The Rover has been widely acclaimed by critics to be a feminist play, in particular a proto-feminist play which defined by The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms as ‘a philosophical tradition that anticipated modern feminist concepts and the discussion of women’s issues when the term feminist was nonexistent prior to the twentieth century. The writing is concerned with the unique experience of being a woman or alternatively writing designed to challenge existing preconceptions of gender.’ (Baldick, 2009: 128)
In The Rover, Behn places characters in morally corrupted situations and circumstances to force audiences to reconsider preconceptions, inspiring the new movement in feminist thi...
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...uality keeps her from happiness. Through Angellica, Hellena, and Florinda, Behn reveals that the libertine female has no place in late Stuart society. The playwright’s observation comes as a wistful warning at a time when women seemed to push the limits of tradition. Actresses appearing on stage might feel they had found a career of bodily expression, but from Behn’s experience as a woman with male colleagues, the freedom is a façade. ‘Women on stage faced fetishization and loss of status. Behn’s commentary on women’s position in the late Stuart period serves to point out the double standard of libertinism in court life and the public sphere.’ (Staves, 2004: 73) By exposing and mocking the Puritanical and Cavalier restraints imposed on women, she encourages viewers to reevaluate women’s limited roles in the new age by giving her female characters a louder voice.
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