Country Wife

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David Garrick (1717—1779) actor and playwright


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A comedy by Wycherley, published and probably first performed 1675. It is now considered by many to be his finest play, a sharp satiric attack on social and sexual hypocrisy and greed and on the corruption of town manners, but even in the author's time was attacked for its alleged obscenity. Garrick's version, The Country Girl (1766), aimed to remove the original's ‘immorality’ and ‘obscenity’.

The main plot concerns Mr Pinchwife, who comes to London for the marriage of his sister Alithea, bringing with him his artless young wife Margery; his excessive warnings against wrongdoing put ideas into her head, and she is eventually seduced by Horner, innocently protesting the while that she is merely behaving as town ladies do. Alithea's suitor Sparkish loses her to a new lover, Harcourt, through the opposite fault of excessive credulity. Pinchwife's conclusion, as he apparently accepts the excuse of Horner's impotence, is ‘Cuckolds like Lovers shou'd themselves deceive.’

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

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William Wycherley (1641—1716) playwright