The Country Wife

Margery Pinchwife Character Analysis

Margery is the young bride of Pinchwife and the titular “country wife.” She is seduced by Horner and eventually becomes his mistress when she outsmarts her husband and escapes from his jealous supervision. Margery is naïve and unfamiliar with the way of life in the city. Pinchwife believes that Margery is stupid and easily manipulated and he marries her because he is terrified that, if he marries an intelligent wife, she may make him a “cuckold.” Margery, however, is not stupid but is simply young and inexperienced. During her stay in the city, Margery proves herself to be as intelligent, devious and resourceful as Pinchwife believes town wives to be. She proves that she can think quickly and lie to protect herself. Although Pinchwife believes that Margery is innocent and unsexual, Margery is a sensual person who is immediately drawn to the good-looking actors at the theatre. The only real difference between Margery and the town ladies, like Lady Fidget and Mrs. Squeamish, is that she does not understand the etiquette or rules of city life. She has no interest in maintaining her reputation, as she does not realize she has one to protect, and she does not assume that extramarital love equates to “ruin,” as the town ladies do, because she does not understand the town’s hypocritical preoccupation with the appearance of “virtue.” Margery grows wily and experienced in the ways of the town throughout the play. She remains an honest character, however, because she does not realize when it is and is not appropriate to lie and only lies when Pinchwife threatens her or when she is persuaded by the other characters.

Margery Pinchwife Quotes in The Country Wife

The The Country Wife quotes below are all either spoken by Margery Pinchwife or refer to Margery Pinchwife. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Reputation, Appearance, and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Nick Hern Books edition of The Country Wife published in 2002.
Act 2 Quotes

Pinchwife: Ay, my dear, you must love me only, and not be like the naughty town-women, who only hate their husbands and love every man else; love plays, visits, fine coaches, fine clothes, fiddles, balls, treats, and so lead a wicked town-life.

Margery Pinchwife: Nay, if to enjoy all these things be a town-life, London is not so bad a place, dear.

Pinchwife: How! If you love me, you must hate London.

Alithea: The fool has forbid me discovering to her the pleasures of the town, and he is now setting her agog upon them himself.

Related Characters: Margery Pinchwife (speaker), Pinchwife (speaker), Alithea (speaker)
Related Symbols: Blindness
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

Would it not make anyone melancholy, to see you go every day fluttering about abroad, whilst I must stay at home like a poor, lonely, sullen bird in a cage?

Related Characters: Margery Pinchwife (speaker), Pinchwife, Alithea
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

A mask makes people but the more inquisitive, and is as ridiculous a disguise as a stage beard; her shape, stature, habit will be known. And if we should meet with Horner, he would be sure to take acquaintance with us, must wish her joy, kiss her, talk to her, leer upon her, and the devil and all. No, I’ll not use her to a mask, 'tis dangerous; for masks have made more cuckolds than the best faces that ever were known … No — a woman masked, like a covered dish, gives a man curiosity and appetite, when, it may be, uncovered, ’twould turn his stomach.

Related Characters: Pinchwife (speaker), Margery Pinchwife, Alithea
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

Margery Pinchwife: I don't know where to put this here, dear bud. You shall eat it. Nay, you shall have part of the fine gentleman’s good things, or treat, as you call it, when we come home.

Pinchwife: Indeed, I deserve it, since I furnished the best part of it. (Strikes away the orange.)

The gallant treats, presents, and gives the ball; But ’tis the absent cuckold, pays for all.

Related Characters: Margery Pinchwife (speaker), Pinchwife (speaker), Harry Horner
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 4, Scene 1 Quotes

So, ’tis plain she loves him, yet she has not love enough to make her conceal it from me. But the sight of him will increase her aversion for me, and love for him, and that love instruct her how to deceive me and satisfy him, all idiot that she is. Love! ’Twas he gave women first their craft, their art of deluding. Out of nature’s hands they came plain, open, silly, and fit for slaves, as she and heaven intended ’em, but damned love –well – I must strangle that little monster whilst I can deal with him.

Related Characters: Pinchwife (speaker), Harry Horner, Margery Pinchwife
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 4, Scene 4 Quotes

Well, 'tis e'en so, I have got the London disease they call love; I am sick of my husband, and for my gallant. I have heard this distemper called a fever, but methinks ’tis liker an ague, for when I think of my husband, I tremble and am in a cold sweat, and have inclinations to vomit, but when I think of my gallant, dear Mr. Horner, my hot fit comes and I am all in a fever, indeed, and as in other fevers my own chamber is tedious to me, and I would fain be removed to his, and then methinks I should be well.

