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William Wycherlys The Country Wife includes abundant references to masks or masquerades, which demonstrate how disguising or concealing

a face can influence societal position. Whenever a mask is mentioned, there is a connection with one of the following themes: beauty or honor. oth concepts, which define identity, are based on surface appearances. !asks, used to deceive societys "udgment, illustrate how beauty and honor can be manipulated. #ven though one may lack these two characteristics, a false covering can alter their position in the community. y providing the chance to possess beauty or honor, masks interfere with the designated roles in society. $emales ranging from hideous to beautiful can always increase their appeal with a mask. %inchwife, fearful of being cuckolded, re"ects the idea of masking his wife when she wants to venture out in public. &e believes that a masked woman becomes more alluring than any attractive one because curiosity acts as an aphrodisiac. 'n ()ender and *e+uality at the !asquerade,, -my &ees asserts that ecause the masquerade focused on the disguise of identity, the face was often hidden and the body emphasi.ed !asks were particularly significant as aphrodisiacs: /conventional wisdom held that someone donning a mask, especially a woman, e+perienced an abrupt loss of se+ual inhibition. *ince a mask provided detachment from identity, it provided a sort of detachment from traditional morality, as well. 0&ees 12 #ven an ugly female becomes desirable in a mask. %inchwife argues that masked faces have produced more cuckolds than pretty faces. #+plaining his reasoning to -lithea, %inchwife e+claims, (a woman masked, like a covered dish, gives a man curiosity and appetite, when, it may be, uncovered, /twould turn his stomach, 0'''.i.11341152. &e does not want to give his wife this se+ual power by allowing her to wear a mask. -lithea assents and adds, (a beauty masked, like the sun in eclipse, gathers together more ga.ers than if it shined out, 0'''.i.16141672. oth characters agree that masks defraud society about appearance. -lithea, however, reframes %inchwifes argument by referring to beauty. 'n this scene of The Country Wife, both beautiful and unattractive women are credited with using masks to change their visages. - mask or visor, therefore, represents an ob"ect of deceit because it facilitates the invention of beauty or se+uality. $urthermore, a positively altered appearance enhances ones image in society. Therefore, masks damage the overall value and significance of beauty. 't is the opinion of society that a covered face enhances ones beauty and se+uality, and thus, %inchwife forbids his wife from ever donning this accessory. 'n addition to augmenting ones physical appeal, a disguised face enables the preservation of honor. 8ady $idget and her female friends allow themselves to be seen at !r. &orners house because he has the reputation of being a eunuch. 9espite the fallacy of this rumor, the town believes the tale of &orners impotency. &e is not a se+ual threat, and therefore, it is socially acceptable for women to be alone in his house. #ven though these females are neither honorable nor moral wives, the community still believes that they possess this trait, which ironically enables them to keep their honor. When %inchwife, a man capable of engaging in heterose+ual intercourse, enters !r. &orners house, 8ady $idget departs in order to preserve her reputation. #ven though she is accompanied by her husband, she comprehends that this social situation "eopardi.es her honor. *he announces, (:h 8ord, heres a man. *ir ;aspar< !y mask, my mask. ' would not be seen here for the world, 0'=.iii.6>646>72. *he immediately seeks cover by concealing her face with a mask. *he obscures her countenance so society cannot recogni.e her identity. Without identification, her character cannot be "udged. 'dentity is crucial for determining social position. This e+plains why masks, which prevent recognition, contain incredible importance in ?estoration drama. Wycherlys references to masks illustrate how those who commit dishonorable deeds can still preserve their honor. @sing a vi.ard or mask for

disguise conceals identity, which suffices to preserve ones honor in the community. - masked face remains an honorable face, which decreases inhibitions and augments se+ual activity. 8ady $idget and her followers coordinate a masquerade party at &orners residence, which is socially acceptable because of his reputation. #ach woman arrives at the party with her face covered. *ince their identities remain secret, they engage in immoral activities without threatening their honorable reputations. -s the women consume more alcohol, however, they no longer need the barrier of a mask for protection. -lcohol assuages a guilty conscience. Without these inhibitions, face4coverings are no longer necessary. $or e+ample, when the doors are locked and the company becomes slightly into+icated, 9ainty e+claims, (Well, in token of our openness and plain dealing, let us throw our masks over our heads, 0=.iv.AA4A>2. -lcohol has enabled the presence of candidness. :nce these costumes are discarded, the conversation becomes more intimate and &orner and his guests begin to discuss their reputations. 8ady $idget admits she manipulates her own face in public into a mask. &er praiseworthy actions are meant to deceive society. !rs. *queamish consents and confesses to &orner (that BtheC demureness, coyness, and modesty that you see in our faces in the bo+es at plays is as much a sign of a kind woman as a vi.ard4mask in the pit, 0=.iv.117411D2. !rs. *queamish labels herself a (kind woman,, one who will readily indulge in se+ual favors. *he e+plains that her modest face, a mask necessary to high society, e+presses the same intentions as those women who mask themselves to delineate their positions as prostitutes. #ach woman unanimously agrees with !rs. *queamishs statement and e+plains that she wears invisible masks to appear honorable to society. !asquerading at &orners residence will not ruin the honor of these women, and therefore they use him without fear of repercussion. 8ady $idget summari.es their scheme when she says, Though we get no presents, no "ewels of B!r. &ornerC, we are savers of our honor, the "ewel of most value and use, which shines yet to the world unsuspected, though it be counterfeit. 01E5>2 The authors use of masks in The Country Wife demonstrates how disguising ones face can preserve a reputation of honor. William Wycherly insinuates that an ugly appearance or dishonorable character will not automatically condemn one to the fate of a social pariah. Clever or strategic use of a mask can either enhance attractiveness or protect a reputation. The Country Wife indicates that beauty and honor are defined and "udged by the opinions of society. *ince both concepts are also based on surface appearances, a mask can alter ones beauty or honor. The theme of disguising ones appearance is consistent with other plays from the ?estoration #ra. Wycherly, however, rewards deceit because his masked characters benefit from their vi.ards. 8oves 8ast *hift and The ?elapse also focus on deceitfulnessF however, these plays illustrate the repercussions of feigning ones identity.

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