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The Role of Women in Aphra Behn's play The Rover - Essay Example

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The paper tells that Aphra Behn reveals the double standard that men in the eighteenth century society had a great dominance over women. In the play women are not given many options in terms of lifestyle. Society only allots them one of three choices: marriage, harlotry, or church. …
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The Role of Women in Aphra Behns play The Rover
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The Role of Women in Aphra Behn's play The Rover

Download file to see previous pages... This study looks into the characters in Behn’s play which exemplify this notion of hypocrisy in males, men desire to have a wife in his home but to have a whore in his bed and neither the two shall meet. Behn takes these two roles and combines it into one character, Helena. This woman is considered to be a respectable in society’s eyes and being the youngest sister she is not going to be married and instead is bound for the nunnery. Seeing her sister’s distress at being forced to marry someone not of her own choosing, Helena expresses to her brother that she would “rather be a nun, than be obliged to marry as [he] would have [her], if [she] were designed for it”. The text is challenging the stereotypical roles designated women during this time period. By donning a mask, Helena assumes an anonymous identity and is able to temporarily escape her fate. In an act of rebellion she defies her brother’s wishes she seeks to engage in the activity that has been denied her. She has been given orders that she should not partake in the Carnival, however, after persuading her brother’s manservant to let her attend it, she responds to his question of what she will do there by saying she will do, “[t]hat which all the world does, as I am told, be as mad as the rest, and take all innocent freedoms”. Searching for love, behind a mask, she adopts the role of a harlot, and in doing so frees herself from the societal confines of her position. In this new role Helena is able to express herself and pursue her desires without discrimination.   Women in the Play the Rover are doomed: Hellena to convent, Florinda to family life and Angellica Bianka to her job. The author emphasized the fact that the women are usually treated as inanimate object and tries to resist this fact. The playwright insists that women are obviously commodificated by the society they live in. Behn states that women are always “accused of” something because of holding too much responsibility. It is obvious that the author went through such as attitude herself. Elin Diamond notes that Behn “concentrated on exposing the exploitation of women in the exchange economy, adding vividly to contemporary discourse on the oppressions of marriage” (Diamond 525). She demonstrates how differently women can be treated according to their position in the society. Behn demonstrates that women are usually doomed to something like prostitution, unhappy marriage, convent etc. No matter what life a woman is doomed to, she remains unhappy. In the first conversation between two women Aphra Behn shows the trap of unhappy marriage women usually appear in. Florinda tells Hellena about her future marriage with rich old man that is arranged by her father notwithstanding that she loves young colonel. She says: “I shall let him see I understand better what’s due to my beauty, birth, and fortune, and more to my soul, than to obey those unjust commands” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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