18 April. Country Wife Acts, 4 & 5

  • 1. Even though she admits to Lucy, her maid that she is in love with Harcourt, why won’t Alithea break off her engagement to Sparkish? How does Lucy respond?
  • 2. Why is Sparkish fooled when Harcourt disguises himself as Ned Harcourt, a chaplain from Cambridge? Is Wycherley making fun of disguise as a staging technique? Is he making fun of the church?
  • 3. How does Mr. Pinchwife attempt to figure out what really happened between Margery (Mrs. Pinchwife and Horner at the Exchange)?
  • 4. Does the play hold Pinchwife up as a villain or a character who possesses an excess of hatred for women? Compare his following discourse on love to the several instances in which Horner explains his motives for sleeping with as many ladies as possible (2.1.108-09 & 1.143-44):

    Love! ‘Twas he gave women first their craft, their art of deluding, Out of nature’s hands they came plain, open, silly and fit for slaves, as she and heaven intended’em, but damned Love—well—I must strangle that little monster whilst I can deal with him. (4.2.46-50)

  • 5.What letter does Pinchwife want Margery to write? What letter does she write and send to Horner (4.2.127-58)? Which letter is more successful and why OR how does Horner react (4.3.332-3)? Is the first letter we’ve seen all semester that was written by a women?
  • 6. Why do you think Wycherly stages this scene as he does—why hide Quack behind the screen? Why does he include the several exits and entrances? Why use china as a figure for sex (ex:4.2.182-86)? Besides cuckolding the men in town and taking his revenge against women, what else motivates Horner’s scheme according to this scene?
  • 7. Are Sparkish and Alithea married? Why/why not? Why does Sparkish believe Horner about Harcourt when he refuses to believe Alithea?
  • 8. How does Lucy trick Mr. Pinchwife into taking Mrs. Pinchwife to meet Horner? Why?
  • 9. What letter does Mr. Pinchwife give Sparkish at the top of 5.3?
  • 10. Why does Lucy orchestrate events to show that even Sparkish, and by extension, all men can become jealous?
  • 11.What does Horner, and by extension the audience, learn about women from the “virtuous gang” (5.3.88) and because he pretends to be “no man” (5.4.144)?
  • 12. Does Pinchwife really believe that Horner is impotent and never slept with his wife? In what double bind does Horner trap Mr. Pinchwife at the end of the play?