The morning of the duel, Florinda enters the Molo with Callis and Stephano to see Don Pedro fight; the two women are disguised. Florinda is terrified because Belvile has not come to meet her. She begs Stephano to tell her whom her brother fights, but the servant knows only that the duel is about Florinda. She is dismayed, believing that her brother is going to fight Belvile; the only other man who loves her is Antonio, and she believes that he and Pedro’s friendship is too strong for them to duel.
The idea of men dueling over a woman is, by now, a familiar one within the play. Florinda, meanwhile, faces a moral crisis: whether to pray for her brother or her lover, whom she fears may kill each other. Her grief and upset are a direct consequence of the male embrace of violence within the play and the social position of women as both constrained by and dependent on the men in their lives.
Stephano takes his leave of Florinda, because he sees Don Pedro coming; he tells her that Pedro is still suspicious about the events of last night, and she promises to reward the servant for his loyalty to her.
Even though Pedro is engaging in a duel, he still acts morally upright and strict towards his sisters; his hypocrisy persists.
Don Pedro enters, masked, and remarks that Antonio is late. Florinda is surprised to hear Antonio’s name, as Pedro jealously imagines his former friend in the arms of Angelica.
Although Pedro claims to be fighting for Florinda, he is thinking only of Angelica; Florinda, meanwhile, is even more confused about whom her brother is fighting.
Belvile enters dressed as Antonio; Florinda is relieved, believing that her beloved is not fighting the duel. He greets Pedro (though he still does not know the identity of his opponent), who bitterly accuses him of finding favor with Angelica. Belvile is shocked that Antonio would be fighting for Angelica—a “common Prize”—rather than Florinda, but prepares to duel anyway.
Now it is Florinda’s turn not to recognize Belvile, as she believes him to be Antonio. Belvile, finding that Pedro too is obsessed with Angelica, still finds it incomprehensible that these Spanish noblemen would be fighting over the affections of a common courtesan. There is perhaps an idea in the play that part of Angelica’s lure, beyond her beauty, is the fact that her “price” is so high. In a way, by linking herself to a high price Angelica has made herself less attainable, thus making herself more “marketable” and desirable. A true nobleman like Belvile wouldn’t be very aware of such things, as his values are not as driven by money.
Florinda runs into the duel, begging the two men to stop. Pedro refuses, and the two fight, until Belvile disarms Pedro. At this, a masked Florinda intercedes once again, attempting to save her brother. Belvile refuses, yet again not recognizing her. When she finally begs him in the name of his beloved, he stops, and lays his sword at her feet.
The confusion of identity continues, since Belvile does not know that he is speaking to Florinda. Even the mention of her name, however, is strong enough to force him to put down his sword, therefore rendering him defenseless against his enemy.
Don Pedro, impressed, believes that Antonio (in fact Belvile) has proved his love for Florinda. At the mention of her name, Belvile takes up his sword again, saying that he will fight for that truth until the death.
Now it is Pedro’s turn to be fooled by a disguise, as Belvile demonstrates that even he, a calm and honorable man, is all too quick to fight over a woman whom he desires.
Don Pedro congratulates Belvile (still thinking him to be Antonio) on regaining Florinda’s hand, and his own friendship. At last recognizing Florinda, Belvile swears to Pedro that he will remain faithful to his sister for the rest of his life, begging to make her his this very moment. Pedro agrees, since his father (who wishes for Florinda to marry Don Vincentio) will be returning that evening.
For a moment, it looks like Belvile’s deceit will work in his favor, as Don Pedro offers him Florinda’s hand. Although ordinarily a son going against his father would be impossible, Pedro believes that he can marry Florinda to Antonio (rather than Vincentio) because it is Carnival time.
Dismayed at having to marry the man she still thinks is Don Antonio, Florinda protests. Belvile draws her aside, and reveals his identity to her as Callis distracts Don Pedro. She expresses surprise that she did not know him from his voice alone.
The disguise fools Florinda too, until Belvile reveals himself. Even this decision, however will soon have consequences; the lovers cannot reunite just yet.
At just the wrong moment, Willmore and Frederick enter, looking for Belvile. Willmore is dressed in fine clothes that he has bought with Angelica’s money. Seeing their companion, the ever-indiscreet Willmore runs to embrace him, calling his name. Don Pedro, realizing his mistake, attempts to take Florinda back; at this, Belvile draws his sword to protect her, as does Willmore. Belvile scornfully tells Willmore to put up his sword, since any quarrel in which he takes part will end badly; Willmore does so, his pride hurt.
Willmore is an agent of chaos wherever he goes, while Don Pedro again displays his disregard for his sister’s feelings. Belvile, meanwhile, again reacts with violence, although the tension between the two Englishmen (formerly best friends) has become even more apparent and problematic.
Belvile, out of love for Florinda, refuses to hurt Don Pedro, who says that although the cavalier won Florinda by Antonio’s sword, he fought bravely. Still, he refuses to give his sister to Belvile, and exits with her, accusing her of plotting against him.
Honorable to the core, Belvile would never harm a relative of Florinda’s. By contrast, the hypocritical Don Pedro will not give Florinda to the cavalier because of his poverty and despite his obvious display of bravery and nobility.
Yet again enraged against Willmore, Belvile paces back and forth; Willmore knows that he has done something wrong, but does not know what. Incensed, Belvile draws his sword on his friend; Willmore runs out, with Belvile following him. Frederick tries to intervene, and fails.
As the play grows more and more chaotic, the Englishmen begin fighting against themselves. Behn again demonstrates how quick men are to jump to violence when they become angry and upset.
Angelica enters with Moretta and Sebastian, demanding to know if Willmore has just left. Frederick reveals that he has, but says that he is in danger, and quickly follows his friends offstage, with Sebastian following him. After they both are gone, Angelica reveals that she knows Hellena’s identity as Don Pedro’s sister, and believes Willmore to be in love with the noblewoman. She curses his unfaithfulness—he has not only left her, but has taken five hundred crowns from her—as Moretta scolds her for having placed her trust in a man.
All of Angelica’s nightmares have come true: she is at the mercy of a man, and he has taken advantage of her. Despite her beauty (and probable sexual skill), the intelligent courtesan knows that she does not stand a chance against a wealthy noblewoman like Hellena. As much wealth as Angelica has built up, she will both never be as wealthy nor as alluring as a noble will be In Angelica’s mind, love is as dangerous and harmful as she originally feared.
Sebastian reenters with Willmore, and Angelica turns away from him. Willmore asks why she flees when he pursues her and pursues when he flees, before singing to her. She responds scornfully, telling him that she knows he is false, and vowing to be revenged. The Englishman asserts that he is not a timid lover, and that he despises her sullenness. Angelica, in turn, says she does not care what he feels, since he has found a mistress more virtuous than she. Willmore responds that he does not desire a virtuous woman.
As always, Willmore does not believe that he has done anything wrong. Even though he cares about Angelica, he does not believe that he owes her anything, and refuses to believe that he has sinned by being unfaithful to her. This attitude is yet another example of his utter lack of morals.
Angelica remains furious, accusing Willmore of courting Hellena for her two hundred thousand-crown fortune, and revealing that she saw him flirting with the noblewoman the night before. Willmore is amazed that his gypsy girl is worth so much, and secretly hopes that Angelica will be angry enough to tell him to leave her, so that he can return to Hellena.
The realization that Hellena has a fortune has an instant effect on Willmore: although before he was dismayed that she was noble because of her virtue, now he is overjoyed because of her wealth. For the cavalier, love, lust, and money are all intertwined.
Hellena herself enters, disguised as a boy. She recognizes both Angelica and Willmore; Moretta notices her, and, hoping that she is a page for Don Antonio, points her out to Angelica.
To add to the confusion, Hellena now enters dressed as a boy; she is so unconventional that she has now begun to blur the lines between genders.
Angelica refuses to speak to Willmore, who offers to leave. Meanwhile Hellena approaches, anxious to torment Willmore for his faithlessness. Secretly, Willmore plots to escape Angelica so that he can keep his meeting with Hellena; he claims to have a friend who is sick, but Angelica orders him to stay.
Although Willmore is a master of deception, he is now unknowingly caught between two women whom he has wronged; a dangerous position for the immoral rake.
Hellena goes to speak to Angelica as Willmore repeatedly attempts to sneak off. The disguised girl tells the courtesan that she is a relation of a young noblewoman who has fallen in love with a charming, witty Englishman because of his eloquence; Willmore believes that she is speaking about him, as does Angelica. She now orders Willmore to go, but he now refuses, anxious to hear more.
Hellena, like Willmore, embraces subterfuge, and further confuses matters by making up an imaginary noblewoman who is in love with Willmore. Unsure whom she speaks of, Willmore’s large ego causes him to assume that yet another highborn lady is in love with him.
Continuing on, Hellena relates how the Englishman jilted this noblewoman at the altar. Willmore now believes that she either speaks of a woman who is in love with him, or a woman he can seduce; he is confused, however, about the mention of marriage. Angelica bitterly notices Willmore’s excitement.
Willmore cannot help himself; despite caring for both Angelica and Hellena, he is always interested in the novelty of an unknown woman—a fact lost on neither the noblewoman nor the courtesan.
Perceiving the hurt in Angelica’s eyes, Hellena offers to stop her tale, but Angelica, hoping to quench her own love for Willmore, begs the disguised Hellena to continue. She does so, pleading with Angelica to stop seeing Willmore, who secretly rejoices (because he hopes to leave Angelica for the wealthy Hellena).
Although Angelica is Hellena’s romantic rival, the intelligent girl feels pity and empathy for the jilted prostitute. Willmore, meanwhile, seems completely unconcerned about how deeply he has hurt Angelica.
Consumed with jealousy, Angelica asks if Willmore is the man of whom Hellena speaks. He attempts to defend himself and paces around the stage; the two women follow him, both cursing his falseness and faithlessness. The cavalier remains silent, and Angelica asserts that guilt has stopped his tongue before turning away to weep.
For once, Willmore is not able to talk himself out of a difficult situation, and both he and the audience must listen to the berating of the angry women. For a moment, Angelica and Hellena are pitted against their faithless lover rather than against each other.
With Angelica distracted, Willmore asks Hellena who her supposed mistress is, and how he can find her house. Hellena is amazed by his promiscuity. Angelica turns back around, and Willmore assures her that he is not the man in Hellena’s story. Angelica bitterly says that the tale is true, but that the charming Willmore could easily persuade the boy to say otherwise; she storms away once more, and Willmore begs again to know Hellena’s mistress’s name. She asks if he has forgotten it, and he wonders if he has met this mystery woman before. As Angelica approaches again, he again begins to call Hellena a liar; the courtesan, however, refuses to believe him and turns away. A third time Willmore asks who Hellena’s mistress is; and a third time, when Angelica turns back around, Willmore calls Hellena dishonest.
Despite being insulted and accused, Willmore still feels no guilt whatsoever. The scene that follows is comic and ridiculous, as Willmore repeatedly comforts Angelica only to act unfaithfully towards her as soon as her back is turned. This pattern is not only funny, but also makes obvious how bold and shameless the cavalier truly is. Note too that although Angelica knows that Willmore’s wit is often deceptive, she is still unable to resist him.
Breaking the cycle at last, Angelica asks Hellena to look into Willmore’s face and identify him. As their eyes meet, the cavalier at last recognizes Hellena as his gypsy girl; he laments that the mystery woman he hoped for is fictional, and decides to torment Hellena for her deception.
Unlike Belvile, the clever Willmore is able to identify the object of his affections without help. Also unlike Belvile, however, the mischievous Willmore feels no need to treat Hellena in a gentle or courteous manner.
Willmore announces to Angelica that he has uncovered Hellena’s plot; Hellena worries that he has seen through her disguise and begs him not to reveal her, but he maintains that he is teaching her a lesson. The Englishman announces that the woman Hellena speaks of is not noble, but rather is a forward, irritating gypsy girl. He goes on to insult Hellena, saying that Angelica should not be jealous of such an unattractive creature. Hellena is secretly jealous, while Angelica reacts with disbelief.
Witty and sharp at all times, Willmore’s treatment of Hellena is both insulting and flirtatious. He does not fully expose Hellena to Angelica, but instead uses the opportunity to fool the courtesan while also teasing the noblewoman. He is once again in control of the situation, due to his ability to manipulate the women with his language.
After Willmore tells Hellena to return to her supposed mistress with a scornful message, Angelica attempts to extract a promise from him to never marry the fictional gypsy girl, but he manages to avoid doing so, swearing only that if he ever does marry, he will marry a sinner as witty as himself. Angelica believes that no such woman exists.
Although Angelica believes that Willmore speaks of an imaginary woman whom he might one day marry, the audience understands that he is speaking of Hellena, who is his intellectual match, able to keep up with his banter and beat him at his own game.
Sebastian enters, announcing Don Antonio; hearing his name, Hellena flees, believing that he may see through her disguise. Angelica resolves to go see the viceroy’s son, and Willmore pretends to react jealously, asking if he should leave her to his rival. Seeing through his pretense, she once again calls him false, and orders him to leave before she kills him. Willmore is glad of his banishment, and resolves to find his gypsy.
Since she has apparently given up on Willmore’s love, Angelica chooses to go back to her profession, once again trading sexual favors for money. Although Willmore tries to convince her that he has not been unfaithful, she at last sees through his eloquence and refuses to be re-seduced.
With Willmore gone, Angelica mourns his loss, and reveals that she has lost faith in herself and in love because of his infidelity. She resolves, since she is “not fit to be belov’d” that she will revenge herself upon the cavalier.
Despite her beauty, Angelica has now lost her pride by making herself vulnerable to Willmore and being rejected by him. Believing herself worthless, she begins to shift from love to hate.