The Way of the World: Top Ten Quotations

“I’d no more play with a Man that slighted his ill Fortune, than I’d make Love to a Woman who undervalu’d the Loss of her Reputation.” p. 1 (Act One) This quotation is taken from the early stages of Act One, where Fainall tells Mirabell that he will play cards with him another time. Fainall’s wit is seen here to depend on comparing the idea of a virtuous woman with a man playing cards for money, and the loss of reputation in a woman is highlighted as a negative attribute.

“More tender, more sincere, and more enduring, than all the vain and empty Vows of Men, whether professing Love to us, or mutual Faith to one another.” p. 21 (Act Two) Here, Mrs Marwood explains to Fainall that she has a sense of obligation to Lady Wishfort. This is one of the significant instances in the play where women, and the relationship between them, are spoken of in affirmative terms.

“You should have just so much disgust for your Husband, as may be sufficient to make you relish your Lover.”p. 24 (Act Two) The ribaldry and irreverent nature of this Restoration play is encapsulated in this quotation, where Mirabell advises Mrs Fainall after she has told him she despises her husband now.

“…when one parts with one’s Cruelty, one parts with one’s Power.” p. 27 (Act Two) Millamant’s words have a Machiavellian tinge and reminds us that this play is concerned with the relationship between the sexes and the control of power.

“All Husbands must, or pain, or shame, endure; The Wife too Jealous are, Fools too secure.”p. 51 (Act Three) This rhyming couplet spoken by Fainall brings Act Three to the end and refers to the jealousy that he sees is embedded in marriage.

“There never yet was Woman made,Nor shall but to be curs’d.” p. 53 (Act Four) These lines are repeated by Millamant and may be read as an oblique reference to the Fall and Eve specifically, and also to the way that patriarchy dominates women’s lives.

“This Insolence is beyond all Precedent, all Parallel, must I be subject to this merciless Villain?” p. 79 (Act Five) Lady Wishfort challenges Fainall’s power in this reference.

“He is as terrible to me as a Gorgon; if I see him, I fear I shall turn to stone, petrifie Incessantly.” p. 80 (Act Five) Lady Wishfort says how she cannot bear to see Mirabell, and the melodramatic language reminds the readers and audience of ‘my Lady’s’ hyperbolic characterization.

“If it must all come out, why let ‘em know it, ‘tis but the way of the World.’ p. 84 (Act Five) This reference is a quotation by Fainall and is just one example of gestures made to the title on the part of the characters.

“From hence let those be warn’d, who mean to wed;Lest mutual falsehood stain the Bridal-Bed: For each deceiver to his cost may find,  That marriage frauds, too oft are paid in kind.” p. 90 (Act Five) This verse comes at the end of the play, and is placed immediately prior to the Epilogue. Its theme of marriage and deception in marriage concludes the action and its warning against such behaviour offers a moral yet playful ending.