The Rover, By Aphra Behn Essays

The Rover, By Aphra Behn Essays

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In Aphra Behn 's The Rover, the gender roles in society are particularly divisive. Gender roles were a major focus throughout the Restoration and especially in this play. The main conflict of the play is the attempt of Helena, Florinda ,and Angellica Bianca to avoid the fate their families have chosen for them.The play comes to the conclusion that there were only two “patriarchal definitions” of women: either that of a virgin or a whore. We see both of these in each of the major female characters and it seems important to note that there seemed to be no middle ground in terms of the way women were perceived. Women and femininity in the case of rape were not necessarily seen as the victims and more so as the provokers of their fates. The Rover is a feminist play ,Behn proves through the three female characters, the libertine female actually held no place in society and they had no prominent roles with power.
Inherently ,women have participated in society in several ways. Whether being commodities or as the makers of their homes. Behn shows through this play that women can definitely play several different roles, when it comes to finding love and marriage. The main female characters each begins the play bound one of the three fates: Florinda is to get married, Helena is to become a nun, and Angelica Bianca is supposed to become a high class prostitute.  Through Carnival, however, these women abandon their prescribed positions . First, their disguises are able to equalize the class positions. Their initial costumes as gypsies allow them to approach men in a more feminized way. Not only can they approach them in a more feminize way, gypsied already were perceived as outcasts in society and by taking on the role of gypsies, Florinda a...


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...hat by presenting us with strong female characters that have the ability to make decisions of their own , and then by removing their freedoms , that the libertine woman cannot exist in this society. All of this evidence makes it clear that Behn and society did not see rapes as terrible and malicious acts. However, rapes were seen as parts of society. The rapes were perceived to be a social norm, and still men weren 't seen as vicious animals. Once again enforcing the gender roles. Women are going to always be seen as less than, and society will remain patriarchal. Behn’s plays are considered feminist , because they seek gender equality, but Behn and several other female writers, seem to not know the solution to the issue of the double standard. The Rover, like many restoration comedies, show mens feelings of entitlements and their deep rooted feelings toward females.

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