The Country Wife Analysis

Decent Essays
Deception and cuckoldry enable instability in the traditional home in Wycherley’s The Country Wife. He examines desire and how it affects every aspect of social life. It can cause adverse reactions such as paranoia, fear, jealousy, creativity, anger, deception, and idolatry. It is clear that through the idea of possession and desire, Wycherley exposes harmful gender roles, oppressive institutionalized practices, and the conflicting quality of competition. He depicts a gender war throughout his play, and within the drinking scene he exposes on a deeper level the intermingling of power and desire as well as the way in which the economization of desire erases its complexity. Burke asserts that male homosocial desire, or the relationships between …show more content…
For instance, Burke proves that homosocial desire is a driving force throughout the play while also showing how Wycherley undermines this pervasive phenomenon and inverts it. The drinking scene depicts an amalgam of duplicity, desire, and power. Horner’s exposure to a female space in this scene presents him with a unique perspective that undermines homosocial desire and reinforces the differing gender perspectives of Pinchwife and Margery that Horner uses to his advantage. Burke describes a scene in which Alithea tells her maid that she loves Harcourt as “a scene designed to expose the duplicity that lies beneath conformity to social convention” (Burke 232). However, it is apparent that this description accurately applies to the drinking scene as well. It is a female-dominated scene that begins with women drinking and Lady Fidget singing a song which criticizes men. So, Horner becomes the outsider looking into the female space. This inversion subverts male homosocial desire and forces Horner to view life from the private sphere, thus revealing a deeper identity that contradicts the public …show more content…
From the beginning of the scene it is obvious that Lady Fidget is part of a gender war which revolves around submission and domination. When she refers to pleasure which these “tyrants” give, she uses the word “pittance.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, pittance refers to a charitable gift or a very meagre portion of something. So, Lady Fidget seems to resent this act of withholding and sees it as something tyrannical. It seems she would rather possess something by her own means, otherwise it will be insufficient and lacking in freedom. This reaction to male dominance becomes further complicated when analyzing Fidget’s use of the word “our” in the phrase “our damned tyrants.” This suggests that even while being under personal sexual control, women still claim a form of possession. With Pinchwife and Margery being a prevailing example of a typical marriage, it is evident that Fidget speaks from the same perspective as Margery. She and her peers discuss the possession of husbands in social contexts, but in a very masked sense. In other words, wives cannot control their husbands just like husbands cannot control their wives, despite possessive language; it is a false possession. Thus, cuckoldry becomes a logical factor in a loveless, materialistic marriage. It is clear that the desire to possess and control

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