The Country Wife

The Country Wife and Reversal of Power Dynamics College

Throughout Wycherley’s play The Country Wife, characters reverse the time period’s normal power dynamics of reputation and gender to create power from a state of powerlessness. While certain characters appear to be powerful due to their status, honor and reputation, other seemingly powerless characters are able to gain power over these characters through trickery. The protagonist Horner deliberately places himself and his reputation in a situation seen as powerless and deceptively manages to gain power over many of the other characters. The women of the play, in a less powerful position due to the time period’s unfortunate gender roles rather than by choice, similarly use deception to gain power over their apparently more powerful husbands by using Horner’s treachery to their advantage. Wycherley, in showing that the play’s women are only able to gain power by taking advantage of Horner’s improbable situation, may have been ridiculing the period’s gender roles and suggesting that they were unjust.

While it may seem more likely that one would gain the most power from a strong reputation and good status, the protagonist Horner purposefully tarnished his own reputation in order to gain more power in an unexpected way. Power in The...

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