This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Moral Virtue In William Wycherley’s The Country Wife

995 words - 4 pages

The Country Wife – written by William Wycherley in 1675 – is a Restoration comedy based upon the life of the aristocracy. Restoration comedy is a style of drama that was made popular in the late seventeenth century. It refers to the period in England when King Charles II was returned as the head of the English empire. Life under King Charles II was seen as hedonistic: people were motivated by pleasure. These moral virtues represented the degradation of society, rampant with sexual explicitness and obscenity (“Charles II”). The definition of moral virtue can be quite ambiguous. For the purpose of this essay I will define moral virtue as such: A set of accepted traits or qualities which are accepted as "right” or “good” in society. The Characters of The Country Wife set out to wrong one another. William Wycherley comments on the degradation of moral virtue in society through the negative values held by his characters. The characters exemplify immoral and disgraceful traits including jealousy, deception, and sexuality.
The concept of jealously in The Country Wife is personified through Harcourt, the dashing and depraved friend of Horner who falls in love with Alethea. Harcourt is jealous of Sparkish who is set to marry his mistress Alethea. Harcourt expresses to Alethea that he feels in marrying Sparkish she would be dishonouring herself: “if you do marry him-with your pardon, madam- / your reputation suffers in the world” (II.i.235-236). Wycherley uses Harcourt to exemplify the effect jealously can have on a person. Harcourt declares himself a rival to his former friend Sparkish and insults him in the hopes that Alethea with change her mind. “He’s beneath an injury-a / bubble, a coward, a senseless idiot, a wretch so contemptible to all / the world...” (II.i.248-250). He even goes as far as to express that if she does decide to marry Sparkish, he has every intention of breaking up the marriage: “I wish it / were in my power to break the match; by the heavens I would” (II.i.178-179). Wycherley shows how jealousy can make people lose their moral standards and commit acts with little regard for others. Harcourt’s jealousy causes him to go to extremes. He disguises himself as a parson with the intent to deceive Sparkish into believing he has been married to Alethea. Wycherley reveals Harcourt’s real plan to marry himself to Alethea to the audience through the use of irony: “nobody else / shall marry you, by heavens; I’ll die first, for I’m I should die / after it” (IV.i.148-150). Harcourt is propelled by jealousy, resorting to deceit and manipulation while holding little regard for others. Through Harcourt we witness jealousy’s corruption of society, making people superficial and selfish.
Society’s moral standards and values digress through deception and pretence. This deterioration is personified through Mr. and Mrs. Pinchwife. In The Country Wife, Mr. and Mrs. Pinchwife exemplify the effect of deceit through trickery and...

Find Another Essay On Moral Virtue in William Wycherley’s The Country Wife

The Country Wife - Summary And Analysis Of The Plot

1189 words - 5 pages Summary and Analysis of the plot William Whycherly's The County Wife is a hilarious comedy about men and women in love and marriage. In the midst of a continual banter of sexual innuendo there lies, cynical commentary and misogonistic attitude's upon women, love and what is socially accepted."˜Mistresses are like books. If you pore upon them too much, they doze you and make you unfit for company, but only for a night and away, to taste the

The Power of Virtue in Ancient Rome

1501 words - 7 pages virtue after taking power. Octavian did not cheat on his wife after getting married to her (self-control), he gave tax incentives to couples who stayed faithful to each other (prudence and justice), and in the Battle of Actium, he did not flee, instead he stayed and fought against Marc Antony and won (courage). As previously mentioned, having a good reputation meant everything to the men of ancient Rome. However, achieving the goal of a good

The country analysis of Iraq.written by william, I have wrote in this paper the country make up of Iraq, from natural resorces to the government

1036 words - 4 pages William TuckerCountry AnalysisNovember 14, 2003IRAQFormerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq became an independent kingdom in 1932. A "republic" was proclaimed in 1958, but in actuality a series of military strongmen have ruled the country since then, the latest being Saddam Hussein. Later on territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive, unending, and costly eight-year war from, (1980-1988). In August 1990, Iraq seized Kuwait, but was

Cultivating the Virtue of Modesty in the Face of Fame

905 words - 4 pages In “Kanye, that Dame has class,” an editorial featured in the Globe and Mail, Rex Murphy, through addressing the famed rapper Kanye West, attempts to convey to the readers that the corrupt celebrity image prevalent in the media shall not be regarded as normalcy, and then seeks to rectify the readers’ potentially skewed thinking by providing concrete arguments. Murphy lashes out at Kanye West’s flamboyant self-entitlement and praises the

