The Man of Mode

Spectacles and Pitfalls of Performance in The Man of Mode

August 16, 2019 by Essay Writer

George Etherege’s The Man of Mode criticizes the rakish society in which it is set, yet is more critical of the foolishness and desperation that women display in pursuit of romantic love, as by-products of the rakish ideals. In particular, Bellinda and Mrs. Loveit employ performance and deception in romantic pursuits and become disempowered spectacles as a result. Although various characters exhibit theatrical behaviors in the play, these women fall victim to their own theatricality, as their deliberate performances within the narrative make them into central spectacles of the criticisms embodied by the play. Bellinda and Dorimant set the play off with corresponding acts of deceptive performance culminating in eventual unequal degrees of censure for their actions. When Bellinda deceives Mrs. Loveit first through pretending to think Mrs. Loveit was the vizard entertaining Dorimant at the theatre the previous night, she stages the interaction with fluid conversation, directing it in such a way that Mrs. Loveit is unnecessarily distraught. This cruelty is heightened by the fact that Bellinda stresses Dorimant’s treatment of the “mask” was “with more respect than the gallants do a common vizard” and that both Bellinda and Dorimant claim to believe that the woman was Mrs. Loveit merely for their own convenience and amusement (McMillin 107). It is apparent that Bellinda aims to upset Mrs. Loveit more than necessary in order to carry out the deception when she tells her “Till the play was done, and then led her out; which confirms me it was you,” but prior to fooling Mrs. Loveit, Bellinda reveals in an aside that “nothing but love could make [her] capable of so much falsehood” (McMillin 107, 108). The confession equips Bellinda with human qualities so she can be sympathized with, but it also robs her character of dignity. She is portrayed as pathetic since she is aware of Dorimant’s tendencies—is willing to deceive her friend for him—yet is blinded by her feelings and rendered powerless against his motives. The fact that Bellinda wore the mask not only gave forth the impression of her coquetry and artificiality, but it made her into a spectacle, which is taken further when she and Bellinda publicly criticize his actions. Bellinda’s words “Do not think of clearing yourself with me. It is impossible. Do all men break their words thus” only make her look foolish for having believed him rather than harming his reputation (McMillin 163). In combination with her earlier run-ins with being exposed, this scene gives her character questionable morals as well as falseness.Female powerlessness in the face of Dorimant’s whims is an implicit theme throughout. The first scene shows another invented role for Dorimant, in his letter to Mrs. Loveit. As he refers to her as a last resort, his letter that reads “I never was a lover of business, but now I have a just reason to hate it, since it has kept me these two days from seeing you” has the effect of creating satire surrounding his courtship rituals and the false persona he creates (McMillin 94). This scene criticizes the way Dorimant uses women which is emphasized by Medley’s statement that he “love[s] mischief well enough to forward this business [him]self” and also by Dorimant’s confession that he has not had the “pleasure” of upsetting a woman or making her sullen for three days (McMillin 94). However, this subtle critique is nowhere near as salient as the portrayal of Mrs. Loveit as erratic when she demands “Tell me, for I will know, what devil masked she was, you were with at the play yesterday” and cries “Horror and distraction seize you! Sorrow and remorse gnaw at your soul and punish all your perjuries to me” (McMillin 109). Mrs. Loveit’s reaction to Dorimant’s misogyny strikes the reader as outrageous and excessive; although she is showing honest emotion, the fury she evokes when she tears her fan into pieces and weeps, among Dorimant’s and Bellinda’s calculated deception and their relative calmness, becomes a spectacle more satiric than the earlier description of the very misogyny at work. As a result of their respective theatrical acts as plots to counter the inevitability of Dorimant’s libertinism, Bellinda and Mrs. Loveit are depicted as vapid and as singularly focused on acquiring Dorimant’s love. These characterizations of the women also take into account that they know better than to continually seek out Dorimant’s affection, as they both explicitly state, for example, when Bellinda says “H’as given me the proof which I desired of his love; but ‘tis a proof of his ill nature too. I wish I had not seen him use her so” and when Mrs. Loveit