Feminism and the Rover

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Feminist Theory in The Rover The Rover is a play written by Aphra Behn in 1677 which takes place in Naples during the time of Carnival in the 1650’s. It was a time of the Banish’d Cavaliers which is also the alternate title of the play. In this paper, I will prove that this play is a feminist text as per the definitions set forth by Peter Barry in Beginning Theory. Barry states that in order to apply Feminist Theory to a text, there are several steps a feminist critic must follow. (Barry 128) Some of these include the following: “rethink the canon, aiming at the discovery of texts written by women; revalue women’s experience; examine the representations of women in literature by men and women; examine power relations which obtain in texts and in life, with a view to breaking them down, seeing reading as a political act, and showing the extent of patriarchy and raise the question of whether men and women are essentially different because of biology, or are socially constructed as different.” (Barry 128) The whole play is centered on the female characters and their prospective relationships. Although the name implies that it about the male characters, it is the females that this play focuses upon. The dialogue between the characters is full of innuendoes and hidden meanings. The dialogue is often very daring for the time period in which this play takes place. The Rover certainly fits the criteria set forth by Barry in his steps for feminist critics. His first step is to rethink the canon to include texts written by women. Aphra Behn was the first female writer to be successful in England. She was considered to be one of the most popular playwrights in her time.
In Act I, Scene I of The Rover, several more of Barry’s steps are evident. In this opening scene to the play, the audience is introduced to three female characters and one male character. The very first dialogue is between the characters of Hellena and Florinda. Hellena and Florinda are sisters who



Cited: Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009. Print Behn, Aphra. The Rover. London: New Mermaids, 1995. Print

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