Comparing Virtue and Vice in Utopia, The Bible, and Othello

881 words - 4 pages Comparing Virtue and Vice in Utopia, The Bible, and Othello The definition of virtue varies between cultures and societies. Utopian ideas of virtue do not necessarily agree with Biblical or Elizabethan England views, however, More’s "Utopia," the Biblical accounts in Genesis of Joseph and Jacob, and Shakespeare’s "Othello" all present the concept of virtue prevailing over vice. Although at times vice may appear to triumph over virtue

The Pursuit of Virtue in Pride and Prejudice

1106 words - 4 pages definition of vanity, Elizabeth is not at the greatest point of virtue, but is actually near to it. It is really important to keep in mind, that if we want to move away from the extremes and achieve the maximum point of virtue, self – knowledge has a central role, as it is a prerequisite for moral improvement that will conduce us to the foundation of good principles. In the novel, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are only free of their pride

The Tension between Beauty and Virtue in Shakespeare's Sonnet 95

1229 words - 5 pages The Tension between Beauty and Virtue in Shakespeare's Sonnet 95      "Sonnet 95" of Shakespeare's "blond young man" sonnets depicts a tension-filled variation on the classic blazon. The poet seems torn between the "shame" (1) that taints his subject and the "sweets" (4) of the subject 's beauty. The initial imagery of a "canker" (2) within a "rose" (2) serves to set up the sexual overtones that dominate the poem, as well as to

Moral Integrity In The Crucible

836 words - 3 pages of the first people to openly condemn the injustice. As a figure of authority, his opinion has a large impact on the public. In addition to Hale's influence, John Proctor lets his moral integrity lead him in his reactions to the trials.Proctor is right in the heart of the tragedy. Because he is haunted by previous actions, a severe turn in the trials is needed to get him involved. After his wife is arrested for witchcraft, Proctor understands

Lady Macbeth as a Wife and as a Woman in William Shakespeare's Macbeth

4125 words - 17 pages Lady Macbeth as a Wife and as a Woman in William Shakespeare's Macbeth In the play 'Macbeth', there is one main relationship. This is between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. At the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth is the stronger partner. She believes that with her help, Macbeth can become King of Scotland. She uses all her powers of persuasion to get Macbeth to murder the King. She plans all his actions and tells him how

Explore the role of Curley's wife in the novel

678 words - 3 pages In Of Mice and Men Steinbeck shows that Curley’s wife plays a big role in the novel. Her role is being a catalyst. This is shown as Curley's wife changes the scene immediately when Curley's wife shows up. By changing the seen I mean change other people’s expressions and looks on their faces. And Curley's wife changes the scene because, Curley's wife either seeks attention or makes others weaker that her. But her actions do have some consequences

The Wife of Bath in The Canterbury Tales

541 words - 2 pages During the late Middle Ages, the majority of society deemed women as inferior to men. In Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, the Wife of Bath represents a nontraditional role for women of that time. A woman's role customarily did not include a voice in society, religion, or government. The Wife of Bath's history includes five marriages, numerous lovers, and three trips to Jerusalem. The Wife of Bath's character steps outside tradition in

Similar Essays

Reconsidering Harcourt In Wycherley’s The Country Wife

5992 words - 24 pages likely compares Sparkish to. While both wits are on stage, there is a choice of wits, and then the actual lines of the scene must be taken into account. [12] All citations are from Thomas H. Fujimura’s edition of William Wycherley’s The Country Wife. Periods reflect times when Harcourt, Horner, and Sparkish are on stage together, not necessarily speaking, in various combinations. [13] Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Between Men: English Literature and

The Role Of The Clever Servant In William Wycherly's 'the Country Wife"

1033 words - 4 pages Throughout Wycherley's "The Country Wife" the possibilities of love and marriage for the wrong reasons are observed. Each character in the play has his or her own views of the opposite sex and how Love or, for some, merely money or physical attractions should be approached. The reasons for marriage as seen by most of the characters in The Country Wife are contradicted by Lucy, a simple servant with many opinions on the subject of love and

The Representation Of Marriage In The Country Wife

801 words - 3 pages The Representation of Marriage in The Country Wife      William Wycherly represents marriage in a peculiar way in The Country Wife. The classic marital values of love, trust, and becoming one with your partner in a bond of love are distorted by intense emotion. The appropriately named Mr. Pinchwife is a jealous husband who moves his new wife Margery to the country with hopes keep her from the outside world, namely

Characterization Of Women As Empowering Figures In The Country Wife And Pygmalion

2125 words - 9 pages In The Country Wife, women are treated as mere objects and are viewed by the men of the play as being inferior. Sparkish views Alethea as an object that should be flaunted around and is only interested in marrying her for her wealth. Sparkish revels in the idea that he be envied for his wife because he believes that allowing more men to love her and envy him for owning her will increase her worth. In viewing her as something that gains value