says, “Oh, that my love would but be calm awhile, that I might receive this man with all the scorn and indignation he deserves” (McMillin 112, 151). Despite Mrs. Loveit’s awareness of Dorimant’s ill intentions and his past deception, her desire for Dorimant to have feelings for her causes her to use Sir Fopling as heedlessly as she would use a stage prop and to flirt with him to arouse Dorimant’s jealousy, which she admits shamelessly when she says “’Tis the strongest cordial we can give to dying love. It often brings it back when there’s no sign of life remaining” (McMillin 129). Mrs. Loveit takes such measures as molding her personality to be compatible with Sir Fopling’s by discussing fabrics and gloves and gossiping about “all the ill-fashioned things [they] meet” to provoke Dorimant’s jealousy (McMillin 130-31). The degree of desperation that governs this performance is revealed when Mrs. Loveit and Dorimant have a subsequent argument and after telling Dorimant that she is indifferent towards him and she prefers Sir Fopling, she pleads with Dorimant to stay, saying “I hate that nauseous fool, you know I do” (McMillin 154). Since this betrays to Dorimant her intentions in engaging Sir Fopling that night, Mrs. Loveit resolves to quit the staging of her false feelings; again, because her feelings are intense, Mrs. Loveit is made to look like a fool, especially when Dorimant, with ambiguous intent, asks her to satisfy his love and she responds that she would “die to satisfy that” (McMillin 154). When Mrs. Loveit refuses to act out this role Dorimant suggests to salvage his vanity and ego, ironically, he calls Mrs. Loveit false and allows her to see that he is toying wit her emotions. Still, her jealousy of the supposed mysterious woman he was with cause her desire to “pluck her mask off, and expose her bare-faced to the world” (McMillin 154-56). Mrs. Loveit’s anger and “restlessness” is genuine, yet she strikes the reader and Bellinda as volatile and her emotional responses are conveyed as potentially humorous. Her sincerity, since she is not composed, causes her feelings to be exposed repeatedly and made into social critique. It also renders her silent in the end, when Harriet mocks her fixation on Dorimant, calling him Mrs. Loveit’s “God almighty;” Harriet’s condescending insult echoes societal judgment, solidifying it as the perspective for the narrative (McMillin 165). These women, because of the goals of their theatrical endeavors, are portrayed as narrowly focused, as relentlessly devoid of self-respect, and self-interested at the expense of others. They are the epitome of women fallen and rendered voiceless to the male-dominated libertine society.Dorimant escapes a similar depiction even though he is more false and more characteristically ill intentioned than Mrs. Loveit and Bellinda. Although he is immersed in a misogynistic lifestyle, such a role in a man is more widely accepted than the role of a sightless or fallen woman. Since Dorimant does not turn himself into a spectacle, he is able to live his life unhindered. There are glimpses of punishment for Dorimant that suggest that his theatrical tendencies—such as over-stating his regard for certain women, being implicit in deceiving them for sport, and pretending to be Mr. Courtage to win the favor of Harriet’s mother—are shameful. However, his misfortunes are few and short-lived. While Dorimant invokes theatricality for courtship, like the women, this quality is more accepted in a man, perhaps because his focus is less singular, and people see him as less desperate. Dorimant’s jealousy when he sees Sir Fopling and Mrs. Loveit together serves as a repercussion for deceiving Mrs. Loveit, but he retains a superior stance because she all but admits that her actions were to provoke him (McMillin 130, 154). Bellinda and Mrs. Loveit were degraded to foolishness and insipidity by their performances in respect to Dorimant, whereas Dorimant’s performances had a neutral influence over his reputation and affairs. However, Harriet, in connection with Dorimant, manipulated theatricality to her advantage and redeemed Dorimant’s character.Harriet employed mimicry and performance as a means of separating herself from the typical members of society that she was among and simultaneously drawing Dorimant to her, which glorified them both by association. Within the narrative of the play, her manipulations of theatricality always successfully diverted any of the corrupt attention from influencing her character, diverted an undesired marriage, and she stands as the model of empowerment through careful use of performance. Harriet is never a spectacle, although her bold use of imitation as commentary on Dorimant’s behavior proved an enigmatic method of attracting