What is the character analysis of Willmore in Aphra Behn's The Rover?

Quick answer:

In Aphra Behn's The Rover, the character Willmore is a cavalier and a rover, loyal to Charles II and leading a transient lifestyle. He is dedicated to pursuing pleasure and amusement, with an inconsistent devotion to women. His interaction with Hellena challenges his reluctance to commit to one woman. Despite his promises to Angellica Bianca, he ultimately promises to marry Hellena. Symbolizing the male sex drive, Willmore is driven by the number of his romantic conquests, with his greatest victory perceived as winning Hellena's heart.

Expert Answers

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

Willmore is a cavalier, which means that he is a royalist who is loyal to Charles II during the English Civil War. Willmore is a rover, which means that he travels from place to place on board a ship. During the action of the play, he takes a few days in Naples to enjoy Carnival and then plans to again board the ship to lead his itinerant life. 

When he arrives in Naples, he says, "love and mirth are my business." He is constantly in pursuit of pleasure and amusement, and when he meets Hellena, who tells him that she is soon to go to a nunnery, he feels equal to the challenge of wooing her. He says, "A Nun! Oh how I love thee for't! There's no Sinner like a young Saint." He promises to be dedicated to Hellena, but he regrets that she has made such an impression on him. He says: 

"She has play'd with my Heart so, that 'twill never lie 'still till I have met with some kind Wench, that will play the Game out with me."

In other words, he can't bear to dedicate himself to one woman, and he soon pursues a famous courtesan named Angellica Bianca. He sees her picture on the wall and pulls it down, and then he enters into a fight with some Spaniards. He is rash and impetuous and eager to fight anyone who challenges him. 

Throughout the play, Willmore shows little constancy to one woman. As soon as he has pledged his dedicated to Angellica, he finds Hellena during Carnival and begins to flirt with her. He is a rake until the end of the play, when he promises to marry Hellena, who he senses is his equal in wit and cleverness. 

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

Willmore is a male character that exemplifies not only male chauvinism, but also the male sex drive. In this, even his name is significant. He “wills more,” regardless of how many he has had.

Willmore’s focus is on the amount of conquests that he can achieve in his lifetime. As such, his greatest victory might be assumed to be the heart of Hellena, who is about to join a convent.

The reader gets the sense that Willmore does not so much care for the hearts of his female conquests than he does for the amount of hearts he can conquer. In this, he is the stereotype of the male sex drive, which focuses only on number of conquests without any emotion.

He also clearly does not consider any of this as morally reprehensible, as today’s reader might. Instead, the reward of his effort is the ultimate prize of Hellena’s heart.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial