Using the Plays “Much Ado About Nothing” and “the Rover”, Discuss and Compare Each Play’s Treatment of Women.
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Using the plays “Much Ado About Nothing” and “The Rover”, discuss and compare each play’s treatment of women.
The Renaissance comedy, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, written by Shakespeare in 1600 during the Elizabethan era, addresses male inconstancy and female persecution; how women are controlled by the prevailing patriarchal system. Hero, the conventional heroine, is a ‘shrinking violet’, who suffers character assassination through male actions. ‘The Rover’, written in 1677 for the Restoration society of Charles II where men were hedonistic, uncommitted and brimming with bravado, also explores gender conflicts. However playwright, Aphra Behn, in this Restoration comedy, critically comments on male attitudes, and - through female rebellion…show more content… Hypocritically he assumes the role of victim, accusing her of leaving a “cob-web door to catch flies”. However Behn offers the audience a scintilla of justification from this attempted rape, Wilmore blaming the “cursed sack” he has drunken which might excuse him from the Restoration crowd, if not later audiences.
Worse is to come in 4/2 when the masked Florinda hides in Blunt’s lodgings from her brother. While Wilmore is afforded drunken stupor as an excuse, Blunt’s actions are motivated by misogynistic revenge. Blunt’s hatred for Lucetta the prostitute turns Florinda into an opportunity to “wreak his righteous revenge on womankind”. Frederick’s involvement also implicates the cavaliers’ behaviour as he joins Blunt. Even Belvile’s honourable status is doubted, Frederick referring to him as “a cormorant at whore and bacon”. It is unsurprising that 18th century productions censored Blunt’s most vicious imagery to protect public tastes. The atmosphere becomes graver still as Florinda’s brother ironically wins the ‘lottery’ using the length of their swords; an explicit phallic connotation, to take Florinda first.
Even the Restoration audience recognises Behn challenging male hypocrisies, by creating a situation where the patriarchal protector himself is responsible for the loss of female virtue. The swiftness with which Florinda accepts their apologies “I heartily forgive you all” provides the males, especially Blunt, with undeserving