13 April. Country Wife, Acts 2 & 3

The Country Wife, Acts 2 & 3

  • 1. Of all the plays we’ve read so far this semester, which does The Country Wife mostly closely resemble? Why do you think some themes, performance techniques, modes of address survived and other did not?
  • 2. What does Mrs. Pinchwife like most about the play she saw? Why won’t Mr. Pinchwife take her to see another?
  • 3. What’s you assessment of Althea? How does she compare with other lady characters we seen so far this semester? How does she differ?
  • 4.In a footnote, our editor, James Ogdon, says, “Ralliery against marriage was so common among the wits as to have become unfashionable [by the 1670’s].” What critiques do the wits Harcourt, Sparkish, and Horner level against marriage? How do their critiques compare with the actual marriages¬†acted out in this play? Does the play propose any alternatives to traditional marriage?
  • 5. Why do you think the scenes with Mr. and Mrs. Pinchwife bookend the scene where Harcourt and Althea meet for the first time?
  • 7. What social factors underwrite the following exchange:

    Lady Fidget: She says true! ‘Tis an arrant shame women of quality should be so slighted, Methinks, birth–birth should go for something. I have known men admired, courted, and followed for their titles only.

    Squemish: Ay, one would think men of honour should not love, no more than marry, out of their own rank.

    Dainty: Fie, Fie upon ’em! They are come to think cross-breeding for themselves best, as well as for their dogs and horses.

    Lady Fidget: They are dogs and horses for it!

  • 6. How does Lady Fidget react when she finds out about Horner’s ruse (2.1.503-509)¬†
  • 7.What disguise does Pinchwife ultimately decide to dress Mrs. Pinchwife in before the go out on the town (The New Exchange) so that “she may not be seen or known” (3.1.84)? How do the other gallants react when they see Mrs. Pinchwife in “breeches”?
  • 9. Why does Sparkish go see plays and then heckle the play so loudly from the pit that contends against the playwright for the audience’s attention?
  • 10. How does Harcourt use Sparkish to woo Althea? Does Sparkish realize he is being duped?
  • 11. Compare the image of swarms used twice in act 3 (3.2.27-13) and (3.2.166-70). Whom does the image describe and how does it get at the weird ways that gender works in this play?
  • 12.How/why does Horner “torment” Pinchwife at the end of act 3?

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