Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Way of the World. a Comedy” as Want to Read:
The Way of the World. a Comedy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Way of the World. a Comedy

3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  1,610 ratings  ·  61 reviews
The 18th century was a wealth of knowledge, exploration and rapidly growing technology and expanding record-keeping made possible by advances in the printing press. In its determination to preserve the century of revolution, Gale initiated a revolution of its own: digitization of epic proportions to preserve these invaluable works in the largest archive of its kind. Now fo...more
Paperback, 92 pages
Published May 29th 2010 by Gale Ecco, Print Editions (first published 1700)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Way of the World. a Comedy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Way of the World. a Comedy

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,514)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Buck
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...more
Rakhi Dalal
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 :)
Andreea
Tedious posh people being tedious and posh.
Mutmainna
*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'...more
Janice
Confusing and poisonously cynical. I laughed only a once or twice. This is probably something that one must see staged in order to appreciate.
Teresa
Perhaps my favorite Restoration comedy because of the strange way Millamant can take nothing seriously and be so sad at the same time.
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...more
Simon Mcleish
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...more
Tiffany
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
Elizabeth
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...more
Daisyjess
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...more
Penny
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
Stephen
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
Elizabeth
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
Chris Schaben
Maybe if I saw this performed I would like it. However, I had to read it and did not understand any of it. The language and plot are both extremely confusing.
Courtney
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...more
Helyn
A confusing plot! Hard to understand what is happening.
Heather
The Way of the World has its funny moments. Indeed, it takes very little seriously. For its place in the scope of Restoration drama, it is also significant. However, Restoration drama as a whole is so characterized by the particularities of time and society that its lasting value is small. The bewildering cast of characters and endless "clever" plot devices are titillating enough for a light evening, but Congreve wasn't aiming for a work of lasting literature, and he didn't accidentally create o...more
Shriya
Aug 26, 2013 Shriya rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Iamadreamer
Had to read it for school. Confusing!!
Mckenzie
Congreve's witty and interesting look at "the way of the world" is a good read. It was hard for me to keep some of the characters straight, but after a while, I got it. Anyway, it is interesting how a lot of the marriage, etc. is focused on material and worldly aspects and not actual love. I also enjoy how none of the characters are-- well, especially likeable. They each have extreme faults, which makes it difficult to penpoint a hero, etc.
Talia Nyx
A little too 18thC for me, and a little too convoluted.
Elisa
4.5

As far as Restoration Literature goes this is a pretty great example. Although Way of the World is roughly 300 years old it is still easy to read today and quite a lot of fun. Historical context isn't a must to enjoy it but it does help with the understanding of a few things.

All in all the love story was cute, the evil characters treacherous, and the ending great. I really enjoyed it.
Cia
Found somewhat disappointing. Difficult to get into, and the comedy of said play didn't kick in until Act 4. Would probably have abandonned had I not been studying it. Glad read to the end and found the views of Millamant to be hilarious- and found myself thinking said views to be rather wise!. Overall, not bad, but imo Oscar Wilde handled such matters better many years later.
Resa
Very confusing plot and not at all reader friendly = a common Restoration comedy. The characters have names that start with the same sounds and it makes for a very unpleasant experience. For the first two acts you have no idea what is going on but then the last act ties everything together. If you have time to re-read it is worth it, but I would not experience torture over.
J. Alfred
I'll be honest: I didn't really understand what was happening in this play. All kinds of social conventions were being mocked, and a bunch of people were all cheating on each other, and the main character may or may not have been an actual good guy. Who knows? The "Way of the World" is stupid, or so I think Congreve is telling us.
Theia
A drawing helped me understand this play.
I loved the language. And I am fascinated by the author's capacity to create and then clear out such an inextricable plot (in 1700!).

WITWOUD [and me in the end]. I'gad, I understand nothing of the matter: I'm in a maze yet, like a dog in a dancing school.
Kathryn Lane
It was ok. Funny in places, this play reviews social sterotypes of days gone by and seems to drag on.

On the one hand it has posh blokes discussing prostitutes.
On the other hand, it throws about seven different names at you at once and hopes you remember them all. This irritated me.
Emily Harris
A play that thrives on confusion - the twisted and tangled threads of social life, pulled together and apart by human machinations. The audience and reader may find themselves in Lady Wishfort's position, 'in a very chaos' (Act 3: Scene 1), but it makes for thrilling drama.
Bryce Emley
only 3 stars because i didn't understand it. probably the most complex play i've ever read. it's kind of a satire and kind of a comedy about upper class frivolity in englad in the 1700s and everyone's cheating on everyone and marrying for money and yada yada social commentary.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 83 84 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Man of Mode
  • The Country Wife
  • The Rivals
  • The Rover
  • The Beggar's Opera
  • All for Love
  • The White Devil
  • Major Barbara
  • Volpone
  • She Stoops to Conquer
  • The Playboy of the Western World & Riders to the Sea
  • Samson Agonistes
  • 'Tis Pity She's a Whore
  • The Revenger's Tragedy
  • Everyman
  • Three Plays: Blithe Spirit / Hay Fever / Private Lives
  • The Wild Duck
  • The Knight of the Burning Pestle
98646
"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
More about William Congreve...
The Way of the World and Other Plays Love For Love Incognita The Comedies of William Congreve The Mourning Bride (Dodo Press)

Share This Book

“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.” 17 likes
“One no more owes one's beauty to a lover than one's wit to an echo” 5 likes
More quotes…