Aphra Behn World Literature Analysis
For an author whose career lasted less than twenty years, Aphra Behn was exceptionally prolific. Her canon contains at least seventeen dramas, and perhaps as many as twenty-one attributions are included. It also includes numerous occasional and lyric poems, fourteen titles in prose fiction, and a handful of translations. She launched her literary career with drama, a natural beginning for an aspiring writer of her time since the theater provided more secure financial rewards than publication. Her plays are exceptionally varied, including tragicomedies, comedies of wit and intrigue, and political satires. Like many authors of her time, she drew upon previous dramatists for plots and characters. For her portrayal of character, conflict, and setting, she is particularly indebted to earlier Jacobean dramatists, such as Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, Thomas Middleton, Richard Brome, and John Marston. In addition to earlier plays, her sources include Spanish and French novellas and, for one drama, The Widow Ranter: Or, The History of Bacon of Virginia (pr. 1689, pb. 1690), a contemporary account of the Virginia colony.
Although her plots are often complex, she is noted for sprightly action and for colloquial, witty dialogue. These qualities appealed to her audience and led to theater revivals of some of her dramas well into the eighteenth century. A recurring theme is young love overcoming obstacles imposed by the lovers’ society and elders. A...
(The entire section is 2626 words.)
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