“Restoration Comedy” – English Play of 17-18th Centuries Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Apr 17th, 2019

This play is a comedy that seeks to show the author’s opposition to susceptibility of women in the Restoration society. This play seeks to show how the female characters play prominent roles. Further, it portrays them as strong and independent.

The play extensively focuses on three women Hellena, Florinda, and Angelica. The fates of nunnery, marriage, and well-paid prostitution bind these women respectively. Further, this play shows how the women’s determination and strong will help them escape from their fates (Sneider and Douglas 7).

This play outlines the standard treatment of women by men. It emphasizes that men treat women according to the way the women behave. If a woman has character and position, she commands dignity and respect from men. Conversely, if a woman lacks character men treat her with less respect and dignity.

This play portrays Hellana as a quality woman masquerading as a courtesan and Florinda as a philanderer who only stops this behavior when Belvile falls in love with her. The sisters, Hellena and Florinda discuss on how to explore their love. Hellena the younger sister wants to discover love before her brother Don Pedro sends her off to the convent.

On the other hand, Florinda the elder sister wants to marry the man she loves rather than the man her brother and father choose. The two women decide to explore their independence. The women want to do this before their planned futures choke their independence.

The two decide to go to a carnival dressed as gypsies where they meet three English nobles, Belvile, Blunt, Fredrick, and a sailor, Willmore. The sisters change the men’s choices using their disguises. In addition, the play focuses on Angelica a Courtesan new in Naples who is also at the carnival. Different men pursue Angelica for courtesan services, but Angelica chooses Willmore (Behn and Russell 10).

Encounters at the carnival trigger conflicts between the men prompting them to engage in fights over the women. At the end, women are free from their fates. Willmore agrees to marry Hellena and the two get Don Pedro’s approval for the marriage. Florinda marries the man of her choice, Belvile while Angelica sets Willmore free and leaves.

The second scene of the second act takes place in Angelica’s bedchambers. Willmore removes angelica’s Portrait from the wall. Angellica wants to know why He had removed the portrait. Willmore argues out that the portrait was there to tempt him and justifies why he had to take it down. In spite of Willmore awareness of Angelica’s high price, he tries to convince her to sleep with him free.

He says that he will join forces and finances with the other merchants to gain time with angelica. Willmore says that he repulses the idea of individuals’ selling their bodies. In addition, he says that his passion for Angelica’s divine powers allows him to pay for the services. Angelica ignores Morettas advice not to listen to Willmore. Angelica agrees to Willmore’s demands claiming she has fallen in love with him.

This scene is significant to this play in theme development. It contains many aspects that help to create themes for the entire play. Themes that come include prostitution, courtship, love, exploitation, among other themes.

The author brings out the theme of prostitution in this scene. Willmore points out that he repulses the idea of Angelica selling her body. In addition, he goes one to show his commitment in joining forces with other merchants so he can afford to enjoy time with Angelica.

Evidently, the theme of love and courtship come out in this scene. Angelica agrees to Willmore’s demand of sleeping with him for free claiming she has fallen in love with him. Willmore shows intentions of courtship when he says that he wants to have Angelica forever.

In addition, the author develops the theme of exploitation in this play. Willmore brings this out when he tries to exploit Angelica. Despite of him knowing that Angelica is a courtesan, he wants Angelica to offer him free services.

The author brings out the role of each character well. He portrays Angelica as a woman who is independent and strong. Angelica plays the prominent role of being a courtesan. Despite of this, she goes on to show her independence by doing as she pleases. She agrees to sleep with Willmore for free as she is in love with him. Further, the author portrays Willmore as a man who exploits women as he does with angelica.

Therefore, this scene helps the author to develop the main plot of this play. She brings out the female characters as strong and independent and gives them prominent roles. Further, the author shows the society their actions and the extent to which those actions put women in compromising situations forcing them to disregard the society rules.

This leads women to lose status and position. The author’s view on position of women shows double standard of liberation in both public and legal spheres. The author manages to influence viewers to evaluate women’s roles in this new age by mocking and exposing constraints imposed on women in the restoration society.

Works Cited

Behn, Aphra and Anne Russell. The Rover, 2nd ed. Ontario: Broadview Press, 1999. Print.

Sneider, Maja-Lisan and Douglas Canfield. The Broadview Anthology of Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century Drama. Ontario: Broadview Press, 2001. Print.




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