Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 81
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friendships. As noted previously, he does not want to eradicate marriage from society-that is
evident in his support of Harcourt's future marriage to Alithea-but he does want to intrude
upon the marriages of his less worthy friends because their marriages enable men to keep the
wives in a more subservient status. Since Homrner genuinely cares about the wives, it is logical he
would not support them embarking in an institution that only serves to enslave them. In fact,
Horner needs the wives not just for sexual gratification and satisfaction, but because he has
developed genuine friendships with them. Hornier's only true investment in his friendships with
the husbands is the access they provide him to their wives. Once he ingratiates the wives with
his charm and divulges to them that his eunuch disguise is indeed false, they keep his secret and
confide in him their need to retain the appearance of virtue. In Act II, scene i, the ladies discuss
their need to assume the identity as a "woman of honor." Lady Fidget and Mistress Dainty
Fidget point out the following to Homrner:
Squeam. 'Tis true, no body takes notice of a private
Man, and therefore with him, 'tis more secret,
and the crime's the less, when 'tis not known.
Lad. You say true; y faith I think you are in the
right on't: 'tis not an injury to a Husband, till it
be an injury to our honours; so that a Woman
of honour looses no honour with a private
Person; and to say truth- (The Country Wife II. i. 480-85)
Rose Zimbardo observes the following about Horner: "Once he has distinguished the ladies who
'love the sport,' however, he is as anxious as they that the illusion of their virtue be preserved,
for it provides another screen for his operations" (Zimbardo 94). Hornier respects-or at least
chooses not to disclose the wives' disguise to their husbands-their needs for discretion and
maintaining a facade of virtue and the women, in return, keep his eunuch disguise a secret from
their husbands. Homer depends on the secrecy of the women for his position of control and
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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/m1/87/?q=rochester: accessed October 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .