Mr. Fainall is a married man, but his closest relationship is to his mistress, Ms. Marwood. He plots to get money out of his wife's mother, Lady Wishfort, after finding out from his mistress that his wife, Mrs. Fainall, married him while in a relationship with Mirabell.
Mr. Edward Mirabell (Mirabell/Mir.)
A young man, once a womanizer, is now honestly in love with Mrs. Millamant, a young, attractive, intelligent woman. He is perhaps the closest to a protagonist in the play, and drives the plot with his scheme to get Ms. Millamant's aunt, Lady Wishfort, to approve a marriage between them.
Anthony Witwoud (Withwoud/Wit.)
Anthony Witwoud is a suitor of Ms. Millamant and half-brother to Sir Wilfull Witwoud. He serves as a supporting, comedic character.
Petulant is another suitor of Ms. Millamant, and is often seen with Witwoud. He is another supporting, comedic character, especially for his ineptitude with speech and wit.
Sir Wilfull Witwoud (Sir Wil.)
Sir Wilfull is half-brother to Anthony Witwoud and nephew to Lady Wishfort. He comes to town to prepare to go abroad, but is swept up in the plot because Lady Wishfort wishes him to marry Ms. Millamant. He is a bumbling man, inept with the social fashions of the town and with attempts to pursue Ms. Millamant romantically.
Mirabell's servant. In accordance with Mirabell's directions, he marries Foible, Lady Wishfort's servant, but then pretends to be a well-bred man named Sir Rowland to trick Lady Wishfort into a fake engagement.
Lady Wishfort (Lady Wish.)
Lady Wishfort is a bitingly mean, witty, wealthy, old lady. She is the aunt of Miss Millamant and controls half, 6,000 pounds, of Millamant's inheritance. She is uncomfortable with her age and looks, and this allows Mirabell's plot with the fake Sir Rowland to succeed as far as it does.
Mrs. Millament (Miss Millament/Mrs. Mil)
Ms. Millament is the young lady whom Mr. Mirabell and many others love. She has a large inheritance of 12,000 pounds, but is attempting to secure half of it which is held by her aunt, Lady Wishfort. However, Lady Wishfort wants Ms. Millament to marry Sir Wilfull Witwoud.
Mrs. Marwood (Miss Marwood/Mrs. Mar.)
Mrs. Marwood is the mistress of Mr. Fainall, a married man. She is a nosy woman, bitter because her love for Mirabell is not returned, and this leads her to reveal his scheme to Fainall and later Lady Wishfort herself after overhearing it while in a closet.
Mrs. Arabella Fainall (Mrs. Fain.)
Mrs. Fainall had a relationship with Mirabell before marrying Fainall, and is still friends with him and an aid in his scheme. She is daughter to Lady Wishfort, so their reputations in the climax are closely tied.
Foible is servant to Lady Wishfort and is integral to Mirabell's plot, marrying Waitwell and then introducing the idea of Sir Rowland to Lady Wishfort.
The Way of the World Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Way of the World is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
The most important salient trait is that of appearances..... specifically, the appearance of having a good reputation. Over the course of the novel, we learn that good reputations are desires but not consciously worked for..... they are not...