Romantic Relationships In Congreve's The Way Of The World

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Congreve’s The Way of the World consists of various themes and ideas about men and women during the 17th century. Some of these themes that were more prominent in this play included the problem between men and women and the ideal way of maintaining a romantic relationship. The ideas of how romantic relationships should be conducted are also questioned and critiqued by other writers. Of these writers, most of their works complement Congreve’s play. The main concept that he and others had when it came to relationships was to allow women to have more freedom to do as they pleased.
The Way of the World revolves around the idea that relationships, whether romantic or not, only works when the people in the relationship have aspects of freedom from
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To Philips, the companionship between two women (her and Lucasia) are more powerful than a marriage because of the freedom they had. Independent women’s “hearts are doubled” by staying away from men and are able to disperse and learn when engaging with other women (Philips I, 11-15). The reasoning for this was because men did not give them any freedom to begin with, meaning that there was no enjoyment as well. In To One Persuading a Lady to Marriage Philips brings this up, asking why women “should dispose herself to be / A petty household god?”in order to marry someone (Philips II, 7-8). Both Congreve and Philips agreed that a relationship between two people had to have freedom in order to be …show more content…
Men are ever in extremes; either doting or averse. While they are lovers … and when they cease to love (we ought to think at least) they loathe.” (Congreve, 2372).
Using Mrs. Fainall’s character, Congreve conveys the idea of having women be themselves and to avoid men. Doing this will let them be able to engage in friendships that will let them be free to do as they wish. By removing the influence of social etiquette, the power of choice that was once taken away from women is given back. With this implemented men would then be balanced with women. In short: By removing society's influence against women they are able to develop a relationship with men that allows for less dictatorship and more freedom, resulting in a romantic relationship with enjoyment.
Both Astell and Philips agreed with different elements of Mrs. Fainall’s statement. Women were capable of finding themselves according to Philips. However, after they would find themselves it would not matter as it was skewed by the value of marriage. As a result their choices were as free “As angels', who with greedy choice / Are yet determined to their joys” because of men (Philips I, 9-10). Astell agreed with both writers on having women finding their means in life. She also writes: “a woman were duly principled and taught to know the world … women would marry more discreetly, and demean themselves better in a married state than some people say

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