him to her. Harriet is the antithesis of artificiality and falsehood as evidenced by her criticisms on the dissolute society, such as when she tells Young Bellair “He’s agreeable and pleasant, I must own, but he does so much affect being so, he displeases me” (McMillin 124). Harriet’s very perception of the affectation present in Dorimant is what makes her desirable to him. The narrative progresses in such a way that, although ultimately the patriarchal atmosphere of the setting is the reason for women to fall to obsessing over courtly love like Mrs. Loveit and Bellinda do, Harriet is admired for her individuality among the others. Along with this uniqueness comes a common tendency for her to imitate actions to serve various purposes, namely, to pretend there is a flirtation between her and Young Bellair so that they can outsmart their relatives, and to call out Dorimant for displaying artifices (McMillin 116, 126). As Harriet is starkly contrasted against the other women, her purposes for performance of this kind are nearly opposite theirs. In mocking Dorimant’s affectations and having sound distance from and resistance to Dorimant’s charms, Harriet is able to reach him in a way no other woman can. When Harriet accuses Dorimant of begging “the ladies’ good liking with a sly softness in [his] looks and a gentle slowness in [his] bows,” her complete lack of artifices surfaces as the only force that can redeem his character somewhat, so that he doesn’t end up dissipated, the way Mrs. Loveit and Bellinda are damaged (McMillin 126). Her unique perspective and her resistance to immersion in the cultural atmosphere deflect the potential for her theatricality to represent the play’s core critiques.The play suggests that women’s deliberate use of theatricality for courtship by means of artifices or disguises degrades them and turns them into spectacles. While Harriet has individuality and certain related merits, the enigmatic role she plays by virtue of being so oppositional to the other women degrades them further. Since her theatrical intentions are carried out cleverly and discerningly, she is a heroine among the corrupt. She will not fall into spectacle like Mrs. Loveit and Bellinda, and her use of performance, instead, empowers herself and Dorimant, redeeming his character from his prior pitfalls that the society partially condemns and partially accepts. Although it cannot be exclusively attributed to one character, Mrs. Loveit’s and Bellinda’s final silence is aggravated by all of the events that suggest women must marry and be validated by a man, yet condemn women who focus too exclusively on such matters.Works Cited:McMillin, Scott. Restoration and Eighteenth-century Comedy. New York: W.W. Norton &, 1997. Print.

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Contrasting the Roles of Women in Restoration and Early 18th Century Dramas

May 23, 2019 by Essay Writer

When studying Restoration and early 18th century drama, a predominant theme that appears is the suppression of women. Plays from Vanbrugh’s The Relapse to Etherege’s The Man of Mode utilize humor, wit, and satire to criticize the imprudence and vulnerability of women. Furthermore, not only do playwrights cast women figures as weak and insufficient, they also emphasize the dependency women place on men as they cannot rise in a society restricted by legal and social biases. In Congreve’s The Way of the World, however, the heroine named Millamant seems to rise above the inequality between men and women. Cast in a new light, Millamant differs from other heroines like Etherege’s Harriet and Vanbrugh’s Amanda. By portraying Millamant as a more feminist heroine, one who has not only wealth and wit but also social grace and intelligence, Congreve shows a transition of the fashionable society at the turn of the 18th century. By examining the love relationships between Amanda and Loveless in Vanbrugh’s The Relapse and Millamant and Mirabel in Congreve’s The Way of the World, it becomes transparent that Millamant is more of a feminist heroine than Amanda. The names of the two characters, Amanda and Loveless, is already an indication of unbalanced and unreciprocated love. Amanda’s name suggests love (amor), exemplified by her faithfulness to her husband as seen throughout the play as she retains her virtue, despite Berinthia’s attempt to arouse her in jealousy so that she would sleep with Worthy. Loveless, as his names reveals, is a man that cannot love; his only quality lies in his ability to lust and woo other women. As their names suggest, Loveless and Amanda’s marriage end in failure as Loveless “seizes” Bellinda while Amanda remains faithful. Similarly, Vanbrugh’s The Relapse establishes an anti-feminist theme as he limits his female character’s voice. As Amanda confesses that her “fears are founded on [her] love” and pleads for her husband to not leave for London, Loveless guilt trips her by claiming “your love then is not founded as it ought, for if you can believe ‘tis possible I should again relapse to my past follies, I must appear to you a thing of such an undigested composition” (I.i.129-3). Unable to persuade her husband to stay, Amanda reclines in silence, saying “I’ll therefore trouble you no longer with [her fears]” (I.i.139-40). Through this relationship lacking in mutual affection and loyalty, Vanbrugh is able to emphasize the weaknesses of women in power and in voice. By contrast, Mirabel and Millamant seem to share an equal level of power, voice, and faithfulness. Mirabel greatly contrasts Loveless in that he is not a rake figure. Whereas Loveless is a claimed reformed libertine, Mirabel is a claimed lovesick gentleman. From the inception of The Way of the World to the very end, Mirabel’s love and affection for Millamant is founded on the principles of faithfulness, commitment, and devotion. Millamant differs from Amanda in that first, she has not lost her sex appeal. Although she knows Mirabel is in love with her, Millamant affects a modest and coy demeanor, allowing Mirabel to try even harder to gain affection from her. Amanda, on the other hand, no longer dresses to attract her husband, thereby boring his mind and quenching his passion for her. Furthermore, Millamant does not sink to silence. Upon her marriage negotiations with Mirabel, she states everything that she desires in keeping, from the dressing table to her right to converse with others. More importantly, whereas Amanda seems to suffer all the betrayals of marriage, it is Mirabel in The Way of the World that must suffer temporarily for the sake of marrying Millamant by having to first gain Mrs. Wishfort’s approval. Ultimately, the happy ending Congreve designs for Mirabell and Millamant allows Millamant to be seen in a more feminist light. By analyzing Millamant from Congreve’s The Way of the World and Harriet in Etherege’s The Man of Mode, one observes a stark contrast in how each playwright delineates their female heroine. Harriet, the heroine in Etherege’s play, is depicted as “fine, easy, clean shape” (I.i.138). She possesses natural beauty and wit, wealth and morals. In fact, unlike the other female characters in The Man of Mode, Harriet appears to bring hope for the other women who have fallen as she retains her virtue and disguises her emotions toward Dorimant, the rake. In addition, her decisions are bold and courageous, free from “hoods and modesty, masks and silence, things that shadow and conceal” (III.i.25-26). Unfortunately, though Etherege contrasts the free-spirited, independent Harriet from all the other female characters in the play, she ultimately falls into the hands of Dorimant and becomes another of his possession. Even when Dorimant renounces “all the joys I have in friendship and in wine” and “sacrifice to [Harriet] all the interest I have in other women” (V.ii.152-154), Harriet’s love for him hinders her from carefully examining the sincerity of his motives. Harriet’s final form of surrender lies in her submission to the values of marriage, thus reaffirming the anti-feminist notion that women do not have a place in society apart from men. Congreve’s portrayal of Millamant in The Way of the World shares both similarities and differences to Etherege’s portrayal of Harriet. Like Harriet, Millamant is also young and beautiful, determined and witty. Showing a great disdain for the male race, Millamant refrains from being seen as foolish and desperate as Lady Wishfort and stands in the company of “fops” to not get consumed by the plotting and scheming of other characters like Mrs. Marwood and Foible. In addition, she is deemed wealthy, or at least potentially wealthy, because her aunt, Lady Wishfort, is extraordinarily affluent. In this way, both Harriet and Millamant are delineated as seemingly independent, witty, and beautiful. Although Millamant and Mirabell are clearly in love with each other, the inevitability of marriage for a woman still exists. There is, however, a slightly more feminine delineation of Millamant as Congreve allows her to compromise and negotiate within the marriage. Not wanting to sacrifice her full independence, Millamant declares “I’ll never marry unless I am first made sure of my will and pleasure” (IV. 178-9). She further lists her requirements and demands, from “I won’t be called names after I’m married” to “let us be as strange as if we had been married a great while,” Millamant refuses to relinquish her liberty. In addition, seeking independence within her marriage, Millamant states that she will