In her poem “To the fair Clarinda,” Aphra Behn writes of a companionship between the speaker and Clarinda. This paper will attempt to prove that Clarinda is a hermaphrodite instead of a woman as is popularly believed, thus completely changing the meaning of the poem.
In the first few lines, the speaker decides to call Clarinda “Lovely Charming Youth” (4) instead of “Fair lovely Maid” (1). The speaker says that the name will “lessen my constraint” (6). This could refer to the sexual feelings that are holding her back because of the womanly part of Clarinda. “And without Blushes I the Youth persue” (7) tells how the speaker is not embarrassed to desire Clarinda now that she is referred to as a Youth.
Farther into the first stanza, the speaker talks about how the love between her and Clarinda is not wrong because Clarinda is perceived by the rest of the world to be only a woman, and two women in a friendly, romantic relationship was perfectly normal at this time. The speaker says that Clarinda was born as a hermaph...
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