What is the significance of the title The Country Wife?

The title The Country Wife is a double entendre pointing to the racy content of this play. Not only does Mrs. Pinchwife come from the country, the term "country wife" sounds very similar to a lewd term for female genitalia, implying that she sleeps around. At the end, "country wife" also comes to mean being stuck with her husband despite her desire to do what she wants sexually.

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Not performed for many years because of its openly salacious content, the title, The Country Wife , like so much in the play, is a double entendre. A country woman was often contrasted to a city woman in literature as pure and innocent, removed from the vices and temptations of...

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Not performed for many years because of its openly salacious content, the title, The Country Wife, like so much in the play, is a double entendre. A country woman was often contrasted to a city woman in literature as pure and innocent, removed from the vices and temptations of a sophisticated urban environment. The joke—and pun—of the title, is that this country wife, Mrs. Pinchwife, is the opposite of the sexually pure country lass. The title can be read as a combination of a rude term for female genitalia and the word "try," which is fitting for Mrs. Pinchwife's sexual appetites: she is interested in sex and sleeping around, especially with Horner. A running joke in the play is that her jealous husband has married her thinking that, as a country girl, Mrs. Pinchwife will be innocent and faithful, which is not the case. Further, in trying to warn her away from sexual encounters, he inadvertently and comically gives her useful information.

Mrs. Pinchwife has a desire for frankness at the end of the play, which leads to another definition of country wife. She wants to let everyone know that Horner is not the impotent man that people believe him to be. She knows from personal experience that Horner is anything but impotent and hopes she can get rid of her husband and be with Horner if her husband realizes she has been unfaithful. To her dismay, however, Horner and the other wives manage to control the situation and convince Mr. Pinchwife that Horner is impotent. Therefore, Mrs. Pinchwife becomes a country wife in yet another way, for as she says,

I must be a Country Wife still, for I can't, like a City one, be rid of my musty Husband and do what I list.

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