Aphra Behn – The Character of Hellena in The Rover

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The character of Hellena in Aphra Behn’s The Rover could possibly be described as outspoken, witty, and rebellious. This text will concentrate on Hellena’s rebellious nature and discover the deeper meanings of it. We discover Hellena rebelling in opposition to her brother Pedro’s needs to ship her to a nunnery, in opposition to the standard system of honor anticipated of seventeenth century girls, and in opposition to the standard roles of females in society. These three areas might be studied in depth to disclose the explanations for, and the outcomes of, Hellena’s rebellious nature.

Hellena’s character is ready forth virtually instantly within the play when she says to Florinda, “Now cling me, if I do not love thee for that pricey disobedience. I like mischief unusually…”. The Rover creates an image of a society dominated by males, and Hellena is clearly not a lady who desires to be managed.

Within the first scene, we uncover that the futures of Hellena and Florinda have already been decided by their father, and their brother Pedro plans to hold out his needs. Florinda humbly submits to her brother: “Sir, I shall try to do as shall turn into your sister”. However the outspoken Hellena overtly rebels within the face of her sister’s obedience: “As turns into his sister! That’s to be as resolved your means as he’s his”. On this means, Florinda is a foil to Hellena as a result of she is portrayed because the “very best” subservient lady whereas Hellena is way more of a free spirit. Presumably, considered one of Hellena’s chief considerations as a potential nun must be chastity, however she is way more involved with expressing her sexual needs. Pedro scolds Hellena by remarking that she is “not designed for the dialog of lovers”. Nevertheless, it’s Hellena’s dialog with Pedro that sheds gentle on Florinda’s need to marry Belvile. On this means, Florinda can be a parallel to Hellena as a result of they’re each being compelled, by males, to suppress their needs. Hellena’s rise up in opposition to her brother and in opposition to the convent is clearly a stance in opposition to being managed by males.

This brings us to our second level relating to Hellena’s rise up in opposition to the standard system of honor anticipated from the ladies of her time. Whereas that is intently tied to the primary space we explored, it has particular qualities that have to be examined.

The perfect seventeenth century lady was one who ate little or no, fainted simply and infrequently, and blushed every time she was checked out. Her code of honor was primarily influenced by her obligation to obey males and to stay chaste. This code is turned on its ear early by Hellena and is exemplified when she and Willmore meet for the primary time. We uncover that neither is trying to find a everlasting relationship — they’re simply trying to “get it on”. As soon as once more, we see Florinda serving as a foil to Hellena. Whereas Florinda has been portrayed as a virtuous maid, this stands in stark distinction to the frank sexuality of Hellena.

Hellena additionally breaks the code of honor by relying closely on deception, particularly, by disguising herself as a person. Deception is concerned all through the play and Hellena’s disguise is a way of hiding her identification and, thus, liberating her from the restrictions positioned on it by a patriarchal society. The perfect lady of this era will surely by no means break her code of honor by defying the authority of a male, however Hellena not solely breaks the code, she proves to be an equal wit to essentially the most outspoken man within the play — Willmore.

The third level regards the standard function of females. This level encompasses the primary two that now we have checked out, however it additionally serves to place an exclamation level on one of many fundamental themes of the play. With the rise up of Hellena, Behn is resisting the double customary utilized to girls in addition to the idealization of what a “correct” lady must be.

A great place to start out can be to level out that Angelica Bianca is launched as a second foil to Hellena. This can be tough to see at first as a result of, as a prostitute, Angelica definitely falls exterior the rules of a great or a correct lady. However on nearer examination, the distinction will come to gentle.

Angelica has vowed that “nothing however gold shall allure my coronary heart”. In declaring this, she has suppressed her pure needs as a way to market herself as a prostitute. Romantic love, within the conventional sense, shouldn’t be a chance for a lady whose identification is outlined and devalued as a prostitute. For this reason she should try and solid apart the identification imposed on her when she begins to fall in love with Willmore. So long as she is locked into the stigma that goes together with prostitution, she’s going to by no means be capable to pursue her “pure” needs. Likewise, Florinda’s pure needs are additionally held captive by her idealized maidenhood. By exhibiting the boundaries on self-expression and sexuality within the feminine identities, the “unnaturalness” of those roles are revealed, whether or not or not it’s nun, maid, or prostitute.

When Hellena steps out of the standard feminine stereotype of her day, her distinction with the opposite two girls involves fruition. As an alternative of being jealous of discovering Willmore with one other lady, Hellena teaches him a lesson by matching him in wit and beating him at his personal sport. On this means, she stands in direct opposition with Angelica who, due to her jealousy, threatens Willmore’s life. Angelica has bodily magnificence, however Hellena has that plus wit and humor to match Willmore’s.

In conclusion, now we have examined how Hellena rebels in opposition to her brother and the nunnery as a way to keep away from being managed. We’ve got additionally seen how her rise up in opposition to the standard honor anticipated from girls of her period not solely liberates her from restrictions, however in the end wins her the title character himself. And eventually, now we have explored how her rise up in opposition to conventional feminine roles locations her in distinction with the opposite girls and yields a constructive consequence. As the feminine characters push on the boundaries of identification allotted to them, we come to see {that a} lady’s nature shouldn’t be contained inside a label, whether or not or not it’s nun, prostitute, or maid. Nevertheless, Behn does present that dwelling “fortunately ever after” in a patriarchal society shouldn’t be a simple job, and it’s only Hellena’s braveness to insurgent that makes it doable.

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