Katharine Rogers' William Wycherley, in the Twayne's English Authors Series ( New York, 1972), and Paul F. Vernon's booklet, with the same title, in the Writers and their Work Series ( London, 1965, rev. 1970), provide balanced introductions to Wycherley's life and works--his poems and prose maxims, as well as the four comedies.
In his pioneering study, The First Modern Comedies: The Significance of Etherege, Wycherley and Congreve ( Cambridge, Mass., 1959), Norman N. Holland analyses the patterns of contrast and opposition in the three playwrights: outward appearance against inner nature; polite manners against natural desire. Anne Righter shares his view of the love of Harcourt and Alethea as setting a moral standard in The Country Wife; Horner, like Manly, she considers a monomaniac ( John Russell Brown and Bernard Harris (eds.), Restoration Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon Studies, 6 ( London, 1965), 71-91). Rose Zimbardo sees Wycherley as essentially a satirist; her Wycherley's Drama: A Link in the Development of English Satire ( New Haven, 1965) is most persuasive on The Plain Dealer, but her arguments should be placed beside T. W. Craik's reservations about Wycherley's satire: "'Some Aspects of Satire in Wycherley's Plays'", English Studies, 41 ( 1960), 168-79.
In Wild Civility: The English Comic Spirit on the Restoration Stage ( Bloomington, Ind., 1970) Virginia Ogden Birdsall responds to the spiritedness of Wycherley's plays. James Thompson Language in Wycherley's Plays: Seventeenth-Century Language Theory and Drama ( Tuscaloosa, Ala., 1984) scrutinizes the key-words in the plays, while Robert Markley Two-Edg'd Weapons: Style and Ideology in the Comedies of Etherege, Wyckerley and Congreve ( Oxford, 1988) takes a hard line with Harcourt, Alethea, and Manly (a self-righteous bully). An astute reading of the plays which keeps a firm eye on their stage-presence is W. R. Chadwick The Four Plays of William Wyckerley: A Study in the Development of a Dramatist ( The Hague, 1975).
Contemporary attitudes to marriage and the status of women are surveyed by P. F. Vernon ( "'Marriage of Convenience and the Moral Code of Restoration Comedy'", Essays in Criticism, 12 ( 1962), 370-87),