“Masquerading! A obscene usage to corrupt our young person. There’s something more in this than I imagine. ” – Don Pedro
Aphra Behn. the first female dramatist to gain a life through her authorship. was besides one of the wittiest and entertaining every bit evidenced through her most good known drama. The Rover. Set in seventeenth century Italy while under the colonial reign of Spain. a big dramatis personae of characters becomes embroiled in scenes of unfaithfulness. seduction. deceit. and luxuriant swordplay. which create tenseness and confusion in add-on to many comedic episodes. The scene is Carnival clip in Venice. which is of import to the secret plan for several grounds: the erosion of masks ( as was customary ) allows a freedom from normal restraints. there is frequently in the drama a error made in individualities. fortunes can ( and do ) happen which could ne’er otherwise happen. it allows for a fast gait to be maintained which keeps the witnesss involved. and finally. “confusion captures the spirit of the carnival” ( 1 ) .
During carnival times category barriers came down with the rich mingling with the hapless. The tradition of have oning masks at carnival clip became necessary in order to protect the individualities of the rich ( 2 ) . This besides gave chances to move out in a mode far removed from their accustomed 1. By holding her female characters hidden behind masks. Behn is able to take them from their traditional functions as adult females and give them empowerment. In consequence. they can presume new personalities and take their suppressions or the otherwise usual yokes that have been cast on them by a male-dominated society.
Hellena is the perfect illustration of one throwing off suppressions and uncovering her inner ego behind the pretense of a mask. Slated for the convent in an attempt by her male parent to consolidate the household fundss. she decides that this carnival will be the clip she finds a adult male – and she sets her sights on one as dare and quick-witted as herself. She is able to track him in different camouflages and at one point sets out to “vex” him for his maintaining with Angellica. She shows herself to be a strong. independent-thinking adult female in an age when adult females had few personal rights. The carnival scene is the vehicle that gives her the freedom to act in the mode she does.
The carnival scene is besides the cause of misguided individualities. Because of this confusion Behn is able to foster the comedic and suspense elements. For illustration. Don Pedro is denied his chance with the lovely Angellica when his friend ( and his intended brother-in-law ) Don Antonio pays his offering to be with her. Don Pedro is further incensed by the fact that this is a rebuff against his sister. Florinda. which finally leads to the scene of a clip and topographic point for a affaire d’honneur. Of class. Don Antonio believes he is facing Belvile from his verbal exchange with Don Pedro. Ironically. when Belvile comes to the assistance of Don Antonio subsequently. he is charged with really making the offense of wounding him.
Unwittingly. Don Antonio presses Belvile into contending for him against Don Pedro for the award of Florinda. Belvile’s love! This is one of many cases when the characters end up in entertaining state of affairss due to misidentify individuality. The errors made by the characters frequently mistaking each other has an added consequence of the audience holding to pay particularly close attending themselves to how the secret plan develops.
Since all of the action occurs during Carnival ( particularly Venetian ) . the audience of course expects some sort of confusion and mayhem to happen. This helter-skelter environment keeps the gait quickened doing the carnival puting a natural pick for a Swift paced drama. Traditionally. carnivals of this sort “would take topographic point in the assorted Venetian plaza and would affect repasts of imported daintinesss. dance and amusement by jugglers. acrobats. etc. every bit good a efforts of strength or dare. performed by immature work forces. and normally ensuing in being plunged into the stop deading Waterss of the canal. ” ( 2 ) . With the goings-on throughout the metropolis during Carnival. the drama ( as the witnesss expect ) would of course exhibit the same unprompted ambiance of merriment and celerity of motion that occur during carnivals.
The drama is besides doing a forward statement for its clip and can because of the peculiar nature of the carnival. Through Hellena. Behn is talking for women’s equality. Hellena while disguised is as brave and vocal as any adult male of the period. She is able to move as work forces do – taking a mate as one would livestock. Another mute averment Behn makes is of the intervention of adult females who were non privileged. Repeated efforts at ravishing Florinda because the work forces thought she was of a lower station don’t put work forces in a good visible radiation.
The attitudes of these work forces are that this is recognized pattern and tolerated in seventeenth century society. Undeniably. it would look as if they saw it as their right. Finally. while most work forces would look at Willmore’s high-handed attitude and behaviour with what one might name fear ( who wouldn’t want to be a daredevil? ) . his prevarication. craftiness. and philandering ways are non qualities that cause one to reflect. These things along with the women’s sexual audacity would do this drama to be denigrated in the following epoch.
In decision. Behn’s pick to put the action of the drama in Venice during a carnival was appropriate to the subject. Indeed. one could reason that without the carnival as a background. Behn could non hold as efficaciously pulled off the character’s relationships and the myriad encounters about every bit good. The characters actions speak as much if non more than their words do and the velocity of the drama is determined by these actions. This could merely hold been achieved by the confusion and spontaneousness inherent in the nature of carnivals. Therefore. the importance of Carnival in Aphra Behn’s The Rover was paramount to the success of the drama.