Quotes about the play
"The only thing original about Wycherley, the only thing which he could furnish from his own mind in inexhaustible abundance, was profligacy. It is curious to observe how everything that he touched, however pure and noble, took in an instant the colour of his own mind. Compare the Ecole des Femmes [MoliÃ¨re's School For Wives) with the Country Wife. Agnes [in the School For Wives] is a simple and amiable girl, whose heart is indeed full of love, but of love sanctioned by honour, morality, and religion. Her natural talents are great. They have been hidden, and, as it might appear, destroyed by an education elaborately bad. But they are called forth into full energy by a virtuous passion. Her lover, while he adores her beauty, is too honest a man to abuse the confiding tenderness of a creature so charming and inexperienced. Wycherley takes this plot into his hands; and forthwith this sweet and graceful courtship becomes a licentious intrigue of the lowest and least sentimental kind, between an impudent London rake and the idiot wife of a country squire. We will not go into details. In truth, Wycherley's indecency is protected against the critics as a skunk is protected against the hunters. It is safe, because it is too filthy to handle and too noisome even to approach." (Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1841) Context: A famous and extreme outburst of Victorian distaste for Wycherley, in a review of Leigh Hunt's edition of Wycherley and other comic dramatists of the Restoration. "When the play concludes with no poetical justice that makes Horner really impotent, leaving him instead still potent and still on the make, the audience laughs at its own expense: the women of quality nervously because they have been misogynistically slandered; the men of quality nervously because at some level they recognize that class solidarity is just a pleasing fiction" (Canfield, p. 128).
Please join StudyMode to read the full document