Aphra Behn Drama Analysis
Although Aphra Behn lived in an age of great intellectual ferment, her ideas on politics and society are usually commonplace and traditional. In reading her plays, one is tempted to look for connections with current feminist concerns, but except for her deep concern that marriage be entered into on the basis of mutual affection and not contracted for social or monetary reasons, there is little that Behn wished to change in the relationship between the sexes. She knew herself too well, furthermore, to attribute greater virtue to women than to men. If she did not appear to be interested in demonstrating the virtue of her sex, she at least used her plays to celebrate its power.
The Forced Marriage and The Amorous Prince
Behn began her literary career with two plays whose technique and style are based on the romantic tragicomedies written in collaboration by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher. Plays of this type permit a serious subject to be explored while avoiding a tragic resolution of the conflict. The first of her dramas in this vein was entitled The Forced Marriage, a work whose theme is the conflict between love and honor. This play was followed by The Amorous Prince. In this play, Behn uses a double plot in which the worldly protagonist first seduces an innocent country lass and then proceeds to fall in love with his best friend’s fiancée. The play thus contrasts rural innocence with urban corruption and probes...
(The entire section is 1616 words.)
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