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Flashcards in The Country Wife Deck (57):

Who wrote The Country Wife?

William Wycherley


When did Wycherley live?

1641 - 1716


What young writer did Wycherley help get his start in the literary world?

Alexander Pope


What genre does The Country Wife fall into?

Restoration Comedy


What are the characteristics of Restoration comedy?

- Plays produced after the 18-year ban on theaters

- Resurgence of bawdiness (after repression under Puritan rule)

- Satirical/cynical view of marriage and sexuality


Who was the intended audience for Restoration drama?

The English court and other social insiders (unlike Elizabethan theater, which was for a more socially diverse audience)


What is the term "Restoration" referring to?

The Restoration of the monarchy in England, Scottish, and Irish monarchies.


What is the period before the Restoration known as? What characterized it?

The Interregnum, during which the country was ruled by various forms of Republican government as a Commonwealth.


What King's ascendancy marked the beginning of the Restoration period?

Charles II


Who was the last King before the Interregnum?

Charles I


What is the typical date range for literary works of the Restoration era?



What Act in 1653 redefined the way society thought about marriage? What did it do?

The Civil Marriage Act of 1653; it shifted the jurisdiction of marriage from church to state, thus decreasing the religious awe in which marriage had formerly been held.


What year was The Country Wife first performed?



Who is a major French source for Wycherley?



Who is the main character? What is his ruse for seducing the women of London high society?

Harry Horner

He tells the doctor (Quack) to spread the rumor that a venereal disease has made him impotent. Because he won't be a threat, he'll have close access to women that other men will not.


Who has recently gotten married to a young woman and doesn't know about Horner's "impotence"?

Jack Pinchwife


Who are the two women related to Jack Pinchwife? What are their names?

Margery Pinchwife ("The Country Wife") and Althea Pinchwife, Jack's sister


Who is Althea Pinchwife engaged to?



Who is Horner's friend that falls in love with Althea?



What man constantly gets a kick out of making fun of Horner's impotence, all while Horner is cuckolding him with his wife (and sister)?

Sir Jasper Fidget


What are the names of Sir Jasper Fidget's wife and sister?

Lady Fidget and Dainty Fidget


Who is a rakish friend of Horner and Harcourt?



What third member completes Lady and Dainty Fidget's virtuous trio? Who tries (and fails) to protect her virtue?

Mistress Squeamish; Old Lady Squeamish, her grandmother


How does Pinchwife treat Margery?

He is extremely jealous and refuses to allow her to go out. Being from the country, she is eager to see the sights and experiences London offers, but is kept confined in her house. Pinchwife's controlling manner will eventually lead her to rebel against him.


What prevents Sparkish from noticing Harcourt making moves on Althea right in front of his eyes?

He is "immune" to jealousy, thinking it just makes his fiance more "valuable."


What is Lady Fidget's first reaction to the rumor that Horner is impotent?

She is disgusted and doesn't want to be around him. It is only after she learns he is fully functioning that she wants to spend time with him, eager for a liaison.


Under what conditions does Pinchwife finally relent to taking Margery for a walk around London?

He dresses her as a young boy


Why is Horner able to make a move on Margery right under Pinchwife's nose?

Because she is dressed as a boy, he can't reprimand Pinchwife without revealing the disguise and his own foolishness.


How does Althea react to Harcourt's advances?

She constantly tries to deter them, even alerting Sparkish as to what is going on - but Sparkish doesn't pay her any mind.


What is the pun in Horner's name?

It refers to the belief that cuckolded men wear horns; Horner cuckolds a lot of men.


What is the name of Althea's name who disapproves of her marriage to Sparkish?



How does Harcourt attempt to thwart Althea and Sparkish's wedding?

By disguising himself as his brother "Ned" and offering to officiate the wedding


After being tricked by Horner and Margery during their night on the town, how does Pinchwife punish Margery?

By locking her up and forcing her to write a letter to Horner renouncing him. While Pinchwife isn't looking, Margery substitutes a letter which contains her true feelings.


What excuse do Lady Fidget and Horner give when they are caught in a compromising position by Jaspar?

That Horner is ticklish


Under what ruse do Lady Fidget and Horner finally consummate their affair?

They tell Sir Fidget that Horner has some china Lady Fidget might want to buy, and lock themselves in another room.


Where did Horner first see Margery?

At the theater


What is Sparkish's opinion of the theater?

He thinks it makes "wise" men look like fools, and complains that while plays used to depict and make fun of common people, now they make fun of gentlemen. In other words, he doesn't like it because he is exactly the kind of person who is mocked.


What allusion to another art form does Sparkish make to express his displeasure with the theater?

He points out that painter's don't depict their subjects imperfections (smallpox or pimples) - so why should flaws be explored on the stage?


What interesting observations might we make about books in this play?

In Sparkish's derision of the theater, he includes "books and booksellers" as part of the problem; when Margery is disguised in London, she desperately wants to purchase printed versions of ballads and plays. Pinchwife doesn't allow her; they are too dangerous.

The theater is coming off of the stage and onto bookshelves much faster than it used to do - the two are equated in a way they weren't before.

It is also worth considering that the first printed version of The Country Wife is from the same year of its first record of performance (1675).


Who is disappointed that Horner has no "China" left over for her?

Mistress Squeamish


How does Margery get out of trouble with her husband for writing Horner a love letter?

She signs the letter with Althea's name, pretending that Althea is the one in love with Horner.


How does Margery finally get out of the house and sneak out to see Horner?

She deepens her deception about Althea being the one in love with Horner, and disguises herself "as Althea", wearing a veil over her face because she is ashamed to meet Pinchwife.


What effect does Margery's ruse have on Althea and Sparkish's relationship?

Sparkish hears the rumor and believes it to be true. He insults Althea vehemently and she sees his true nature - and is happy to break it off with him.


What do Lady Fidget, Dainty, and Mistress Squeamish decide to do once they learn they Horner is a lover to all of them?

They will be "sister sharers" and not argue over Horner.


What do Lady Fidget, Dainty, and Mistress Squeamish tell Horner about the reputation of women?

That women use their good reputations to get away with bad behavior - just like men do.


Why is Horner so valuable to the "virtuous" ladies?

Because, since he is known as a eunuch, he allows them to have the sexual excitement they want while protecting their reputations.


What does Horner respond when the party comes to his home asking if Althea has been there?

Trying to protect Margery, he attests that she was, to Althea's shock and dismay.


Who is Althea's staunch defender?



What two characters are primarily responsible for diffusing the tension in the final scene?

Lucy, who admits she helped Margery come in disguise to Horner's as part of a plan to break up Althea and Sparkish, and Quack, who again attests to Horner's impotence.


What are Pinchwife's main flaws?

Besides extreme jealousy, he is also physically and verbally abusive.


How does the fates of the women in The Country Wife differ from those in many typical Restoration comedies?

The women don't get exposed or shames - their secrets are kept.


What is the difference between Margery's desire for Horner and the other women's?

She wants an emotional, not just sexual relationship. She wants Horner to be her husband, not just her lover.


By which character (or actor who plays that character) is the prologue spoken?



By which character is the Epilogue spoken?

Lady Fidget


Where does Horner attest his surgery was done?

France; he claims to have been infected by an English prostitute.


Characterize the Prologue.

The speaker suggests that the audience may not like the play, but the players and the poet will nonetheless do their best to please them.


Characterize the Epilogue.

The speaker warns the audience that there is no fooling women or impressing them with tales of rakishness.