Aphra Behn presents several views of different male-female relationships and makes certain statements regarding these different types and the different ways in which the males and females relate to one another. Three different types of male-female bond are examined. These three are those dominated by love and lust, those controlled by money, and those in which the male is the dominant force. These three bonds will be examined individually, which will be followed by an analysis of the three marriages at the end of the play in relation to these three types. The action of the first act opens with a discussion between Florinda and Hellena on the topic of love. Hellena, attempting to discern which man has stolen Florinda’s heart, mentions Vincentio, saying “Or perhaps the rich old don Vincentio, whom my father designs you for a husband?” (I.
i. 18-9) To this, Florinda immediately clarifies that she holds no affection for don Vincentio, saying that she will not follow this order, and that she knows better than to “obey those unjust commands.” (I. i. 24-5) The type of relationship her father wishes for her is the male-dominated relationship. She is being asked by one male to marry another, both of which presume to know her best interests, with no indication of any love.
This is also seen in Pedro’s urging that she marry Antonio. Florinda states, in regards to arranged marriage, “I would not have a man so dear to me as my brother follow the ill customs of our country and make a slave of his sister.” (I. i. 66-8) This proposed marriage is simply the result of a society in which the male-dominated bond prevails overwhelmingly over bonds in which love or other emotion plays a role.
Marriage Marriage is one of the universal social institutions established to control and regulate the life of mankind. It is closely associated with the institution of family. In fact both the institutions are complementary to each other. It is an institution with different implications in different cultures. Its purposes, functions and forms may differ from society to society but it is present ...
This bond is one in which emotion has no place, and the female is largely disregarded. While this type of bond is one of the first mentioned in the play, Aphra Behn does not develop this beyond what we hear people say about it. Vincentio is not presented as a realistic competitor for Florinda’s hand during the action of the play. Perhaps this is because his intentions are cut and dry, and including him further would not add much to the play.
The action of the play is driven by emotion, and Vincentio would not bring this to the play because there is no emotional bond between he and Florinda. By largely ignoring this type of marriage, Behn is dismissing it as less important and less interesting than the other two. The problem with this type of relationship is identified early on by Florinda’s refusal to consider arranged marriage, and is eliminated from the action of the play. The second model of a male-female relationship is that which is dominated by lust, love, and emotion. This is the type of relationship that is seen between Florinda and Belville, Willmore and Hellena, and at one point, Willmore and Angelica. These relationships account for the bulk of what happens in the play, since love and emotion drive the characters to act in entertaining ways.
There can be no mistaking that the love between Belville and Florinda is real. Belville is clear that this love is pure, declaring the power her persona has over him by saying “I have int ” rest enough in that lovely virgin’s heart to make me proud and vain… .” (I. ii. 21-2) Florinda makes her love apparent through her actions, taking risks to give Belville letters and to rendezvous with him in the garden.
Belville exhibits his interest in Florinda through his elation upon receiving her letter, and through becoming irate with Willmore for his attempted rape in the garden. The connection between Belville and Florinda does not waver or weaken through the action of the play, and when the two are finally united in marriage, their love is complete. Willmore’s relations with women are motivated less by true love and more by lust. He makes his intentions clear upon his arrival, proclaiming “Love and mirth are my business in Naples, and if I mistake not the place, here’s an excellent market for chapmen of my humor.” (I. ii. 76-8) Willmore has come ashore to enjoy himself, and at first seems like his goal is fornication.
You- I find myself sitting here wondering why... Why am I so lost? Why do you not know what you want? Why do I still care? And most of all, Why I can't I stop loving you? I sit here drying my pink puffy eyes. Trying to get you out of my head but everything is a constant reminder like a broken record, over and over again. I try to pretend it doesn't get to me while, secretly, I beat my self up ...
While he later develops emotions which he calls love, the nature of this may be doubted because he tells two women that he loves them, lying to each about the other. He claims to care greatly for both, but this must not be taken for true love. While it is possible to lust for many women simultaneously, it is not possible to love more than one. While Willmore ultimately dedicates himself to Hellena, it is still possible that his love is simply extended lust. Willmore’s relations with women fall into this category of emotion-dominated bonds as well, because he is driven by lust and emotion. This type of relationship is the most natural; the relationships between Florinda and Belville and Willmore and Hellena are more likely to succeed than would the proposed marriages mentioned in the first act.
Behn clearly feels that emotion-dominated bonds are the most important and deserve the most attention.