To which degree can "The Rover" be considered a satire?
In her humorous indictment of upper-class society, Aphra Behn satirizes the artifice and superficiality of the social conventions to which people pay lip service but rarely observe—especially in private. The men want virtuous, refined wives, but behind their backs, and behind closed doors, they do their utmost to seduce women and thus take away their virtue, even ruining their reputations. Behn criticizes the men’s wanton disregard for women’s humanity; some treat them as sexual objects to be temporarily used, while others, including their own fathers, make them pawns in their social climbing schemes. The handsome but vacuous Willmore, who lives primarily for seduction, is the epitome of male hypocrisy. Behn presents female protagonists who are virtuous young women—Florinda and Hellen—but also, and unusually for her time, “sinful” women, such as the prostitute Angelica, and especially La Nuche, who vocally condemns hypocritical marriage practices that seem to her a legally sanctioned type of prostitution.
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