Rover: Aphra Behn
ENGLISH LITERATURE PAPER 4
THE ROVER: Aphra Behn
Discuss the interplay of the private and the political in Aphra Behn’s “The Rover”.
While analyzing the interplay of the private and the political in Aphra Behn’s “The Rover”, we need to bear in mind that we cannot fully understand Behn’s writing without recognizing the ideological complexities of, and ambiguities in the text. Her work challenges traditional literary values and destabilizes traditional aesthetic and historical assumptions about the literary culture of the English Restoration. As Robert Markley astutely observes, Behn’s “vision challenges the Puritan ideology of self-denial…….the masculinizing of desire – the creation of women as other and as object – that is crucial to a social ideology which insists on the indivisibility of feminine chastity and feminine identity.” Behn’s complex combination of royalism and feminism can then be seen as a form of resistance to Puritan rational thought and the new individualism, which was, as Foucault argues, an ideology of internalized (sexual) discipline, a strategy in which the self regulates the self and in which women are objectified and female desire is denied (History of Sexuality). As Molly Rothenberg argues that owing to her political inclinations of a Tory apologist and a proponent of women’s sexual freedom, Behn draws upon a variety of incommensurate discursive strategies and political values to ground her critique of repression. Thus, her work does not establish or exhibit any inherent political ideology; in fact its theoretical and historical significance lies in its disclosure of the necessarily fragmentarily ideological conditions of its productions, its registering of the discursive crises with late seventeenth century constructions of nature, politics, and sexuality and as Finke believes, “its history of conflict, contradiction, political debate and turbulence.”
The most striking instance of the interplay between the private and...