As Angelica's portrait is unveiled and the terms of her "bargain" are revealed, the male characters in this scene are reduced to petty squabbling as they try and do their best to vie for Angelica's attention. The theme of this scene is the power that women have over men, and...
As Angelica's portrait is unveiled and the terms of her "bargain" are revealed, the male characters in this scene are reduced to petty squabbling as they try and do their best to vie for Angelica's attention. The theme of this scene is the power that women have over men, and this is exemplified through the behaviour of the men and the way that they are more than willing to pay her massively inflated price. Clearly man's reason is weakened by female beauty, and this is something that Angelica is able to exploit to her own advantage. It is ironic that Angelica falls in love with Willmore in spite of his poverty, showing the way that love in this play is a greater force than wealth. Angelica says that she has avoided falling in love, which Moretta describes as the "disease of our sex," through happy chance:
A kind, but sullen Star, under which I had the Happiness to be born; yet I have had no time for Love; the bravest and noblest of Mankind have purchas'd my Favours at so dear a Rate, as if no Coin but Gold were current with our Trade.
She is introduced as a character who has never experienced love and only responds to gold in the bestowing of her favours, yet the love she develops for Willmore turns out to be a force greater than all the gold she is offered for her body by other male suitors. Note the way that Angelica describes the star as "sullen," indicating her own willingness to experience love. Although the key focus in this scene is on the power that women have over men and the transcendent power of love, at the same time it is important to consider how the positions of Florinda and Angelica are juxtaposed to highlight the differences of their situation: for Angelica being loved and loving is more important than monetary recompense for her "services," and thus the play presents Angelica as facing the opposite dilemma that Florinda faces. This play therefore seems to sharply criticise the way that women are forced into making marriages where love is not an issue.