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MonkeyNotes-The Way of the World by William Congreve
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A messenger comes in with a letter for Witwoud from his half-
brother, Sir Wilfull Witwoud, the nephew of Lady Wishfort
(who is also Millamantís aunt). Fainall reasons that if Mirabell
were to marry Millamant, then he would be related to Sir
Wilfull Witwoud. The audience learns from the ensuing
conversation that Sir Wilfull Witwoud has come to town to
equip himself for travel. Fainall describes Sir Wilfull Witwoud
as "an old mixture of bashfulness and obstinacy," who is as
lovable as the monster in the Tempest (a Shakespeare play)
when he is drunk. His half-brother, Witwoud, is a little better
since he possesses a little wit. During this discussion Witwoud
himself enters. He appears to be immensely distressed by the
letter from his brother. He then criticizes his friend, Petulant,
who has just beaten him at a game of cards. Fainall tells
Witwoud that he should allow Petulant to win at cards since he
(Witwoud) monopolizes all the wit between them. However,
Witwoud defends his friend and asserts that he too possesses
"an odd sort of small wit." Then Witwoud's loyalty towards his
friend wavers. While he patronizingly defends Petulantís faults,
he dismisses him as a "rogue," who has had "no more breeding
than a bum-bailey." The chief fault that Witwoud finds in
Petulant is his tendency to lie.

At this moment a coachman enters with a message from three
ladies who are waiting outside for Petulant. Witwoud hints that
the ladies waiting for Petulant are prostitutes, hired to come to
call on him. Soon Petulant arrives. He is very irritated at being
visited at an unusual hour and refuses to see the ladies waiting
outside. Harmless joking ensues, and Witwoud praises
Petulantís wit. Betty, the waiting-maid, comes in with the news
that the ladies have left in great anger. This does not affect
Petulant, who sarcastically says that anger is good for the
complexion and saves makeup.

Fainall says that Petulant is courting Millamant and claims that
this drama with the three ladies has been enacted to convince
Millamant that he has forsaken the entire female sex for her.
This comment angers Mirabell, who vows to cut Petulantís
throat. But Petulant coolly says that he knows that there are
other throats, which deserve Mirabellís attention. He insinuates
that an uncle of Mirabellís has arrived in town and lodges near
Lady Wishfortís house. If this uncle should marry and have a
child, Mirabell will be disinherited and lose his fortune. Both
Witwoud and Petulant are also Millamant's admirers, but they
are courting her only because it is the fashion to chase after the
currently reigning beauty. Witwoud says that he would not
break his heart for her. He thinks that Mirabell will not have
Millamant, since Lady Wishfort hates him. He does, however,
see Mirabellís uncle as a potential rival because Lady Wishfort
would encourage a match between him and Millamant.

Mirabell declares that he does not wish to discuss the subject
any further and asks Fainall whether he will accompany him to
the Mall where the ladies are waiting for them. All the men
agree to leave for a walk in the park.

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MonkeyNotes-The Way of the World by William Congreve

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