THE WAY OF THE WORLD – Monologue (Lady Wishfort)

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A monologue from the play by William Congreve

NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Way of the World. William Congreve. Morrisville: Lulu Press, 2008.


Me? What did the filthy fellow say? [Pause.] Ods my life, I’ll have him—I’ll have him murdered. I’ll have him poisoned. Where does he eat? I’ll marry a drawer to have him poisoned in his wine.

I’ll send for Robin from Locket’s —immediately. A villain! Superannuated?! Audacious villain! Handle me? Would he durst? Frippery? Old frippery? Was there ever such a foul-mouthed fellow?

I’ll be married to-morrow, I’ll be contracted to-night. Will Sir Rowland be here, say’st thou? When, Foible? Frippery? Superannuated frippery? I’ll frippery the villain; I’ll reduce him to frippery and rags, a tatterdemalion !—

I hope to see him hung with tatters, like a Long Lane pent-house , or a gibbet thief. A slander-mouthed railer! I warrant the spendthrift prodigal’s in debt as much as the million lottery , or the whole court upon a birthday.

I’ll spoil his credit with his tailor. Yes, he shall have my niece with her fortune, he shall. He has put me out of all patience. I shall never recompose my features to receive Sir Rowland with any economy of face.

This wretch has fretted me that I am absolutely decayed. Look, Foible. Let me see the glass. Cracks, say’st thou? Why, I am arrantly flayed: I look like an old peeled wall.

Thou must repair me, Foible, before Sir Rowland comes, or I shall never keep up to my picture. But art thou sure Sir Rowland will not fail to come? Or will he not fail when he does come?

Will he be importunate, Foible, and push? For if he should not be importunate I shall never break decorums. I shall die with confusion if I am forced to advance—oh no, I can never advance;

I shall swoon if he should expect advances. No, I hope Sir Rowland is better bred than to put a lady to the necessity of breaking her forms. I won’t be too coy neither—I won’t give him despair.

But a little disdain is not amiss; a little scorn is alluring.

Read the play here

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