The Function of Horner’s Irony in Wycherley’s The Country Wife


  • Valentina Rossi Università degli Studi eCampus



The present contribution investigates irony in William Wycherley’s masterpiece, The Country Wife (1675), from a pragmatic perspective. The qualitative analysis focuses on the utterances spoken by Horner, the main character of the comedy. By using a methodological framework based on the main studies published by Grice (1975), Sperber and Wilson (1981), Clark and Gerrig (1984), Kumon-Nakamura, Glucksberg and Brown (1995), and Dynel (2014; 2018), I intend to demonstrate that irony is determinant for both the development of the plot and the achievement of the protagonist’s purpose. Furthermore, the linguistic phenomenon mentioned above can be considered an ingenious device that Wycherley employs to expose the hypocrisy of Restoration society.

KEYWORDS: Restoration comedy; William Wycherley; The Country Wife; pragmatics; irony