Aphra Behn's "The Widow Ranter", similarities and parallels between the events and characters of the play and those of the English Civil War

1961 WordsMar 25, 20078 Pages
Upon reading Aphra Behn's, "The Widow Ranter", it is impossible not to notice the similarities and parallels between the events and characters of the play and those of the English Civil War. These similarities may at first appear to be mere coincidences, it is true that may civil wars are innately comparable to each other; however it is not the case of The Widow Ranter. In The Widow Ranter, Behn artfully constructs and construes a story which carries a message. In order to clarify and justify Behn's intentions, it is important to first review and relate the events and characters of The Widow Ranter in comparison to those of the English Civil War. The primary characters of interest are Bacon, the Jamestown Counsel, and the Indians/ Indian…show more content…
The next parallel of characters which Behn suggests is between the Counsel [of Jamestown] and the Long Parliament of the English Civil War, both of which are subject to mutiny and coercion [by Bacon or Cromwell's Army, respectively]. Both of these legal assemblies are in the highest government position of power as a result of/ due to the absence of a higher singular authority, whether it be the Governor or the King. They consist of an array of members who vary in quality of character as well as allegiance, to each other as well as the state, and consequently suffer from a lack of unity. In Parliament this dissonance is evident by their inability to agree to take decisive action against King Charles I; while some members demand his execution, others maintain that he can still be negotiated with, despite failure thus far to reach an agreement. Similarly, The Jamestown Counsel continually debate over whether to support, arrest, or kill Bacon for his actions. The Counsel, like the Long Parliament, expresses a preference to negotiate [peace] with the Indians/ Indian King, but is forced to allow Bacon to pursue his actions against the Indians, and subsequent murder of the Indian King. Additionally, the Counsel and Parliament are also similar in that they both are apprehensive of the power Bacon/ Cromwell possess as popular leaders of troops comprised primarily of common (non-nobility) people, and

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