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Who are the targets for 'Wycherley's satire' in 'The Country Wife' and how does it reflect Restoration society?

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Who are the targets for 'Wycherley's satire' in 'The Country Wife' and how does it reflect Restoration society? The Country Wife is a Restoration comedy, concerned with exposing certain faults and failings in polite society but as R. C. Sharma said 'The Restoration comedy of manners thus reflects not the real life of the upper class fashionable society but the quintessence of its spirit and temper.' The play is also a satire; a play in which prevailing vices or follies are held up for ridicule, with characters within the play being targets for Wycherley's play. One such target is female hypocrisy. Horner's friend, Quack, who has spread the story around town that Horner is an eunuch, finds it difficult to understand how the story will benefit Horner. The latter explains. A man, in his position, has a problem in knowing which women would be interested in an affair and which would not: 'But now I can be sure she that shows aversion to me love the sport.' As he goes on, his plot will provide a screen for those women who are interested, because they are worried only about protecting their 'reputations, not their persons' from the breath of scandal. ...read more.


Thus everything about Pinchwife is negative. He is the perfect target for satirising because as R.C Sharma says 'by his excessive and mean jealousy of his wife, whom he unmodishly treats as 'a freehold' he loses the sympathy of everybody and his humiliation, therefore, is purely comic.' Sparkish is a type of character, the fop, very popular on the Restoration stage from this time on, because he is not only a half-wit, but also a pretender, one who thinks he is the epitome of fashion at the time. When he meets Horner, Dorilant and Harcourt in Act 1, he tries to impress them with references to social engagements, aristocratic acquaintances and skill at clever talk. He makes references to the King and his court at Whitehall, and to the theatre where he goes as a matter of course when there's a new play on. Wycherley, here, is satirising the so-called fops, who were around the inner circle of wits of Charles II's court and because Wycherley himself was a court wit, he was in the midst of the courts. ...read more.


The greedy man will take the initiative himself and this makes him comic, for he digs his own 'comic' grave. The last character which may be a target of Wycherley's satire is Horner. Horner is a Restoration type, a cynic, a wit and a despiser of marriage. But he also is intellectual in his attitude to life even though he is a pleasure seeker. Therefore it is difficult to be sure about Horner, because Wycherley, himself, was a rake like character, and thus would have been satirising himself. To some extent Horner is the Restoration hero, who thinks of little else besides sex and conquest but he appears to have an accompanying motive. In proving that what should repel women actually attracts them, Horner shows in a way that he could not possibly like women, if all he wants to do is show how hypocritical they can be. Therefore, most of the characters, excluding Alithea and Margery Pinchwife, are in some way satirised in the play by Wycherley. These upper-class characters would have been reflected in the audience of the period, as the audience was much more elite than in Shakespeare's day. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

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This is a well written response that demonstrates a good understanding of the play, its themes and its characters.
The interpretations made could be more closely linked to the idea of satire as this has been set out as the focus in the title.

4 Stars

Marked by teacher Laura Gater 20/08/2013

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