have the freedom “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 test…” (IV.213-7). There is a gender conflict as Mirabel also attempts to reaffirm his masculine control over his intended marriage to Millamant. Through Mirabel and Millamant’s faithfulness to each other as well as their reciprocated teasing and affection apparent in their relationship, Congreve depicts women and men as equally controlling and capable. Therefore, whereas gender behaviors are once often confined to social conventions, Congreve introduces a relationship in which independence and love are intertwined. In the end, Congreve establishes a balance of intimacy and autonomy in their relationship; Millamant refuses to be possessed by her husband, Mirabel, and Mirabel rejects her wife’s vain fashions and female gossip and intrigue. Because Mirabel’s love for Millamant is so great, he too relinquishes a part of his role as a masculine figure and submits to Millamant as he calls her “a Whirlwind.” Therefore, Millamant is more of a feminist heroine than Harriet because her relationship with Mirabel preserves not only the fidelity of marriage, but also the love and affection. Whereas there is a possibility of Dorimant meeting Bellinda again even after his declared loyalty to Harriet, there is a consistency and persistency in Mirabel’s faithfulness to Millamant. Congreve’s 18th century play The Way of the World portrays the heroine in a different light than we have seen in other Restoration comedies. Although marriage is still a common thread in the aforementioned plays, Millamant, in The Way of the World, is able to find independence and autonomy within her marriage. By comparing the ways female heroines are depicted and how love relationships function in Vanbrugh’s The Relapse and Etherege’s The Man of Mode, it is clear that Congreve’s Millamant rises above the inequality between men and women, establishing a newfound unity in marriage.

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Treatment of Women in The Man of Mode

January 16, 2019 by Essay Writer

George Etherege’s The Man of Mode is a play that utilizes humor, wit, and satire to criticize the foolishness and vulnerability of women. In this illustrative and vulgar play, Etherege examines the mannerisms, dialogues, and behaviors of different female characters, such as Mrs. Loveit, Bellinda, and Harriet, in order to develop the argument of female oppression and the inability for women to rise in a society because of legal and social biases. By examining Mrs. Loveit’s unbridled passion and ruthless drive to win the affections of the protagonist, Dorimant, Etherege epitomizes women as slaves to their own desires. By analyzing the means by which Dorimant treats Bellinda, Etherege disparages women as easily manipulated and nonsensical. Lastly, by contrasting Dorimant to Harriet, Etherege manifests to readers that women are only leveled with men if they possess qualities of wit and humor and the ability to manipulate affection. Even so, they will ultimately become objects or commodities as they surrender themselves into marriage. Therefore, by scrutinizing the juxtaposition and the treatment of the female characters in this play, one can not only see the inequality between men and women with regards to reputation, social status, and the natural conditions of women as oppressed commodities, one can also see the futility of women’s attempts to defy social restrictions imposed by male figures during the Restoration period. From the inception of the play, readers are introduced to the protagonist, Dorimant, an infamous libertine who juggles multiple affairs simultaneously. As the play opens, Dorimant is found in his gown and slippers, reciting verses from a note to be given to Mrs. Loveit. He openly confesses to the audience that the “dull, insipid thing is a billet-doux written in cold blood, after the heat of the business is over” (I. i.4-5). The harsh reality is that Dorimant is that is no longer interested in Mrs. Loveit now that he has already conquered her. In addition, Etherege not only presents Mrs. Loveit as a woman who is quickly used and cast aside by Dorimant, but he also mocks her by naming her as Mrs. Loveit. The name, clearly intentional, not only suggests her love for sexual gratification, but also identifies her as a woman enslaved to sex. By molding Mrs. Loveit’s name into her identity as a whore, Etherege compels the readers to disrespect her reputation. In addition, Mrs. Loveit is fooled into a rage of jealousy upon hearing that Dorimant has betrayed her affections by entertaining another woman at a play. Unwilling to accept neglect and rejection, yet acknowledging Dorimant’s disloyalty, she curses Dorimant for being a “faithless, inhuman, barbarous