The Rover

Interesting Videos

Violence and Threat; Power and Politics

  1. This play stages the threat of rape repeatedly, and in doing so, it encourages us to wrestle with Behn's goals. Why does it seem to be okay for the Cavaliers to abuse “common” women, but not women of “Quality”? How do people seem to distinguish between “common” women and women of “Quality”? What is the difference between “Rape” and “ruffl[ing] a Harlot” (IV.iii.225-6)?
  2. What is the relationship, in The Rover, between marriage and prostitution? Find several representative moments in the text that will help us answer this question in discussion.
  3. Some important motifs in this play revolve around value, cost, price, interest, merchants, markets, exchange, and business. Note representative places in the text where these images come into play, and consider how they help us understand the dynamics of power and gender.
  4. Consider how this play understands its timeliness. Who is the titular “Rover”? What does “Cavaliering” mean? Who and what are Cavaliers?
  5. In tandem with the question above, consider the themes developing throughout the play of displacement, confusion, and loss of bearings. How do these themes relate to the historical and cultural context of the Restoration?
  6. Are we supposed to read Angelica as a powerful character? Why or why not? What is the nature of her power, if indeed you see her as a powerful character?
  7. Who marries whom at the end of the play? Does anything surprise you in this resolution?

Masquing and Misrecognition

  1. Where does The Rover take place? When? Why do you think Behn chose this setting? What does the setting provide for the Rovers in the play?
  2. This is a play replete with masquerades, disguises, misrecognitions, and tricks. What kinds of disguises occur throughout the play? Who is misrecognized as whom, and why? What tricks are played on whom? Why do you think there is there so much emphasis on this thematic element?

Self-Fashioning and Self-Representation

  1. Consider Angelica's conversation with Moretta in IV.ii. Why does she speak in verse here, and not elsewhere? What is the function of verse for her at that moment? Behn is very conscious of the power of conversational skill in The Rover; what other characters draw attention to their conversational skills, and why? What does Behn seem to be suggesting about language as a form of self-representation?
  2. Consider the extent to which women in this play can or cannot control their lives. What does each do to ameliorate this situation of powerlessness?
  3. Many critics have discussed the "sign of Angelica" as a symbol in the play. What do you think it symbolizes? Try to find evidence in the text to support your thoughts.
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