Aphra Behn: the Comedies (Analysing Texts) by Kate Aughterson

By Kate Aughterson

Aphra Behn: The Comedies presents scholars with an approachable and engaging research of Behn's dramaturgical talents, displaying relatively how she makes use of comedian and dramatic conventions to radical ends. Kate Aughterson indicates how the playwright forces her viewers to interact with matters approximately gender and sexuality, when carrying on with to write down witty and obtainable performs.

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Example text

Galliard ] leads [Cornelia] to Morosini, [who] holds his cane up at her. Morosini. Why, thou baggage, thou wicked contriver of mischief, what excuse hadst thou for running away? Thou hadst no lover. Cornelia. ’Twas therefore, sir, I went, to find one; and if I am not mistaken in the mark, ’tis this cavalier I pitch upon for that use and purpose. Galliard. Gad, I thank ye for that; I hope you’ll ask my leave first; I’m finely drawn in, i’faith! Have I been dreaming all this night of the possession of a new-gotten mistress, to wake and find myself noosed to a dull wife in the morning?

We are thereby linked to a cosmopolitan Europeanism against what is represented as a reductive, stupid, and hypocritical puritanism. This creates a feel-good factor in the audience (we are as sophisticated and witty as these gallants), and simultaneously satirises English puritanism. Yet despite this distancing of these two characters through laughter, Behn ensures that parallels are made between their behaviour and attitudes and those of the gallants. Throughout the play, scenes with these two buffoons are interleaved with those of Galliard, Fillamour and Julio, and both sets of men follow explicitly parallel paths of desire and seduction in their pursuit of ‘La Silvianetta’.

The final metaphoric image is of marriage as perilous, storm driven and beset with danger (‘ventures’). An ostensibly happy and conventional comic ending is shadowed by Willmore’s metaphors, echoing the other loose ends and discomfort in the first two parts of this extract. Endings 39 Let us now move on to The Feigned Courtesans, and see whether such complexity is typical of Behn’s other comic endings. * * * [Act 5, scene iv] Marcella. In this disguise we parted from Viterbo, attended only by Petro and Philippa; at Rome we took the title and habit of two courtesans; both to shelter us from knowledge, and to oblige Fillamour to visit us, which we believed he would in curiosity, and yesterday it so fell out as we desired.

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