In The Rover, why does Angellica want to take revenge on Willmore, and what does she do?

In The Rover, Angellica wants to take revenge on Willmore because he has publicly humiliated her. After making false declarations of love, he abandons her for Hellena. In disguise, Angellica follows and confronts him. When she tries to shoot him, however, Antonio disarms her. She takes up with him and relinquishes her lover to marry Hellena.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Aphra Behn’s comedy The Rover, Angellica Bianca is a famous courtesan who seeks a new patron. Captain Willmore, who is the notorious rover of the title, first leads her on and then humiliates her. After she sees Willmore pursuing another woman, Angellica is determined to exact her revenge.

Willmore boldly steps up to accept Angellica’s challenge when she flagrantly advertises for a wealthy patron who can support her in her usual lavish lifestyle. She chooses the brash Englishman over Pedro and Antonio. Although Willmore has neither the resources nor the honest intention to follow through, he professes his ardor. She not only succumbs to his advances but even gives him money. Not being innocent or entirely trusting, she disguises herself and follows her lover. She observes him meeting and wooing the lovely young Hellena.

Angellica sets about avenging the arrogant youth’s multiple acts of humiliation and duplicity. Willmore’s bad behavior soon ensnarls him in a series of catastrophes, some of which involves cases of mistaken identity. Belville is falsely accused of an assault that Willmore committed.

Angellica's initial efforts to confront Willmore are thwarted by the appearance of Hellena, but Angellica finally catches up with him at Blunt’s chamber, where numerous characters converge for the play’s resolution. Still enraged, Angellica threatens to shoot Willmore, but Antonio disarms her. She ends the play partnered with Antonio, and Willmore marries Hellena.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As a desirable courtesan, Angellica has granted her exclusive favors to many men in her time. But Willmore, the upper-class English officer, is different. For one thing, Angellica has fallen head over heels in love with him, so much so that the normal relationship between a man and a courtesan is turned upside down; she ends up giving him money.

As it turns out, however, Willmore has been paying court to Hellena, a rich noblewoman. When Angellica finds out about this, she's absolutely furious. Indeed, she's so infuriated by Willmore's behavior that she vows to exact a terrible revenge upon him.

When it comes to the crunch, however, Angellica cannot bring herself to do it, not least because Willmore appears genuinely remorseful for his actions; he even offers to give her a large purse full of gold as payment for her time.

Even so, it's only the imminent arrival of Don Antonio that prevents Angellica from filling Willmore full of lead. He snatches Angellica's pistol from her hands and then offers to shoot Willmore himself, believing the Englishman to be a rival for Angellica's affections.

Thankfully for Willmore, Angellica doesn't take him up on the offer. Instead, she figures that it will be a far more unpleasant fate for Willmore if he is one day to love a woman who will humble him, thus gaining the revenge that Angellica herself has sought.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team