Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*London. Capital and leading city of England. The play depicts fashionable London, in which wives are expected to be ready to deceive their husbands and take lovers and where gentlemen are considered potential or actual rakes. This is a world in which country manners and morals are regularly derided and feminine chastity is associated with lack of London sophistication, except by Margery Pinchwife’s sister, Alithea, who is the play’s true heroine.

Horner’s lodging

Horner’s lodging. London bachelor apartment of Mr. Horner; a key setting in the play, as the place where Horner’s scheme of pretending to be impotent in order to gain access to other men’s wives is announced in the first act. The lodging is later the scene of various seductions and the notorious “china scene,” in which Horner uses the metaphor of “inspecting his china” to describe his conquests of various women. In act 5 the apartment is the setting for the play’s denouement, in which Alithea chooses Harcourt over her naïve suitor, and Pinchwife’s suspicion about Horner’s successful seduction of Margery is refuted by the repetition of the lie about Horner’s supposed impotence, which is reaffirmed by his mercenary doctor.

Pinchwife’s house

Pinchwife’s house. Home of the old cuckold Mr. Pinchwife and his young bride, Margery Pinchwife. The house is a virtual prison for Margery, whom Pinchwife is determined to hide from fashionable London and potential seducers. The location also provides a scene for his debates with his sister-in-law, Alithea, who consistently argues that his effort to “protect” Margery from meeting amatory rakes will produce the opposite effect and make her determined to escape from his zealous confinement of her.

New Exchange

New Exchange. One of many fashionable meeting places for rakes and ladies, it is the setting for Margery’s rebellious adventure away from the house, where disguised as a boy, she encounters Horner, which leads to her seduction.