Whether for love or ambition, for parental approval or reasons of state, marriage has complicated the lives of all who enter into it. First performed in 1671, Dryden's Marriage a la Mode portrays the motives high and low that make marriage the pivotal institution of a nation. Like Dryden's best tragicomedies, Marriage a la Mode has a double plot. The hopes that marriage excites and the regrets it suffers, the possibilities it opens and the opportunities it denies, its potential nobility and its vulnerability to decay provided Dryden with plentiful dramatic material. Comedy and pathos intersect in plots that entangle and surprise like marriage itself.