It is all a play of pretence. Pretence to be better than the other. Lady Wishfort is not ready to accept her wearing age and that the time when she had the ability to woo many young, well- off gentlemen has left the scene long ago and takes refuge from her reality when she paints her face in make up.
On the other hand, Mirabell defeats the Lady of pretence. He proceeds to the very last act of flattery with her, while he was in love with her niece, Ms. Millamant. He makes his friend put her into a lampoon to spread the rumour of her having an affair with a young fellow and falsely informing her that the whole town was aware of her pregnancy (affected, of course). Contrastingly, when Fainall informs him that Petulant is pretending continence to brag in front of Millamant, when next time he proposes her for marriage, that he has abandoned all the ladies only to marry her, he fumes in anger. On this stage, Petulant, in turn informs Mirabell that he is aware that Mirabell is not good friends with his uncle and will be disinherited from his property lest the latter marries Lady Wishfort.
Mrs. Marwood, in another scene, reveals to Mrs. Fainall, daughter of Lady Wishfort that women pretend to be affectionate to each other and seem to be so fond of each other just as lovers are. They think all other thoughts except that of men to be dry.
We can all see a Petulant, Millamant or Lady Wishwort in us at various situations life throws at us. Whether life imitates theatre or theatre imitates life has been a question constantly pondered over. Certainly, all the world’s a stage, rather, to be more precise, all the life’s a stage and we all are merely players, with each having our exits and entrances, as William Shakespeare puts it.