Marriage as Negotiation in William Congreve’s “The Way of the World”

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Essay #: 061696
Total text length is 6,851 characters (approximately 4.7 pages).

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Marriage as Negotiation in William Congreve's “The Way of the World”
William Congreve is one of the most well-known playwrights of the Restoration period, and his play “The Way of the World” continues to be his most popular work and the one that is most often staged even today. The play is filled with a large amount of business and legal discussions, mostly having to do with contracts, estates, and similar aspects of personal wealth or the quest for wealth. While at first glance this might seem to make for a boring play, actually the way Congreve works out his plot through his characters makes for an interesting study of early 18th century ideas of law, marriage, and the role of women. In this essay we will try to show how our two...
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.....mannered and superficial social codes and behavior. It may have been shocking at the time for audiences to see a female character depicted as independently negotiating the terms of her own marriage, even though the cards seem to be stacked against her given that someone else still has control over her estate. Though the play is filled with deceptions, in the case of the pre-nuptial negotiation between Mirabell and Millamant the discussion is extremely honest and forthright, but is still far from the old fashioned romantic ideals of more conventional plays.
Work Cited
Congreve, William. “The Way of the World.” Gutenberg Classic Texts Online, 1998. No line numbers. Accessed 21 July 2010 from: http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext98/wwrld10.txt.