy ending. Only Millamant, the object of his desire, does not pretend to be anything other than what she really is, though her capriciousness towards Mirabell infuriates him.

Millamant is unable t
Jan 19, 2015 Scott added it
Plays are intended by the author to be acted, not read. This is why reading a play can be such an imaginative challenge, and incredibly satisfying. You have to compose the scenes, the characters, and the settings for yourself. You have to read deeply, carefully, and assign emotions and meanings to the words the characters speak. Novels typically give you all of this. The novelist fills his characters' lives with direction. When you read a play, you must be the director of the story. The degree t ...more
I actually read an online version of this text provided by my teacher as part of my Introduction to Drama course, so this is not the same version I'm writing about, but is the same work. While it is a great example of Restoration Comedy, I personally didn't care for it much. The version we were provided with didn't include any notes or summaries, which I ended up looking up online to help me follow the events, since the language is rather hard to follow even when read slowly and carefully. Fortu ...more
Jul 24, 2013 Lizzy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wem, plays
Why can't books have the dialogue and wit like they use to. It takes talent and cleverness along with mastery of the language to write such a witty satire. I laughed many a time and wish we could use some of these expressions now a days! I find in reading modern literature, most writers have no imagination and will just use profanity and such to convey moods and thoughts.

I did find this play hard to follow as the names were all so similar and there were many characters.

Here are some of my favo
One day I'm going to call someone a 'tatterdemalion ragamuffin'.

Unfortunately the brilliant, exuberant language is eclipsed on the first few readings by the incomprehensible plot. You need to know what's being plotted by who and why before you can understand what's going on, but that isn't revealed until the end. By which time you've probably forgotten what happened in the beginning because four acts of confusion aren't really atttention-grabbing. So then you have to go back and read the whole
Esraa Salah
Dec 01, 2016 Esraa Salah rated it liked it
This play reveals the tough reality that everyone pretends to achieve a desirable matter.
I believe that Mrs.Marwood doesn't love Mirabell it's just a matter of complications in her feelings to fill the error in her character and that she is undesirable woman.
The same for Fainall he doesn't love neither his wife nor his mistress. Because he married his wife for her wealth and he deals with his mistress just for change and to be connected with the woman kind only. To have someone who desires but
Penny Landon
Jan 15, 2013 Penny Landon rated it liked it
Although I was a little apprehensive about reading this play because it was written in 1700, after keeping a summary close by for reference I really enjoyed this play. Not only were the situations that the character get themselves into funny, but their names were as well. How more descriptive of a character can you get than naming them names like Witwoud (would be a wit if he could). The insults thrown between characters are always veiled with complex sentences, which I appreciate more than the ...more
Apr 02, 2012 Stephen rated it it was ok
Shelves: england, 18th-century
This is probably very good on the stage, but on the page it is a chore. Did Congreve really need to give every character a name beginning with an M or a W? The character's love affairs are already crisscrossed in bizarre overlaps; trying to distinguish the names only makes a difficult puzzle impossible. As far as I could tell, the conclusion seemed improbable, the character relationships unnatural, and the humor not exactly funny (with the exception of Petulant, who hires empty coaches to call f ...more
Nov 25, 2014 Danny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"The Way of the World" is the most tedious play I've ever read in my life. It's more "overwrought" than "witty." Maybe I'm not the best person to ask, though, because I dislike English Restoration comedy in general. I hate its artificial complexity and its contrived story lines. It's basically sh*t when compared to the French theatre of the same period. No offense, Restoration-comedy-lovers. But, ya, this is NOT an easy play to read. It takes tons of effort to understand, and one's efforts (I da ...more
Who knew this book would actually be interesting?
The many deceptions and affairs give this play a comedic feel. I didn't like the shakespearean dialects of the characters but of course since this is from the late 1600s it would be in that dialect. I found it hard to follow though. I wish there was a No Fear edition to this book then I could have understood it more. I had to look the plot up on Wikipedia to get what was going on. Otherwise the way that the characters deceive one another creates a
Greg Kerestan
Feb 01, 2016 Greg Kerestan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Way of the World" reads like "The Importance of Being Earnest" on steroids. The wit is wittier, the bitching is bitchier, the characters kiss and quip and scheme and backstab and fall in and out of love like it was going out of style. Congreve was ahead of his time, writing in the Restoration era with a stronger Contemporary Modern English influence than Shakespeare had. The language is still dense, as literature from this era tends to be, but it's the denseness of a rich dark rum cake- ple ...more
Aug 21, 2012 Shriya rated it really liked it
Recommended to Shriya by: Gayatri
Shelves: tome-travelling
The Way of the World is a play I read in transit, on my way from Cambridge to Oxford. Of course it had all the elements of comedy it promised me but maybe after reading too much of Oscar Wilde, nothing is funny enough or amazing enough. Also, one thing that bothered me was there were too many characters with similar names and I had to keep referring to the Dramatis Personae again and again at first. Nevertheless, it is worth a read and if you want to try it, go ahead. It is a pretty entertainin ...more
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"William Congreve was an English playwright and poet.... William Congreve wrote some of the most popular English plays of the Restoration period of the late 17th century. By the age of thirty, he had written four comedies, including Love for Love (premiered 30 April 1695) and The Way of the World (premiered 1700), and one tragedy, The Mourning Bride (1697).

Unfortunately, his career ended almost as
More about William Congreve...

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“But say what you will, 'tis better to be left than never to have been loved. To pass our youth in dull indifference, to refuse the sweets of life because they once must leave us, is as preposterous as to wish to have been born old, because we one day must be old.” 18 likes
“One no more owes one's beauty to a lover than one's wit to an echo” 8 likes
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