English428WayoftheWorld - Edmund St. Gumdrop English 428...

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Edmund St. Gumdrop English 428 Final Mirabell is quite different from the typical rake hero, so much so that I find it difficult to place him neatly into that category. He does possess certain characteristics in common with Etherege’s Dorimant, but his differences are too many and too profound to call him a typical rake. One of the most important qualities of rake-hero is his all-pervasive sexual attraction, and in this Mirabell is no different than Dorimant. Both characters are easily the most desirable males in their respective plays, and both are able even to sway the hearts of the old dowagers that threaten to prevent their loves, showing great sexual power. However on this point the two show great differences. Dorimant first wheedles his way into Lady Woodvil’s heart by assuming an alter-ego, Mr. Courtage, and in so doing evades the harmful effects of his richly deserved reputation. His triumph, then, is based upon deception. Mirabell on the other hand wins the approval of Lady Wishfort by legitimately “saving the day” as it were, and despite his machinations achieves his love through genuine merit. Rather than flatter Lady Wishfort as Dorimant does Woodvil, Mirabell stubbornly refuses to pay the old woman lip service even to his great detriment. He does try a bit, but later repents it, saying “the devil is in it” if a young man flatter an old woman. While he may merely be objecting to flirting with so old and ugly a creature, it does show that there are lines he will not cross to get what he wants. Mirabell’s discretion is indeed one of his most prominent qualities, and in this he is further separated from Dorimant and other rakes. Dorimant falls in love with Harriet
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almost as soon as he sees her, (and even had designs on her beforehand on the mere rumor that she was handsome) as is typical with characters of his type. Mirabell is not so subject to his passions, and instead describes a very gradual, very meticulous process by which he falls in love with Millamant which involves making a lengthy “catalogue” of
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course ENGL 428 taught by Professor Markey during the Spring '07 term at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

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English428WayoftheWorld - Edmund St. Gumdrop English 428...

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