China Metaphors: an Investigation of the Metaphorical Strategies in The Country Wife’s China Scene


  • Daniela Francesca Virdis University of Cagliari



Underlying the china scene in William Wycherley’s The Country Wife (4.3.76- 233) are the conceptual metaphor sex is china and its linguistic realisations. By applying Conceptual Metaphor Theory to a historical dramatic text, this article has the main research purpose of supplying and analysing linguistic data on the role of these metaphorical devices in this Restoration comedy, and of examining how they concur in the unfolding of its plot in a comic direction. After presenting the research literature on the china scene and the practice of double entendre, the article outlines the theoretical framework to study literary metaphor and figurative techniques from a historical perspective, that is, scholarly work on literary and historical metaphor analysis. The data analysis considers the general metaphor sex is china, its several target subcases and their linguistic realisations in the turns uttered by the characters in the china scene. The possible contributions of this investigation to the research literature reviewed in the theoretical section are that it linguistically demonstrates how Wycherley masters refined figurative language and strategies, and how articulate the china scene is from a cognitive standpoint.

Keywords: china scene; Conceptual Metaphor Theory; literary and historical metaphor analysis; Restoration comedy; The Country Wife; William Wycherley