Dwindling Into A Wife? Millament in ‘The Way Of The World’


Have you any more conditions to offer? Hitherto your demands are pretty reasonable.

Trifles; as liberty to pay and receive visits to and from whom I please; to write and receive letters, without interrogatories or wry faces on your part; to wear what I please, and choose conversation with regard only to my own taste; to have no obligation upon me to converse with wits that I don’t like, because they are your acquaintance, or to be intimate with fools, because they may be your relations. Come to dinner when I please, dine in my dressing- room when I’m out of humour, without giving a reason. To have my closet inviolate; to be sole empress of my tea-table, which you must never presume to approach without first asking leave. And lastly, wherever I am, you shall always knock at the door before you come in. These articles subscribed, if I continue to endure you a little longer, I may by degrees dwindle into a wife.

Part of the marriage proposal between Mirabell and Milament, from ‘The Way of the World’ by William Congreve (1670-1729). You can read the whole scene here. The conditions seem pretty reasonable to me!

Below is a clip from the Chichester Festival Arts Theatre promoting its 2012 production:

Double-dealing, pretence and seduction abound as Mirabell sets out to marry Millamant. But to wed her with her fortune intact, he must outwit her aunt, the vain and fanciful Lady Wishfort, who despises Mirabell and wants Millamant to marry Sir Wilfull Witwoud. With great wit and dazzling dialogue, this sublime comedy of manners exposes a superficial society in which love and money are inextricably bound. William Congreve holds up a mirror to his own world as delicious verbal battles of the sexes are played out amid the scheming of fools, fops, rivals and villains.

About layanglicana

Author of books on Calcutta, Delhi and Dar es Salaam, I am now blogging as a lay person about the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. I am also blogging about the effects of World War One on the village of St Mary Bourne, Hampshire.
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