Hero longing for heiress. Obstacles in the way. Marriage eventually secured. It sounds simple. But the lasting appeal of this, one of the most performed and discussed of all Restoration plays, lies in Congreve's sophisticated grasp of plot, back-story, characterization and language. Set in high-society London, his comic masterpiece features scenes of uproarious comedy, Machiavellian scheming and devastating wit. Its sparring between sexes is enchanting but shadowed by melancholy and the ethical uncertainty latent in the title. If this is the way of the world, are we supposed to cheer, despair, or shrug our shoulders? In this new edition of William Congreve's The Way of the World, David Roberts peels back the layers of the plot to tell the story of the play's stage and critical history from 1700 to the present day, bringing voices from universities and theatres into debate about this enigmatic landmark in English comedy. Supplemented by a plot summary and annotated bibliography, it is ideal for students of Congreve, comedy and early modern drama.