man – without sense of love, of honor, or of gratitude” (II. ii. 161, 163). Mrs. Loveit serves as both a representation of women being used as objects of pleasure and the naïve and the foolish, believing jealousy to be “the strongest cordial we can give to undying love” (III. iii. 213). At the conclusion of the play, it is Mrs. Loveit’s unrestrained and assertiveness passion and love for Dorimant that repels his affection for her. In hopes of winning a man’s affection, Mrs. Loveit willingly relinquishes her reputation. In hopes of rising above the male gender, Mrs. Loveit loses her femininity, surrendering herself to the violence of her passion. Based on the depiction of Mrs. Loveit, Etherege establishes the women as slaves to their lusts and passion, too feeble and weak to control their body and their mind from the wit and charms of men like Dorimant. Through the analysis of Dorimant’s second mistress, Bellinda, the play continues to exude a sense of male superiority. Bellinda is first introduced to readers as a façade; she is the “lady masked, in a pretty dishabille, whom Dorimant entertained with more respect than the gallants do a common vizard” (II. ii. 88-90). Immediately, Bellinda voluntarily gives herself away as an object, allowing herself to be used to deceive her friend. After witnessing the abuse of Mrs. Loveit, Bellinda exclaims that “I wish I had not seen him use her so” (II. ii. 301), but pathetically assumes Mrs. Loveit’s position of Dorimant’s mistress, only to “sigh to think that Dorimant may be one day as faithless and unkind to [her]” (II. ii. 304-305). Ultimately, Etherege emphasizes a woman’s blinded love from excessive and obsessive infatuation by having Bellinda come face to face with reality, admitting that “I knew him false and helped to make him so. Was not her ruin enough to fright me from the danger? It should have been, but love can take no warning” (V. i. 330-333). By succumbing herself to Dorimant physically and emotionally, Bellinda has simply become another one of Dorimant’s conquests. In fact, she is even more imprudent than his previous conquests because she still eagerly surrenders herself to Dorimant despite having witnessed many incidents of infidelity and betrayal. In addition, by examining the distinction between Bellinda and Mrs. Loveit, Etherege distinguishes the different forms of oppression women are bound by. Whereas Mrs. Loveit is bound to her unreasonable and illogical love for Dorimant, Bellinda is bound to her reputation in the society. At the end of the play, Bellinda tells the audience that “[Dorimant] is tender to my honor, though he’s cruel to my love” (V. ii. 303-304), which protects her from the disgrace and dishonor of being labeled as an unchaste woman. From Bellinda’s point of view, her reputation and honor are more important than her heart; as long as Dorimant does not expose her impurities to society, Bellinda will tolerate even the fear of heartache and jealousy. The emphasis on female honor and virtue is significant because it manifests her purity and reputation. Etherege uses this emphasis to point out the double standards that exist between men and women. If a woman is found to be wild and unchaste, no man will want her as a wife and she will forever remain tainted. On the other hand, if a man has a reputation to be an unfaithful lover, as represented by Dorimant, women will still flock to him. Etherege seems to put women on higher pedestals of maintaining virtues, showing that men and women will never achieve equality with regards to their social reputations. From a patriarchal Restoration society, women must adhere to the values of chastity in order to maintain an acceptable social status. In a patriarchal society, men are the only characters capable of pursuing the libertine lifestyle without condemnation. Women, who not only have to uphold their reputation, also have to seek marriage as a means to secure economic statuses. If Bellinda’s unchaste behaviors are revealed, she will lose all prospects for marriage. Therefore, bound by social and legal restrictions, Etherege can only present women as weak and immobile, fully dependent on men for economic and social security. The last female character positioned to stand against Dorimant is the “fine, easy, clean shape” (I. i. 138) Harriet. Though her beauty is natural and pleasing to all eyes, she, unlike the other female characters, also possesses the rare quality of wit as “more than is usual in her sex, and as much malice” (I. i. 149). Harriet is unlike the commonly represented, feminine, virtuous, and obedient women; she does not follow the crowd into being fooled by Dorimant and she is able to detect and even mimic Dorimant’s true nature. In fact, Harriet appears to be a