Related Characters: Margery Pinchwife (speaker), Harry Horner, Pinchwife
Page Number: 119
Explanation and Analysis:
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Sparkish: Lord, how shy you are of your wife! But let me tell you, brother, we men of wit have amongst us a saying that cuckolding, like the smallpox, comes with a fear, and you may keep your wife as much as you will out of danger of infection, but if her constitution incline her to't, she'll have it sooner or later, by the world, say they.

Pinchwife: What a thing is a cuckold, that every fool can make him ridiculous! – Well sir – but let me advise you, now you are come to be concerned, because you suspect the danger, not to neglect the means to prevent it, especially when the greatest share of the malady will light upon your own head, for

Hows’e’er the kind wife’s belly comes to swell
The husband breeds for her, and first is ill.

Related Characters: Pinchwife (speaker), Sparkish (speaker), Margery Pinchwife
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:
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Margery Pinchwife Character Timeline in The Country Wife

The timeline below shows where the character Margery Pinchwife appears in The Country Wife. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2
Reputation, Appearance, and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Love, Marriage, and Misogyny  Theme Icon
Theatre, Puritanism, and Forbidden Desire  Theme Icon
Town vs. Country Theme Icon
In Pinchwife’s house, Margery Pinchwife complains to Alithea, Pinchwife’s sister, that Pinchwife never lets her go out into town... (full context)
Love, Marriage, and Misogyny  Theme Icon
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Pinchwife returns and snaps at Margery as soon as he comes in. Margery begins to cry and Alithea reprimands him. Pinchwife... (full context)
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Pacified slightly, Pinchwife explains to Margery that she must not be like the corrupt town women who cheat on their husbands.... (full context)
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Margery begs Pinchwife to take her into town. Pinchwife tries to dissuade her again and tells... (full context)
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Pinchwife warns Margery that this young man would destroy her, but Margery cannot understand why someone who loves... (full context)
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...Lady Fidget, Mrs. Dainty Fidget, and Mrs. Squeamish, a friend of theirs, arrive to take Margery to the theatre. He will not let them in to see her and he eventually... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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Back at Pinchwife’s house, Margery is depressed because she is not allowed into town. She is envious of Alithea, who... (full context)
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Margery grows irritated when Pinchwife mentions their country home and tells him that she has been... (full context)
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Pinchwife is reluctant but Margery insists. Pinchwife decides that he will take her, but only if she puts on a... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
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Pinchwife, Margery, Alithea, and Lucy pass them in the street. Sparkish tries to hide from Alithea because... (full context)
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Pinchwife is about to take Margery home and shouts back to Alithea, whom they have left behind, that they will not... (full context)
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Pinchwife returns with Margery at this moment and is horrified by what he sees. He insults Sparkish but Sparkish... (full context)
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Theatre, Puritanism, and Forbidden Desire  Theme Icon
...“little brother” with them while Pinchwife goes about his business. Pinchwife tries to insist that Margery is waiting for them at home, but Horner takes hold of Margery, who is dressed... (full context)
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Pinchwife tries to drag Margery away, but Horner announces that they shall go with Pinchwife and have dinner at his... (full context)
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Pinchwife is furious but cannot reveal Margery’s identity. When Horner, Harcourt, and Dorilant finally saunter away, he rushes off to find his... (full context)
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Pinchwife returns and is furious when Lucy tells him that Horner took Margery away to “give him something.” Pinchwife rushes down the nearby streets looking for them. Meanwhile,... (full context)
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Margery rushes back out to meet them and shows them that her hat is full of... (full context)
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Horner leaves with Sir Jasper while Pinchwife still tries to lead Margery away. Harcourt and Dorilant take their leave of Lucy and Alithea and wander off. Margery,... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Love, Marriage, and Misogyny  Theme Icon
Theatre, Puritanism, and Forbidden Desire  Theme Icon
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Pinchwife and Margery are in bed and Pinchwife   repeatedly asks Margery what happened between her and Horner when... (full context)
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Pinchwife demands to know how Margery reacted when Horner did this and she replies that she “stood very still” and even... (full context)
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Pinchwife roars at Margery to go and fetch a pen and paper. He tells her that she is going... (full context)
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Pinchwife tells Margery to open the letter with the word “Sir” and, when Margery asks if it should... (full context)
