Done by Mary and Velvet


Two Aspects of the Discussion of Women in The Rover:

1. Position of women in a patriarchal society.

2. The Difficulty of distinguishing women of varying statuses.


Angellica’s whining!~


1. Position of women in a patriarchal society

– women as commodities

– restricted to only the private spheres


Before marriage, women of Florinda’s class are controlled by men of their family namely being Pedro and Florinda’s father respectively. After marriage, the wife moves from being controlled by men of her family to being controlled by her husband. Hellena’s description of Florinda’s future role is also one that is confined to the “new apartment he makes his dressing room”, dwelling in the country and namely the bedroom of the new house. Thus, it seems that here, Florinda and Hellena through their discussion, have come to an understanding where marriage is a problematic situation and institution that serves only to continue the entrapment of women, as they are seemingly “properties” that only have transferred hands.

In another situation, Angellica is like a commodity belonging to only herself when she has yet to fall in love with Willmore. She has the wit and beauty like no others when she is not in love, serving to only increase her material value and desire in the eyes of men. However, the instance she falls in love and gives her love and money away to Willmore is the time of her downfall as her “commodity value”, or prestige, fell and he thus shifts his attention away from her. As a result, the vulnerability to romantic love shifts her away from a position of strength in an economic system which recognizes her value as a priceless commodity to one of dependence in the economy of emotion (p26, Anne Russell). She is now transformed from an articulate and intelligent character to a stereotype of a jealous and emotional woman.

To add on, even while Angellica may have been a famous courtesan before she fell in love, and is even a relatively successful commodity belonging to only herself, her success is one that arises out of her popularity in the “private sphere” of life even though she is a “public woman”, aka being popular notoriously, regardless of her popularity amongst men.

Thus, the above two situations shows how women are still being “commodified” by men regardless of their societal ranks in the patriarchal society. More ironically, despite it being the Carnival Time, a period which emphasized greatly on freedom, women are still largely restricted to the private spheres of life.


2. The Difficulty of distinguishing women of varying statuses.

– the trouble (or lack of it?) in trying to tell apart a fair maid and a prostitute.

The difficulty that Blunt has in telling a “maid of quality” from a “harlot” is shared by men throughout the play. Blunt mistakes the prostitute Lucetta for a rich wife who loves him, and Willmore mistakes Florinda for a prostitute. It is almost as if it is a recurring theme that Aphra Behn wants to point out, that sometimes the boundaries separating the women of ranks and “whores” are actually a fine line apart only, perhaps particularly more so to the eyes of men.

In another sense, Behn could indirectly be trying to imply that the different “ranks” of women do not really matter to men as all they merely want could be to move between the different circles of ranks to meet different kinds of women, and also that ultimately, a woman has only one purpose- which is to fufill the sexual expectations of a man. This is somewhat proven when Florinda is saved by her cousin Valeria from being assaulted by Blunt and Frederick only to have perfunctory apologies being made to her, as though nothing more is expected.


So does it mean that the language used by Angellica or Lucetta is about equivalent standards to that of Florinda’s?

Why is the boundary distinguishing a fair maiden from a harlot so ill-defined?


However, the fact that Willmore chooses to offer marriage to Hellena eventually instead of Angellica seems to imply that no matter how the boundaries of women’s rank may be ill-defined at times, ultimately, it is such that a prostitute would still not be extended some social graces as that of a chaste woman. It can be said that perhaps men of the Carnival time still value virginity more than the declaration and offer of free love itself, backing my point fundamentally that perhaps they do feel that a woman’s main purpose is to fulfill the sexual expectations of a man, and offers of something as transient and intangible as love is unimportant and perhaps even meaningless to them.

Question: Is there any parallel to this viewpoint with the fact that the play was revived about a 100 years later? Are there any differences in values and morality with contemporary world? How can we read Florinda’s attempted rape? ( the difficulty of distinguishing women of different classes.. or perhaps more than that? )

Another Question: Are there any questions, class?!?!?!?!?!!?


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