representation of hope for the failure and defeat of the other women in the play. Whereas Mrs. Loveit has to contrive schemes to avenge Dorimant, Harriet observes Dorimant as an outsider and simply mimics him. Whereas Bellinda’s actions are self-deceptive and rooted in fear of society’s disdain, Harriet’s decisions are bold and courageous, free from “hoods and modesty, masks and silence, things that shadow and conceal” (III. i. 25-26). When her mother, Lady Woodvill, insists that she marries Young Bellair, Harriet outwardly refuses by proclaiming, “Shall I be paid down by a covetous parent for a purchase? I need no land. No, I’ll lay myself out all in love” (III. i. 71-73). Harriet is able to control her emotions by disguising them; as she becomes more and more infatuated with Dorimant, she feels “great a change within, but he shall never know it” (III. iii. 65). In addition, she is able to shape and mold Dorimant’s thoughts and actions by acting as his mirror, reflecting the wit and abuse Dorimant uses in his treatment of Bellinda and Mrs. Loveit. When Dorimant tries to confess his love for her, she gives him a taste of his own medicine by saying, “do not speak it if you would have me believe it. Your tongue is so famed for falsehood, ‘twill do the truth an injury” (V. ii. 131-132). By withholding herself from Dorimant’s seduction and mimicking his wit, Harriet insists on a fair treatment of all women. Etherege gives Harriet a chance to rise above Dorimant by equalizing their rhetorical freedom. Unfortunately, though Etherege contrasts this free-spirited, independent woman from all the other female characters in the play, she too eventually becomes another one of Dorimant’s possessions. At the end of the play, though Dorimant renounces “all the joys I have in friendship and in wine” and “sacrifice to [Harriet] all the interest I have in other women” (V. ii. 152-154), he will still have Harriet in his hands. Because Harriet’s greatest fear is that Dorimant will hate her and dispose of her as he has done to the other women, exclaiming that to be “a curse that frights me when I speak it” (V. ii. 183-184), her great love for him prevents her from further scrutiny of the earnestness and sincerity of his motives. Although Etherege leaves the marriage of Dorimant and Harriet vague and unsettled, he subtly confirms Harriet’s final form of surrender as she willingly submits to the values of marriage by confessing that she “would, and never will marry any other man” (V. ii. 348). Consequently, Etherege takes away the slightest bit of hope from even the women who have wit to achieve equality with men by exposing the uncertainty of Dorimant’s love for Harriet. In addition, he reaffirms the anti-feminist argument that women do not have a place in society apart from men. At the end of the play, there is still evidence that Dorimant has not fully repented from his mistakes and that his feelings are not founded on genuine devotion and unselfish ambitions. After the final confrontation with Mrs. Loveit, Dorimant, and Bellinda, Dorimant turns to Bellinda and says, “We must meet again” (V. ii. 321). As a result, Dorimant becomes the model for every man. The infamous libertine exits the stage with his prize in his arms and quite possibly another meeting with his mistress; not once does he express regret, not once does he experience heartache. George Etherege’s The Man of Mode, therefore, portrays women as inferior objects used primarily for self-gratification. In addition, Etherege depicts characters like Mrs. Loveit, Bellinda, and Harriet, to show that equality between men and women cannot exist. In order to prevent women from climbing the social ladder, Etherege shows the confinement of women in their respected realms. The role of women, no matter how intelligent or wealthy, is to serve men. A wife must always be submissive to her husband; a woman always in servitude to a man. The once assertive Mrs. Loveit is now battered to an uncontrollable woman who wears her emotions on her sleeves. The seemingly controlled and conniving Bellinda ends up being an object to Dorimant and is forever enslaved to her self-deception. Lastly, the honorable and witty Harriet, the representative of hope for the female characters, loses to Dorimant by ultimately yielding herself to a society where only marriage can sustain a woman’s social and economic reputation. By presenting The Man of Mode as an antifeminist play, Etherege, in essence, is following the patriarchal Restoration society that does not support the equality of men and women in the social world. Due to societal and legal biases, women can only be delineated as mere objects, easily manipulated, used, and discarded.

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