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The way of the world

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William Congreve's "The Way of the World" represents a large, distinguished, and notorious body of drama-Restoration comedy; and more specifically, it is one of the most brilliant examples of the English "comedy of manners," which gives an external picture of social life, with all its activity, intrigues, and foibles. The chief foreign influence under which it arose is that of Molière, though by no means can all of its traits be traced to his paternity. The type is easily recognizable by its characterization, its plotting, its style, and its morals. Long after we have forgotten the story, the impression of the whole play is almost as sharp as ever, the impression of a gay, unscrupulous social life, and of unparalleled mental agility and cleverness. "The Way of the World," for all its malice, all its irony, all its merriment, is as austere as tragedy, as rarefied as thought itself.

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