The Life and Works of Dramatist Aphra Behn

Best Essays
The Life and Works of Dramatist Aphra Behn

Aphra Behn left a legacy of being not only a complex and enigmatic woman, but a poet, a playwright, a writer, a novelist, and a spy. A commoner who blended with the royalty and revolted against the societal norms with her lewd yet cunning writings, she exhibited the influence of more than just a writer of her time period and left her mark in the canon of English literature by creating her own genre of amatory. She was a feminist, an adventurist, an abolitionist and a civil rights advocate; she encompassed a figure of brilliance and intrigue and the writings she left behind from the seventeenth century only reiterate her ideology. An example of such is the short novel Oroonoko written in 1688 that explores slavery and the impact of civilization all intertwined into a tragic love story. Her works and the influences they cast prove Behn to be a dramatist worthy of the ranks of other famous British writers in this time period.

A woman shrouded by mystery, drama and sensuality, Aphra Behn’s early life appears seemingly contradictory to the author colored by her writings. Although most of Behn’s earlier years are unrecorded in history, it is known however that she was raised strictly under a Catholic influence. Behn later disclosed that she had been "designed for a nun" in her early life and the fact that she had so many Catholic connections not only displayed the irony in her sexualized works, but could have instigated suspicions by other anti-Catholics during the revolt in the 1680s against the Catholic Church (Goreau 243). Born on the tenth of July in 1640 near a town called Canterbury and referred to as the Wye , Aphra was baptized under the name Eaffry and was the second child to he...

... middle of paper ...

... poetry".

Works Cited

Cavendish, Margaret. "The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing World." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006. 2178-2226. Print.

Clark, George, R. G. Collingwood, J. N. L. Myres, F. M. Stenton, Austin Lane. Poole, Maurice Powicke, ,. May. McKisack, E. F. Jacob, J. D. Mackie, J. B. Black, Godfrey Davies, Basil Williams, J. Steven. Watson, Llewellyn Woodward, R. C. K. Ensor, A. J. P. Taylor, and Richard Raper. The Oxford History of England. Oxford: Clarendon, 1964. 294-303. Print.

Goreau, Angeline. Reconstructing Aphra: a Social Biography of Aphra Behn. New York: Dial, 1980. Print.

Summers, Montague. "Memoir of Aphra Behn." Feminism and Women's Studies (1914). Web.

Todd, Janet M. The Secret Life of Aphra Behn. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers UP, 1997. Print.