Student Question

What is the significance of The Rover's opening scene?

Quick answer:

The opening scene of The Rover is significant because it challenges traditional gender roles by featuring women openly discussing love and sex, a shocking departure from societal norms of the time. Additionally, the play critiques the social and legal limitations that made women vulnerable to abuse and moral corruption, questioning the patterns of marriage and courtship that commodified women.

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Behn was vehement in his concern that Renaissance women, as a result of social and legal limitations, were vunerable to both abuse and moral corruption.  The play challenges the patterns of marriage and courtship that put women on an auction block to the highest bidder, as well as challenging the limitations of a women's opportunities for employment.

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The opening scenes were a shocking departure from the usual women's roles. The play was modeled after Killigrew's Thomaso. However, in the opening scenes, two women are openly discussing love and sex. This was a shocking gender crossing. It would not have been unusual for men to be discussing such a subject, but the freedom and liberty of women  discussing such lusty subjects made it unique. The king of the time, CharlesII, even requested his own audience to see it.

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