The Rover by Aphra Behn Essay example

The Rover by Aphra Behn Essay example

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In The Rover by Aphra Behn the reader is shown how all a woman could do during the 1600’s in Europe was sell herself through marriage or prostitution through the characters Hellena and Angellica. Both women have different views on love, sex, and marriage. Hellena is a woman who does not want to be controlled by men. It has been determined by her father and brother that she will join a nunnery, which she rejects. Hellena doesn’t want her desires to be controlled and feels she has the right to love if she chooses and who she can love. Hellena can be seen as a modern day free spirit, and Behn uses this as a way to resist the double standard applied to woman and the idealization of what a “proper” woman is. Hellena falls for a man, Willmore, while attending Carnival and it is her wit in the dialogue with Willmore that the reader sees that Hellena is not foolish in knowing how men view and treat their women. Hellena knows that Willmore will not be faithful and uses her virginity as a way for him to marry her because that is her only way of not going into nunnery as she says, “What shall I get? A cradle full of noise and mischief, with a pack of repentance at my back” (pg 590). Hellena takes control of her situation that marriage is a necessity for women and she will not act as a “prostitute” where she will sleep with a man without a marital commitment. Angellica is a foil character to Hellena. While Hellena wants marriage, Angellica vows "nothing but gold shall charm my heart” (pg 564) meaning she has chosen a life of prostitution. It is not until she too falls in love with Willmore that she tries to believe that her lower status won’t matter and his love for her can be above that. However, because she lives a life of prostitution an...


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...that he loves her by saying he would love to be with her and can change her mind on men because he can “cure those wounds your eyes have made” (568). Angellica falls for Willmore because she thinks he is sincere, when really he is just saying whatever he has to say to make her sleep with him without him having to pay for it. Angellica becomes overcome with passion and says about Willmore that “though hast a power too strong to be resisted” because it has probably been the only man who has truly fought for her love and been honest in the sense that he admits he cannot afford her, does not like her and her choice of profession, but that he “loves” her entirely. Angellica is both a sexually and economically independent women, who falls for a man who eventually breaks her heart and proves to her that her attitude that men are purposely for money and not love is true.

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