EDreossi – The Way of the World: Millamant’s conditions
Before you read:
1) Do you think marriage can limit one’s personal freedom?
I don’t think so, because when you love somebody, in a certain sense you feel free with him or her, but it’s also important to do not forget your own spaces. Everybody needs a moment in which he or she can reflect, a moment in which you are alone. I mean, stay with someone is the best thing in the world, but you have to underline you spaces, for a better couple’s life. As a matter of fact, you can try to resolve your problems alone, for example, not involving the partner. And this means less problems, which can make you more happy.
Can love alone guarantee happiness?
I hope so, but sincerely I don’t think so. It may make you happy, but it doesn’t guarantee your happiness. There are so much bad things in the world that can make you said, more than good things. Being objective, I think money is the best industry of happiness. They can change your life, also love can do it, but you can’t live of love, especially today.
2) What does Millamant want from marriage? What doesn’t she want?
a) She wants to get up late whenever she feels like it;
b) She doesn’t want to be called names. She doesn’t bear those nauseous names;
c) She doesn’t want to be seen with her husband in fashionable places, to provoke only eyes and whispers;
d) She wants to mutually respect each other as strangers or as an old married couple would;
e) She wants to be free to choose her own friends;
f) She doesn’t want to let her husband enter her private quarters whenever he likes, he shall always knock at the door before he comes in.
3) Consider Millamant’s character: what’s she like? Choose from the following:
I think she is intelligent and wise. But in my opinion she is also witty.
4) In Congreve’s time, women were expected to submit to their partners’ or to their husbands’ authority. Do you think Millamant conforms to the ideas of the time? Why or why not?
No, I don’t think so, Millamant’s conditions to marry Mirabell explain my idea perfectly. Absolutely she doesn’t want to submit to his future husband’s authority. She wants to underline her power to do whatever she wants ( to get up late, ...), especially without the consent of her husband.
5) Notwithstanding, Millamant accepts the institution of marriage. How does she manage to protect her rights to privacy and independence?
To protect her liberty, she decides to marry Mirabell only upon certain conditions, which limit her husband’s power and authority of her and underline her spaces and her independence to do whatever she wants. Although she loves him, her attitude to marriage is not predominantly sentimental. They are aware of the importance of money. As a matter of fact Millamant sees the marriage as a contract, based on a consent and on conditions.
Which of the following statements is correct?
Her acceptance of marriage is based on a mutual agreement.
6) Are you able to explain the meaning of the comedy’s title and how it is connected to the passage you have read?
The plays deal with the amorous conflicts of men and women and they are based on satirical observation of the social behaviour (manners) of the upper classes. These plays underline the licentiousness, hypocrisy and moral weaknesses of the aristocracy and the new bourgeoisie in matters of love and marriage, satirizing the way of characters behave in society. As a matter of fact the title The Way of the World reminds the manners and behaviours (ways) of the world, and so of the society. The passage I read is exactly the satire of one of the behaviours that two lovers can have.
7) Imagine you were to prepare a TV talk with experts on Restoration comedy.
London theatres closed in 1642 by the Puritans opened again in 1660 when the monarchy was restored in England. The most popular form in Restoration Drama was a new genre of comedy, the comedy of manners (to distinguish it from the Jansonian comedy of humours), inspired by the emancipation of women and the looser moral standards in society. The plays deal with the amorous conflicts of men and women and they are based on satirical observation of the social behaviour (manners)of the upper classes. These plays underline the licentiousness, hypocrisy and moral weaknesses of the aristocracy and the new bourgeoisie in matters of love and marriage, satirizing the way of characters behave in society.
The master of the form was William Congreve whose masterpiece, The Way of the World (1700), is the most brilliant expression of the spirit of the Comedy of Manners. His work has the aristocratic and witty elegance of early restoration comedy, with his use of sub-plot, sparkling dialogue, his themes, characters and settings. Restoration comedy uses exclusively prose for its comic dialogues. The characters represent contemporary upper class men and women and the settings are the places where these men and women really met. The dialogues are quick, clever and full of irony: they are full of wit (the ability to combine words and ideas to convey a clever type of humour). Not all the characters are wits, some of them would like to be and they are called witwoud, a satire of all would-be wits. The names of the characters reveal something about them: Millamant (thousands lovers), Mirabell (person who loves beautiful things) and Fainall (someone who pretends to be what he is not). The dialogues contains formal language, abounding in figures of speech and epigrams. Wit and word-play were the most striking features of the character’s language. These plays were written in prose,unlike the tragedies. One important innovation was the introduction of actresses to play the female roles.