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Moral Virtue at William Wycherley's The Country Wife Essay

Project id 1008218
Subject area Biology
Document type Essay
Words 1583
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The Country Wife -- written by William Wycherley in 1675 -- is a Restoration comedy based upon the life span of this aristocracy. Restoration comedy is a kind of drama which has been created in the late seventeenth century. It refers to the period in England when King Charles II was returned as the mind of the English empire. Life under King Charles II was seen as hedonistic: individuals were inspired by enjoyment. These moral virtues represented the degradation of society, rampant with sexual explicitness and obscenity ("Charles II"). The definition of moral virtue can be very ambiguous. With the aim of this essay I will define ethical virtue as such: A set of accepted qualities or traits which are recognized as "directly" or "great" in society. The Characters of The Country Wife set out to wrong one another. William Wycherley remarks on the degradation of ethical virtue in society through the negative values held by his or her characters. The figures exemplify immoral and disgraceful traits such as jealousy, deception, and sexuality. The concept of jealously in The Country Wife is personified through Harcourt, the dashing and perverted friend of Horner who falls in love with Alethea. Harcourt is covetous of Sparkish who's set to marry his mistress Alethea. Harcourt conveys to Alethea that he feels in marrying Sparkish she'd be dishonouring herself: "should you wed him-with your pardon, madam- / your reputation suffers on earth" (II.i.235-236). Wycherley uses Harcourt to exemplify that the impact jealously can have on a person. Harcourt admits himself a rival to his former friend Sparkish and insults him in the hopes that Alethea with change her thoughts. "He's under an injury-a / bubble, a coward, a senseless idiot, a wretch so contemptible.

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