What are three or more examples of who or what is being satirized in The Country Wife?

Three examples of satire in The Country Wife are that Wycherley uses Harry Horner to satirize the lengths some men went to in Restoration society to get women into bed, he uses Lady Fidget and her friends satirize female sexual hypocrisy, and he uses Pinchwife to satirize men who became overzealous about protecting the sexual virtue of their wives.

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Satire exaggerates human moral failings or weaknesses in order to poke fun at them. In The Country Wife, Wycherley satirizes a range of sexual issues in upper-class Restoration society. Three of these issues are too much emphasis on sexual conquest, hypocrisy about sexual desire, and husbands going overboard in guarding their wives from the sexual perils of society.

Newly freed from the constraints of Puritanism after the restoration of the monarchy, upper-class people sometimes went overboard. Wycherley satirizes this through the figure of Harry Horner, a rake with a huge sexual appetite. Horner gets his doctor, the aptly named Quack, to spread the rumor that venereal disease has made him impotent, or as the plays calls him, "a eunuch." By doing this, Horner hopes husbands will feel safe leaving their wives in his company. Using such an exaggerated and comic plot device, Wycherley pokes fun at the lengths some upperclass men would go to to get women in bed.

Through characters such as Lady Fidget, Mrs. Dainty, and Mrs. Squeamish, who call themselves the "virtuous gang," Wycherley satirizes the hypocrisy of society women who pretend to be faithful and good wives on the surface while being out on the town looking for a good time. For example, Lady Fidget wants to have nothing to do with Horner when she hears the rumors that he is impotent. But when he is able to tell her that is all a ruse, she can't wait to be left alone with him. When the three women mentioned above get together with him, they act like bawdy men, drinking and singing off-color songs.

Finally, in Mr. Pinchwife we get a satiric portrait of an older husband who is so worried that his younger wife is going to be seduced that he becomes overly protective. For example, he keeps her practically a prisoner at home until she insists on going out, then forces her to dress as a man so that she won't be the target of rakes—a plan that backfires.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 14, 2021
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