1. Act 4.1 begins at a gathering at Lady Townley’s where, in a deception shared by all the characters who know him, Dorimant has been introduced to Old Bellair and Lady Woodvill as “Mr Courtage” – a respectable young gentleman. This deception will permit Dorimant public access to Harriet who – in participating in the deception over her mother here – makes clear her interest in getting to know him better. This scene contains the second encounter (essentially Round 2 in the agonistic model) between Harriet and Dorimant and it is here that the thunderbolt strikes Dorimant. Unlike Harriet’s sudden discovery of Dorimant’s effect on her from their first words in Act 3.3, Dorimant’s romantic transcendence seems to evolve. Review the exchange between the two in Act 4.1.95 – 157 (pages 36-37 in the PDF). Do you see particular statements by Harriet in this exchange (particularly as we get closer to his personal revelation beginning at line 132) that may shed light on why his sudden revelation occurs when it does?
2. After Dorimant’s revelation that he loves Harriet, we may find it interesting to examine what this really means in practical terms for him as the play proceeds. Is this how he behaves with most women he aims to seduce – or is there anything special with her? As the party at Lady Townley’s winds down in the early morning, Dorimant suddenly remembers while he is chatting as “Mr Courtage” to Harriet and her mother that he is supposed to meet Bellinda for their tryst at his place at 5:00 a.m. Turning now to Act 4.2, we find the scene begins with Dorimant entering the stage in his dressing gown – a clear sign he has slept with Bellinda. The dynamic in the scene between Bellinda and Dorimant is full of subtle statements (mostly on her part) as she tries to maneuver their relationship from sexual to romantic – from her being a conquest to her being loved. Review the exchange at 4.2.1 -75 (pages 42-43 in the PDF) between Dorimant and Bellinda (followed by the arrival of “the boys” who grill him about his conquest). What lines in the exchange – especially by Bellinda – shed the best light on what is going on in the two of them at this point?
3. Act 5.1 provides us with the great second exchange between Mrs Loveit and Dorimant – that is, Round 2 in their agon. This scene has an entirely different quality to their first encounter in which Dorimant successfully drove Mrs Loveit to distraction and, with a final grand flourish, charged her with seducing Sir Fopling. Since then, however, she has succeeded in making him jealous with her public display of flirting with Sir Fopling – so the psychological balance of power when the scene begins is much more even. Review the exchange between them in Act 5.1.78 – 280 (pages 47-51 in the PDF). Is there a victor to this agon or do you call it a draw – and why? And where, specifically, would you locate the places where you see the most evidence of the best “shots” – and why?
4. The Man of Mode culminates is a grand ensemble scene in which all the major characters appear on stage. Harriet will be married to Young Bellair – to neither’s satisfaction – unless some rapid change of events can be orchestrated. This occurs with Dorimant’s spontaneous offer to marry Harriet and her insistence to her shocked mother that she won’t marry any other man. That leaves Young Bellair free to marry Emilia and leaves Mrs Loveit and Bellinda on the sidelines. By the end of the play, nothing is more enigmatical that what state of mind Dorimant is in. As you review the play’s final scene, be attentive to the huge schism that exists in the Alpha male between how he speaks to men about women and how he speaks and acts to women. Where is truth to be found? Begin by reviewing the following passages (these are found on pages 45, 53-56 in the PDF): 1) The exchange at Act 4.2.155 – 178 between Dorimant and Young Bellair when the latter tells Dorimant he believes Harriet loves him 2) The final major exchange between Dorimant and Harriet in Act 5.2.88 – 150 when he offers his hand 3) Dorimant’s final exchanges with Mrs Loveit and Bellinda at Act 5.2.245 – 274 in which he explains why he has offered to marry Harriet. After you have reviewed these passages, where do you stand finally on who Dorimant is when the play ends?