The Double Dealer Plot Analysis


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William Congreve’s The Double Dealer (1694) came after his other play The Old Bachelor (1693). Its whole action takes place in Lord Touchwood’s house. Here, in this literary work, the villain (Maskell), not the hero (Mellefont), is more dominant as well as significant than any other characters.

Both of them (the hero and villain) desire to marry Cynthia. Consequently, a series of conspiracies/Intrigues (and struggle) starts in the play.   

The Double Dealer Plot Structure

In fact, the plot is known as the chain of events (Aristotle). The playwrights carry onwards action(s) of their plays through them (events). William Congreve, the writer of The Double Dealer expresses his opinion about the plot of the play in a letter to Charles Montague.

The dramatist tells him that he made the plot as strong as he could because it was single, and he made it single because he would avoid confusion, and was determined (resolved) to preserve the (3) unities (of the play).

The Double Dealer by William Congreve is a five-act play. Each act comprises several scenes. The dramatist introduces (almost) all prominent characters in the opening act (1). Not only that but the seeds of upcoming activities are also sown in the aforementioned act. 

As far as the act two, three, as well as four of The Double Dealer are concerned; they develop or expand  or continue:

  • Love Intrigues
  • Vice-Virtue, good-bad Conflict
  • Particularly women’s licentious behavior
  • Maskwell’s design

and many other things also. 

Whereas the last act (act five) of William Congreve’s The Double Dealer is not only the result but also a judgment on (all of) the above-mentioned actions of the play.

Here, one clearly observes that ‘virtue is rewarded’ as well as ‘vice is punished. All Intrigues/conspiracies or evil plots of villainous characters (such as Maskell as well as Lady Touchwood) are finally exposed. And, most important, Mellefont, as well as Cynthia (the true lovers), are also united.  

The characters’ foolishness, the dialogues, (and) the revelation of the plot(s) create a comic effect in The Double Dealer. As it has mentioned earlier also that all five acts of this play take place in Lord Touchwood’s house in London city.

Congreve skillfully/smartly reveals ‘Immorality’ as well as other themes in the plot of this play. Moreover, he strictly followed all three unities (Place, Time, as well as Action). 

Ques: How does The Double Dealer open ?

And: William Congreve’s The Double Dealer opens with a dialogue between Mellefont as well as Careless.

Ques: Who calls Lady Touchwood a ‘revengeful woman’ in the play The Double Dealer ?

Ans: It is Mellefont who calls Lady Touchwood a ‘revengeful woman’ in The Double Dealer.

Ques: How many scenes are there in Act One of this play?

Ans: There are 3 scenes in the First Act of The Double Dealer.

Ques: Mellefont sees Lady Touchwood kissing Maskwell. It was whose Intrigue ?

Ans: The hero of the playThe Double Dealer, Mellefont sees Lady Touchwood kissing Maskwell; it was the villain’s (Maskwell’s) Intrigue.  

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