Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 80
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between two men except for the fact that neither man is particularly a paragon of virtue and
goodness. Moreover, Homrner's implicit marriage proposal functions more as a way to distract
Pinchwife's attention from Homrner's infidelity with Margery Pinchwife. In short, it is an attempt
on Hornier's part to distract the attentions of the husbands from any suspicions they might harbor
about Homrner's adultery with their wives and his status as a eunuch; it also helps Horner prove to
them his supposed commitment to the Cavalier and Aristotelian ideals of friendship and his
support of the views of friendship each strain advocates.
Horner, Women, Marriage, and the Conclusion of
The Country Wife
Generically, the conclusion of The Country Wife differs from a typical comic ending in
which one or more marriages occur. Instead, the play ends with an unmarried male protagonist,
Hornier, and a promise of a future marriage between Alithea and Harcourt. Novak writes:
Hornier remains unmarried at the conclusion of the play, but to a Libertine that must be
regarded as a blessing. He remains in the city where he thrives, and while there may be
some suggestion of the alienation produced by the city in Homrner's weak defense of
eating in ordinaries, his life is neither tragic nor villainous" (Novak 18).
Hornier gets away with his deception because it benefits all the characters affected by it whereas
other fictional libertines like Don John, for example, commit deceptions that result in general
mayhem and death.
One of the motivations for Homrner's deception includes his defiance of marriage,
specifically in his affairs with married women. Libertinism is dependant upon marriage as an
institution because it provides Wycherley's Homer and other fictional and real life libertines
with an authority against which to rebel, but more importantly, for Homer, it provides him access
to his fellow libertines' wives with whom he can gratify his sexual desires and establish genuine
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Smith, Victoria. Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell, dissertation, May 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc6051/m1/86/?q=rochester: accessed August 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .