In terms of literal imagery, a major element of the play is the importance of fashion and makeup. This allows for directorial control from the director and costume designer to delineate age, social class, and flirtation through choice of clothes and makeup for both men and women. The scene in Act II in which Lady Wishfort puts on makeup with the help of her servants calls this especially into focus, as she discusses the need and difficulty of altering one's appearance to look as good as a painted picture of oneself.
Dance is another visual element of the play that allows the director some choice. Dance (and song) are employed in scenes at Lady Wishfort's house as a way to demonstrate her lavish wealth, and the use of dance can also immerse the modern audience further in the world of Restoration England with its strict social rules of propriety, compared to today's loose and gender-mixed dancing.
Aside from the visual imagery of a play, Restoration Comedies also employ rich, imagery-laden and metaphorical language to create characters with wit and insight. As in the quote "...[they] fell a sputtering at one another like two roasting apples"(Act III, Scene III), we see that characters need not always demonstrate their emotions through onstage acting but, like in a book, can have added richness by being described by others.
Much of the action of The Way of the World takes place offstage and is related through messengers, servants, and gossip. This means that the intensity and suspense of the show depends upon the relation of offstage action, which is often necessarily imagery-laden. This helps to speed the plot and draw attention to the importance of gossip, reputation, and communication.
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.
A Comedy of Manners is named as such to call attention to one of its most central themes - manners, or social etiquette, and the comedy that can ensue because of the importance, especially to the upper class during the Restoration, of preserving...