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?

11 April. Witch, Act 5 & Country Wife, Act 1


Papers are due next Thursday, April 20 by 5:00.

You will all give your presentations on that date as well. I brought the presentation requirements inline with the final paper.

The Witch of Edmonton, Act 5

  • 1. Why doesn’t the Devil-Dog come when Elizabeth Sawyer calls him at the start of 5.1? How has changed when he finally does appear?
  • 2. Why does the Devil-Dog treat Cuddy Banks differently than he treats Sawyer?
  • 3. According to the Dog, why can devils “bestow [themselves] in such small bodies” (5.1.121)?
  • 4. Why does Cuddy pity the Dog and what sort of alternative lives does he imagine the Dog could lead instead?
  • 5. What crimes is Sawyer charged with and is she responsible for them?
  • 6. Why do Winfred, Old Thorny, and Old Cater forgive Frank at the end? Do you believe that Frank repents his choices as he claims when he says to Winfred and his father:

    Thou much wronged woman, I must sigh for thee
    As he that’s only loath to leave the world
    For that he leaves thee in it unprovided,
    Unfriended; and for me to beg a pity
    From any man to thee when I am gone
    I is more than I can hope; nor, to say truth,
    Have I deserved it. But there is a payment
    Belongs to goodness from the great exchequer
    Above; it will not fail thee, Winifred
    Be that thy comfort.

  • 7. What purpose does the Devil serve in culture OR does The Witch of Edmonton have a moral purpose?

English Civil War (1642-51), Interregnum (1653-1660), & the Restoration of the Monarchy (1660-1678)

James I and IV dies in 1625

Charles I succeeds his dad the same year

Then, in 1649 Charles I is executed in the Banqueting house his father commissioned Inigo Jones to build, and where both James I and Charles watched plays.

Oliver Cromwell, the Protectorate of the realm and head of the New Model Army rules the “commonwealth” of England, Ireland, and Scotland as a Republic from 1653-59

Then, in 1660, King Charles II, Charles I son, returns from exile in France and restores the monarchy to England ushering in a 20 year period of cultural production, of which William Wycherly’s The Country Wife is a famous example.

So what.. what effect did the Civil War, execution of Charles I, Protectorate, and Restoration of the monarch have on the theater?

  • 1. Theaters are closed from 1642 till 1660 because Puritan government thought the plays were licentious and immoral. Also, plague.
  • 2. Plays were not played publicly, but were played in private houses and roadside inns, and maybe at the colleges. Also, as The Witch of Edmonton demonstrates, the plays were published during the Republic.  
  • 3. While dour, the Republic period was kind-of good for (some) women, so when the theaters were reopened in 1660, women played women on stage for the first time. Also, Aphra Behn wrote and staged plays during the Restoration.
  • Two playhouses Drurey Lane and Dorset Gardens

The Libertine

The Country Wife, Act 1

  • 1. Why does Horner want to be “undone with women” (1.16) and how does he accomplish this goal? What story do Horner and Quack make up to support the claim that Horner is impotent?
  • 2. How do the character’s names describe their personalities?
  • 3. Why does Sir Jasper and Lady Fidget visit Horner? Why does Sir Jasper say “sir” so much?
  • 4. How do Horner’s friends, Harcourt and Dorilant, try to cheer him up? Are they successful?
  • 5. Why does Pinchwife marry a woman from the country?