Can you help me to compare love, religon and types of narrator in "The Tempest" by William Shakespeare and "The Country Wife" by William Wycherley?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As both "The Tempest" by William Shakespeare and "The Country Wife" by William Wycherley are plays, they don't have narrators, per se. The term "narrator" in literary criticism is used to describe a voice which tells, rather than enacts a story. This is the main difference between a play and a novel. In a novel, there is exposition, in which someone tells us about what characters do, with a limited amount of dialogue. A play, which is designed for performance by actors, has people standing on stage pretending to be the characters. The scripts of plays consist primarily of dialogue, with a limited amount of stage directions which explain what the actors should be doing (exits and entrances, for example).

In certain ways, structurally (but not stylistically), Prospero almost functions as a narrator at the start and end of "The Tempest", framing the play and serving as the character who provides exposition for the audience, but he does so within dramatic context. None of the characters in "The Country Wife" really function in this way.

In terms of religion, both plays were written by British authors after Henry VIII had declared the independence of the Church of England from Rome, making the country officially Protestant. Shakespeare's play is set in Roman Catholic Italy, but does not really overtly discuss religion, and has many magical elements. Wycherley's play is set in his own period, after the Restoration of the monarchy and church, and the characters in the play would have been members of the Church of England. However, given that the plot of the play revolves mainly around adultery and fornication, and the characters frankly enjoy their own sensuality with few religious or ethical qualms, the characters don't seem particularly pious.

In terms of love, Wycherley's play, as most Restoration Comedy, focuses on love as a desire to be gratified. For most of the characters in the play, love is a form of entertainment. The main love story in "The Tempest" is between Miranda and Ferdinand, two rather more innocent young lovers, who are described as about to marry when they return to Naples.