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EXAM 1 Comprehensive Notes

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Terry Robinson

Drama ExamThe Country WifeAuthor plus biographical informationAuthored by William WycherleyHe was an aspiring courtier attendant to the QueenHis life was marred by illness debt litigation and two controversial marriagesHe enjoyed the friendship of the court wits and the admiration of the court ladiesHe also enjoyed the fondness of the King himselfThis is the third of Wycherleys four playsHe has a reputation as a powerful comedic and satiric dramatistNell Gwyn was his mistressThe date it first produced on the London Stagethis play was written in 1675it was first performed by the Kings Company at the Theatre Royal Drury LaneJanuary 12 1675It ran through the mideighteenth century and was moderately successfulIn 1753 it disappeared form the stage and was replaced a few years later by two radical adaptations which claimed to have excised the impropriety of the originalBoth eliminated the vital center of the playHorners character and the plot of lust and deceptionIt wasnt put back on stage until 1924It was performed on an apron stagewhich meant the actors would come forward for maximum audience contactGenreThis is a Social ComedyThis play received extensive praise for its wit and the increasing disapproval it incurred for its licentiousness unprincipled in sexual mattersThe play was controversial immediatelyPlot and Central Charactersbasically there is a Rake who pretends he is impotent in order to safely have clandestine affairs with married womenthe arrival in London of an inexperienced country wife The play serves to humiliate the husbands of the London middle classesIt was fast paced lots of complicationsPlot1Horners impotence trickHe pretends to be a eunuch in order to be allowed where no man may goHe is an upperclass town rake and wants to seduce as many respectable ladies as possible and thus cuckolding their husbandsIf he is impotent than he can safely socialize with wivesThis also helps him identify women who are secretly eager for extramarital sexThis shows that these hypocritical upperclass women are rakes at heartMargery Pinchwife is outraged at the accusations of impotence directed at Horner and she is about the say so in front of everyoneBut the final trickster Horner averts this by joining forces to persuade the jealous Pinchwife to pretend to believe Horner He never becomes reformed but it is assumed that he goes on to reap the fruits of his misinformation2The married life of Margery PinchwifePinchwife marries a nave country girl in hopes she will not know to cuckold himThis is a juxtaposition between town and countryIn innocent but inquisitive young girl and the other had the sophisticated culture of sexual relationsMargery is not pure and virtuous howevershe is enthusiastic about the handsomeness of town gallants rakes and especially theatre actorsHer husband is in a state of continual jealousyHis jealous leads him right into Horners hands3The courtship of Harcourt and AlitheaThis is a conventional lover story by means of persistence and true loveHarcourt Horners friends wins the hand of Pinchwifes sister AlitheaShe is engaged the shallow fop Sparkish at firstAlithea is however a moral woman who wants to hold her engagement to Sparkish even while he is stupidIts only after Alithea has been caught in a misleadingly compromising situation with Horner that she finally admits her love for Harcourt Act 1 The play begins with Horner explaining to Dr Quack his brilliant ruse for making a conquest of Londons upperclass ladies Horner spread a rumor that he was impotent or a eunuch This means that he can gain access to ladies whose husbands and families would otherwise consider him dangerous The woman can have affairs with him yet preserve their honor in the eyes of the world Sir Jasper Fidget enters with his wife Lady Fidget Jasper Fidget thinks because Horner pretends to be uninterested and rude to Lady Fidget that he what he is saying is true Sir Jasper arranges for Horner to act as his wifes new chaperone and companion They leave and Harcourt and Mr Dorilant come in They talk about women wine and friendship Soon Mr Sparkish arrives and bores the three men with his pretensions to wit He is driven away Pinchwife then entersHorner correctly discerns that he recently got married Pinchwife fears that Horner will cuckold him The men discuss Pinchwifes reasons for marrying and his choice of bridePinchwifes contempt for women becomes plain good wives and private soldiers should be ignorant It comes out that Horner has seen Margery at the theater Pinchwife becomes uncomfortable and leavesAct 2 If you love me you must hate LondonMargery complains to her sisterinlaw Alithea Pinchwife that her new husband has confined
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