Dorimant consummate his affair with Bellinda. Finally, however, Dorimant succumbs to Harriet's charms and agrees to go off to the country (no less!) to court her.
Margery, and perhaps this is why she is the title character, stands at the center: her country naïveté links her to the sincerity of Harcourt and Alithea, but she lacks the social acumen they have to make her sincere aims survive. The action of the play brings Harcourt and Alithea out of the social whirl into a private world. The happy ending, as so often in comedy, affirms the idea of poetic justice: right2 equals right1; the good succeed, and the bad fail — unless they are Horner. For it is he and the complexity associated with him that keep from having simply a “happy ending.”
Even so, lest Sir Frederick be taken too seriously, there is always his own ludicrous counterpart, Dufoy, who puts a comic perspective on even the golden mean. Not all the antiheroic contrasts are channeled through Sir Frederick, moreover. Palmer ironically pretends to be a virtuous Loyalist like Colonel Bruce (32), and Wheadle compares the dueling-field to a sheep-field (29). Palmer can speak the heroic cant of the high plot as he complains of his lack of business:
In the coming decades, some twenty millions were starved and slaughtered to achieve full “socialism in one country.” Mao’s Chinese Communists would kill several times more. Add many millions in the smaller countries of Communist triumph and occupation, through a century which exceeded all others combined in the production of e.g. Christian martyrs. Then add the millions more from alternative Atheist creeds, such as National Socialism.
Chiefly, they want to be taken care of. They want to make the mess that others clean up. They want a paradise in which they will not be held accountable for their actions, one that will ultimately compass the execution of those to whom they have taken a dislike. By comparison to them, one might account the earlier, minority, socialist generations heroic in a way: they were willing to do their own killings. The kids today come late to this game.
The Restoration version, on the other hand, creates the picture of universal corruption. Oriana is a special oasis of goodness — everything else, society, foreign countries, even the hero's confidant Duretete, represents a liberty of doubtful merit. For instance, when in Fletcher's play the gallants discuss the women they have seduced, they are limited to Italy, but Farquhar's gallants have had French, Dutch, and English women as well as Italian. Outside the nucleus of romantic love wait deceptions like those of Lamorce, and from those deceptions and corruptions Mirabel retreats into the haven of matrimony, described in the imagery as a prison. Thus Mirabel says in his curtain speech:
Gone, too, is Shakespeare's feeling for a normality. The problem in is to return Kate to her normal social relations; being a repentant sinner, a convert, she is of course stronger in her role of wife at the end than those who never deviated. At the end of the epilogue informs us “next you see the very suggesting that the supposed normality to which Petruchio has restored Kate does not exist. Whereas in a passing merchant, told he is in danger because of war, is induced to disguise himself and play a suitor's father in order to fabricate a marriage settlement, in a “Knight of the Post,” i.e., a professional false witness, is paid to do the job. For Shakespeare, normality means peace and prosperity; for Lacy, the world normally surrounding the married couples is a sustained corruption. The Knight of the Post recalls the good old days with Kate's father, whom he pretends to know. Ironically, he says: “Ay, marry, these were golden days indeed — no cozening, no cheating. The world is altered” (368).
the Restoration habit of testing things, pushing them to their utmost limit. So, too, Lacy thereby hints that one's nature is hard to change — it requires the ultimate threat: one must be tragicomically “killed” and “reborn” to do it. It is easy enough, however, for Kate to change her appearance, to pretend to be a submissive wife. Gone is Shakespeare's sense that woman's nature and appearance are one; as Kate in her last speech says:
In answer to the playwrights' view that they were exposing vice and folly by holding a mirror up to them, Collier said: “Take them at the best, and they do no more than expose a little Humour, and Formality. But then, as the Matter is manag'd, the Correction is much worse than the Fault. … It cherishes those Passions, and rewards those Vices, which 'tis the business of Reason to discountenance.” This was the crux of his idea, that these plays encouraged vice because vicious characters are rewarded in them, and this objection has dominated two and a half centuries of criticism of Restoration comedy.
which neither nor had ever thought: and therefore to put the last hand to it, he design'd the Counterpart to Plot, namely, that of a Man who had never seen a Woman; that by this means those two Characters of Innocence and Love might the more illustrate and commend each other.
I denounce against all strait Lacing, squeezing for a Shape, 'till you mould my Boy's Head like a Sugar-loaf; and instead of a Man-child, make me Father to a Crooked-billet. Lastly, to the Dominion of the I submit. ― But with that you exceed not in your Province; but restrain yourself to native and simple Drinks, as and As likewise to Genuine and Authoriz'd ― Such as mending of Fashions, spoiling Reputations, railing at absent Friends, and so forth ― But that on no Account you encroach upon the Mens Prerogative, and presume to drink Healths, or toast Fellows; for prevention of which I banish all all Auxiliaries to the as all and together with , and the most noble Spirit of ― But for and all those I allow. ― These admitted, in other things I may prove a tractable and complying Husband.
I thank you. then, I covenant that your Acquaintance be general; that you admit no sworn Confident, or Intimate of your own Sex; no she Friend to skreen her Affairs under your Countenance, and tempt you to make trial of a mutual Secresie. No Decoy-Duck to wheadle you a to the Play in a Mask ― Then bring you home in a pretended Fright, when you think you shall be found out — And rail at me for missing the Play, and disappointing the Frolick which you had to pick me up and prove my Constancy.