Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on William Wycherley's The Country Wife. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The Country Wife: Introduction
The Country Wife: Plot Summary
The Country Wife: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The Country Wife: Themes
The Country Wife: Quotes
The Country Wife: Characters
The Country Wife: Terms
The Country Wife: Symbols
The Country Wife: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of William Wycherley
Historical Context of The Country Wife
Other Books Related to The Country Wife
- Full Title: The Country Wife
- When Written: 1672-3
- Where Written: Isle of Wight
- When Published: 1675
- Literary Period: Restoration
- Genre: Comedy of manners
- Setting: London during the Restoration period.
- Climax: Horner’s doctor publicly affirms that Horner is a eunuch, leaving his mistress’ reputations (and their husbands’ pride) intact
- Antagonist: Pinchwife
Extra Credit for The Country Wife
Censorship. Although The Country Wife was popular in the early Restoration, a period of cultural liberalism, it gradually fell out of favor with middle class audiences because of its sexual content. Eventually, the play was considered too provocative to be performed and was banned from 1753-1924. A sanitized version of the play, called The Country Girl, was performed instead during this period.
Art Imitates Life. Just as The Country Wife is a play filled with intrigue and disguise, Wycherly’s own life in the court of Charles II reflected some of this theatrical extravagance. For example, it was rumored that Wycherly flirted with Charles II’s mistress, Barbara Villiers, after she saw and enjoyed one of his plays. After this interaction, it was widely believed that Villiers would go to visit Wycherly in his lodgings disguised as a peasant girl to hide her identity.