Love, Marriage, and Misogyny  Theme Icon
Theatre, Puritanism, and Forbidden Desire  Theme Icon
Town vs. Country Theme Icon
...to get a seal and wax to secure the letter and, while he is gone, Margery ponders her situation. She is pleased that she now knows Horner’s name, which she did... (full context)
Theatre, Puritanism, and Forbidden Desire  Theme Icon
Town vs. Country Theme Icon
Pinchwife returns with the seal and, first, checks the letter which Margery has written. She gives him the letter which he has composed and, satisfied, he sets... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
Reputation, Appearance, and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Love, Marriage, and Misogyny  Theme Icon
Town vs. Country Theme Icon
...leave with Sir Jasper, wary of their “honor.” Pinchwife presents Horner with the letter from Margery. Horner is confused but plays along with Pinchwife’s belief that Margery’s letter is abusive and... (full context)
Love, Marriage, and Misogyny  Theme Icon
Horner says that he will only attend the dinner if Margery is there. Sparkish tells Horner that Pinchwife will not let Margery go to a dinner... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
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In her chamber, Margery longs to see Horner and realizes that she is in love with him. She has... (full context)
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Pinchwife keeps Margery in the room while he reads the letter. She has written to Horner that she... (full context)
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Sparkish enters and is startled by the scene; he has come to collect Margery for the wedding dinner. Pinchwife refuses to let her go, as Sparkish anticipated, and locks... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
Love, Marriage, and Misogyny  Theme Icon
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Later that night, in Pinchwife’s house, Pinchwife corners Margery and demands that she finish writing the letter to Horner; he wants to see how... (full context)
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Pinchwife believes that Margery is telling the truth because he does not believe that she could concoct a story... (full context)
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Pinchwife wants to go and speak with Alithea but Margery stops him and says that she had better go instead. As she leaves the room,... (full context)
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Margery returns and says that Alithea wants to be taken to Horner’s house so that she... (full context)
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Margery slips out again and comes back masked and dressed as Alithea. Pinchwife goes to lock... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
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Horner and the Quack are back at Horner’s house. They discuss the unexplained letter from Margery that Pinchwife brought to Horner. While they are talking, Pinchwife leads Margery in. She is... (full context)
Reputation, Appearance, and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Love, Marriage, and Misogyny  Theme Icon
Theatre, Puritanism, and Forbidden Desire  Theme Icon
...Pinchwife has brought him another woman so that he will not be tempted to seduce Margery and Pinchwife is confused and thinks that Horner is joking. Horner insists that he does... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 4
Reputation, Appearance, and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Theatre, Puritanism, and Forbidden Desire  Theme Icon
...masquerade costumes. Horner curses their appearance, as he has not yet had chance to send Margery away and must lock her in another room to avoid her being seen. The ladies... (full context)
Reputation, Appearance, and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
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...Jasper and Old Lady Squeamish arrive to take the ladies home and Horner hurriedly removes Margery from the chamber she has been locked in. He begs her to go home but... (full context)
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...that he recently brought Alithea to his house. Horner quickly decides to betray Alithea for Margery’s sake, as lying about women is nothing new to him, and agrees that Pinchwife did... (full context)
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Love, Marriage, and Misogyny  Theme Icon
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...Pinchwife is insulted on his sister’s behalf and goes to draw his sword. Seeing this, Margery rushes out to defend Horner. (full context)
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Alithea points out that Margery is dressed in her clothes and all becomes clear to the party. Pinchwife damns his... (full context)
Reputation, Appearance, and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Theatre, Puritanism, and Forbidden Desire  Theme Icon
...suggests that all the confusion stems from her efforts to break up Sparkish and Alithea. Margery objects to this, however, and claims that she does love Horner. Pinchwife threatens her again... (full context)
Reputation, Appearance, and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
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...his trip to France has changed all that. Dorilant backs up the Quack’s story, but Margery tries to protest and claim it is not true. Mrs. Squeamish whispers to Lucy to... (full context)
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Margery is disappointed and realizes that she cannot escape from Pinchwife. Alithea reprimands her brother for... (full context)
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Horner suggests that they go to the theatre and Lucy presses Margery to tell Pinchwife that she only came out of the house in disguise to witness... (full context)