(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The Fair Jilt introduces the beautiful femme fatale Miranda, whose unconcerned and unrestrained pursuit of romance and pleasure jeopardizes the lives of others. The narrative divides into two loosely intertwined parts, one involving the heroine’s love for an exiled German prince, Henrick, and a second involving her marriage to Tarquin, the only son of a wealthy Dutch merchant. Miranda, joint heiress with her younger sister to a large fortune, enters an Antwerp convent following the death of her parents, though she has no intention of making permanent vows.

In retaliation for Miranda’s numerous shallow flirtations, the God of Love imposes upon her a deep, genuine love for a young Franciscan friar, who is devoted to his vocation and his vow of chastity. After learning that he is a German prince named Henrick (complete with a tragic past), Miranda begins pursuing him through letters and calculated meetings, offering herself and her inheritance and imploring him to elope with her. He steadfastly refuses all of her advances. Unable to comprehend that he would refuse her because of his religious devotion, she accuses him of rape and sees him sentenced to death, a sentence commuted to life imprisonment after some of her letters to him have been released.

In the second episode, she meets and marries the young Tarquin, whose love for her exceeds anything she feels for him. Having inherited her fortune and having become guardian for her...

(The entire section is 566 words.)

The Fair Jilt Bibliography

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Aughertson, Kate. Aphra Behn: The Comedies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

Chalmers, Hero. Royalist Women Writers, 1650-1689. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Hughes, Derek. The Theater of Aphra Behn. New York: Palgrave, 2001.

Hughes, Derek, and Janet Todd, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Aphra Behn. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Hunter, Heidi, ed. Rereading Aphra Behn: History, Theory, and Criticism. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993.

Link, Frederick M. Aphra Behn. New York: Twayne, 1968.

Sackville-West, Victoria. Aphra Behn: The Incomparable Astrea. New York: Viking Press, 1928.

Todd, Janet. The Secret Life of Aphra Behn. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1997.

Todd, Janet, ed. Aphra Behn. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999.

Todd, Janet. Aphra Behn Studies. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Woodcock, George. Aphra Behn: The English Sappho. Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1989.