Restrictions of Reputation in William Wycherley’s The Country Wife

1379 WordsFeb 21, 20185 Pages
Restrictions of Reputation in William Wycherley’s The Country Wife In William Wycherley’s The Country Wife, the hypocrisy of the character’s actions undermines their verbal definitions of what is truly honorable or virtuous. Through the use of this persistent hypocrisy, Wycherley implies that there is a disconnect between what is said and what is done. Wycherley suggests that there is no honor in words as they can have a multitude of meanings, and exposes the duplicitous function of language as the veneer that reflects an inherently dishonorable society. For many of the characters in the play, honor only exists through their words and is associated with reputation rather than virtue, which Wycherley exposes through the use of another deceiving character, Horner. Yet, despite these negative characteristics of certain members of society, Wycherley does not criticize their choice of deception; rather he appears to suggest that it is a necessary tool and those that know how to use it will reap their rewards. With this in mind, Wycherley implies the mask of deceit and falsities has become the actual face of Restoration society, suggesting that the mask acts as a social restraint that needs to be exposed as such and subsequently changed. The minor characters in play immediately reveal that their view of honor is synonymous with their reputation. This is especially true in the case of Lady Fidget’s “virtuous circle,” as their convoluted discourse exposes their lack of virtue

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