The Way of the World

The Way of The World by William Congreve

How do Mirabel and Millimant demonstrate the comedy of manners?

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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 one's position in society. In the climax of the play, the actions and reactions largely stop being concerned with love or even money, and what Lady Wishfort seems to fear most is a loss of good reputation for herself and her daughter. Much of the demonstrated love seen in the show - for example, Witwoud and Petulant's love for Ms. Millamant - is done purely in hopes of raising one's reputation. Fun is made of social etiquette especially in the acting of Petulant, Sir Wilfull, and Sir Rowland, three characters that to varying degrees are unable to live up to upper class standards, but must try to put on a show for others.