The Country Wife Plot Analysis

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The Country Wife Summary and Analysis of Act V, Scene 4 and Epilogue.

Scene 4.

Lady Fidget, Dainty Fidget, and Mistress Squeamish meet Harry Horner in his lodging. The ladies have come before Horner was expecting them, and he now plans to lock his most recent conquest, Margery Pinchwife, inside his chamber. The ladies prevent him from stepping aside to lock the door, however, and soon everyone is drinking, singing, and making confessions.

The ladies quickly become bawdy, making double entendres and speaking openly of their frustrations with upper-class husbands, whose sexual preferences tend more to lower-class mistresses than to their wives. Lady Fidget expands upon the fraudulence of honor, indicting both ladies and gentlemen: “Our reputation? Lord! Why should you not think that we women make use of our reputation, as you men of yours, only to deceive the world with less suspicion? Our virtue is like the statesman’s religion, the Quaker’s word, the gamester’s oath, and the great man’s honour: but to cheat those that trust us.”

Lady Fidget is in such a confessional mood that she soon makes open reference to Horner’s being her lover. The revelation shocks Dainty
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Dorilant enters with The Quack, to the relief of Horner, who calls upon The Quack to attest to his impotence. The Quack obligingly whispers to Sir Jasper, “on the word of a physician,” that Horner could not possibly have cuckolded him. Sir Jasper readily believes this medical testimony and apologizes promptly to his wife. He then passes on the information to Pinchwife, who is incredulous and resists even the promise that half the surgeons in London can swear to Horner’s infirmity. Pinchwife is moved only by the information that “all the town has heard the report of him”: he probes, “But does all the town believe it?” The Quack polls the Londoners present, who confirm that they have “heard the late sad report of poor Mr. Horner.” Dorilant goes so far as to call him “an arrant French
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