Man-made monsters, men made monstrous: conformity and deformity in Aphra Behn's The Second Part of The Rover

The Second Part of the Rover was performed in late 1680 or early 1681. Like its more successful predecessor, Behn's The Rover (1677), it draws upon Thomas Killigrew's ten act Thomaso, but adapts and changes this source material in significant ways.  The main plot revolves around the rake hero Willmore, his friend Beaumond, and their relationships with La Nuche (a courtesan) and Ariadne (a 'woman of quality'). The sub-plot grotesquely mirrors the main plot, as two 'monstrous' female characters, a dwarf and giantess, are pursued by competing male characters.  Behn awards the traditional comedic ending to the sub-plot, whilst the main plot ends with a non-marriage between Willmore and La Nuche, and a compromise marriage between Beaumond and Ariadne.  This paper will explore the ways in which the play challenges the notion of the female body as territory to be delineated, defined and ultimately competed for by the male subject.

Stephanie Hodgson-Wright
Author affiliation
School of English, Cheltenham & Gloucester CHE, UK