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"The Country Wife shows us that people's attitude towards love, sex and marriage have not changed in over 300 years" How far do you agree with this statement?

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Introduction

"The Country Wife shows us that people's attitude towards love, sex and marriage have not changed in over 300 years" How far do you agree with this statement? The "Country Wife" is a 17th century drama set in the period when the restoration was evolving. The once puritan England was vastly flourishing with greater tolerance towards political and social change under the influence of Charles II. Soon theatres of the past reopened with fresh enthusiasm and risqu� ideas were portrayed openly to audiences of the time. The "Country Wife" was just one of the many comedies of its era and Wycherley was commonly displaying the spirit of the age. Interestingly, the modern audience of today can also relate to some of the humour in the "Country Wife", this poses the question, has people's attitudes towards social aspects changed? Throughout the "Country Wife", there are many references to love, marriage and sex although there is more content focusing on the latter. The characters that Wycherley has used reflect the ideas of the time. The plays focus is primarily on Horner; the 'witty rake' who like many of the other men in the play is simply out to satisfy his own sexual desires. This type of behaviour does not surprise a modern audience and if anything, we can relate to it as a 'norm' in our present society. ...read more.

Middle

This shows that it was not uncommon for men to have mistresses and people thought less of a man taking a whore out then him taking his wife out. Again, this shows a certain leniency towards the idea of sex and prostitution, which nowadays is considered taboo and more surreptitious. The references throughout the play are often explicit especially in the notorious 'china scene' where the word "china" becomes an innuendo for sex. The characters hint openly at sex and there are many suggestive comments that provoke humour from a modern audience, " He is coming into you the back way" "She's playing the wag with him." " Alas, poor man, how she tugs him!" and "Kill my squirrel" The latter is a very crude expression that a modern audience would understand because of the sexual implication. Although a modern audience interprets not all of the intended humour, the "Country Wife" still appears to be a amusing. Marriage in the "Country Wife" is portrayed overall to involve no real sense of relationship or mutual respect. Women are seen as objects of pleasure that must be contained and jealousy guarded for fear they might stray and in doing so expose one to ridicule. This is the case for characters such as Pinchwife, Sir Jasper and Sparkish. ...read more.

Conclusion

Love it seemed was literally non-existent and assuming this reflected how life was then it seems that the once puritan lifestyle proceeding to freedom and choice eradicated love in relationships as it appears social status and reputation were more important amongst the majority: "Women of quality are so civil you can hardly distinguish love from good breeding". This shows how people put on a front to satisfy their own personal gratification and love amongst the majority of the population meant very little. As far as agreeing or disagreeing whether people's views have changed towards love, sex and marriage then I would have to disagree. We have to bear in mind that in the times when the "Country Wife" was acted in plays the society was coming to terms with the new found freedom of theatres opening and life changing in general. After being repressed people went from one extreme to an other and a social 'rebellion' occurred consequently because of this. In today's society, the social status of women is higher than it has ever been and men generally have more respect. In both societies there are always going to be exceptions to the social norm. Although in modern times, we still find the humour in the "Country Wife" appealing it is not because we can generally relate to it but more because we understand its comedy value. ...read more.

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