The Rover

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Florinda Character Analysis

The sister of Hellena and Don Pedro, Florinda is ladylike and modest, in contrast to her sister’s nontraditional forwardness. She is in love with the cavalier Belvile, who saved her from rape at the hands of soldiers during the Spanish civil wars, but has been forbidden to marry him by her father (who wishes her to marry the elderly Don Vincentio) and by her brother (who wants to wed her to his highborn friend Don Antonio). Florinda shows bravery as she tries to reunite with Belvile using various masks and disguises, but is constantly menaced by men like Willmore and Blunt, who repeatedly attempt to rape her. Despite these obstacles, she does end the play happily married to her beloved.

Florinda Quotes in The Rover

The The Rover quotes below are all either spoken by Florinda or refer to Florinda. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of The Rover published in 1993.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

I am resolv’d to provide myself this Carnival, if there be e’er a handsom Fellow of my Humour above Ground, tho I ask first.

Related Characters: Hellena (speaker), Florinda
Related Symbols: Carnival
Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:

As the play opens, Hellena is immediately established as brave, impertinent, and un-traditional. Her stereotypically unfeminine attitude contrasts with that of Florinda, who is gentle, modest, and demure. Thus playwright Aphra Behn has immediately introduced a complication to her play's presentation of gender roles. Florinda may be the "ideal" woman, but it is Hellena for whom the audience will root and with whom we will identify.

Hellena's statement in this passage is particularly transgressive, as she vows to "provide" for herself, and to find herself a handsome man during Carnival season. During this period in England, women were supposed to be passive objects of men's advances; the idea of a woman seeking out a man would have been shocking to those viewing the play.

It is significant, too, that Hellena has picked Carnival time to begin this mission. During Carnival in The Rover the world turns upside down, and untraditional behavior such as Hellena's becomes far more possible than it would be at any other time during the year. This theme of the topsy-turvy nature of Carnival will continue to expand throughout the play. 

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Act 3, Scene 3 Quotes

Florinda: I’ll cry Murder, Rape, or any thing, if you do not instantly let me go.
Willmore: A Rape! Come, come, you lie, you Baggage, you lie: What, I’ll warrant you would fain have the World believe now that you are not so forward as I. No, not you—why at this time of Night was your Cobweb-door set open, dear Spider—but to catch Flies?—Hah come—or I shall be damnably angry…

Related Characters: Willmore (speaker), Florinda (speaker)
Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:

As a drunken and aggressive Willmore attacks the helpless Florinda, audiences and readers alike must confront the darkest side of the world of The Rover: the threat of sexual violence.

In a world in which men are encouraged to be violent, dominant, and sex-obsessed, while women are forced to be meek and submissive (while also guarding their virtues), sexual violence is a real and present danger. What makes this instance so upsetting, however, is that it is our hero, Willmore, who is attempting to rape the virtuous Florinda. His charming wit has transformed into misogynistic violence, as he asserts that Florinda left the gate of her home open in order to "catch" men like him. 

The truth, of course, is that Florinda has done nothing wrong, while Willmore has crossed the line from amusing rake into aggressive predator. In making her hero attempt to engage in a truly evil act, Aphra Behn is displaying how blurry that line truly is, and how quickly the men of this society can transform into violent and brutal aggressors. 

Act 3, Scene 4 Quotes

Belvile: Damn your debaucht Opinion: tell me, Sot, hadst thou so much sense and light about thee to distinguish her to be a Woman, and could’st not see something about her Face and Person, to strike an awful Reverence into thy Soul?
Willmore: Faith no, I consider’d her as mere a Woman as I could wish.

Related Characters: Willmore (speaker), Belvile (speaker), Florinda
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:

Enraged by his friend's attempt to violate his beloved, Belvile confronts Willmore, demanding to know why he attempted to rape Florinda. He asserts that Florinda's goodness and virtue must have shown in her "Face and Person," and that Willmore should have shown "Reverence" to such a chaste and noble (and wealthy) woman. 

Willmore, however, responds that he did not see any such signs about her; and that, instead, he "consider'd her as mere a Woman" as he could want. What he means, essentially, is that in his drunken and sexually aggressive state, women become interchangeable to him. He did not care what Florinda looked like or who she was; he cared only that she was a female, and therefore an object for him to conquer and possess. Once again, we see the darkness and the misogyny that underly Willmore's supposedly amusing antics. 

Act 4, Scene 3 Quotes

Cruel, adsheartlikins as a Gally-slave, or a Spanish Whore: Cruel, yes, I will kiss and beat thee all over; kiss, and see thee all over; thou shalt lie with me too, not that I care for the Injoyment, but to let you see I have ta’en deliberated Malice to thee, and will be revenged on one Whore for the Sins of another; I will smile and deceive thee, flatter thee, and beat thee, kiss and swear, and lye to thee, imbrace thee and rob thee, as she did me, fawn on thee, and strip thee stark naked, then hang thee out at my Window by the Heels, with a Paper of scurvey Verses fasten’d to thy Breast, in praise of damnable Women—Come, come along.

Related Characters: Ned Blunt (speaker), Florinda
Page Number: 225
Explanation and Analysis:

The virtuous (and luckless) Florinda stumbles into Ned Blunt's rooms, looking for Belvile. Blunt believes that he has found the answer to his prayers: a woman for him to rape and abuse. Here we find the most naked and disturbing instance of misogyny yet within the play. Blunt tells Florinda that he will force her to lie with him solely so that she can experience his "Malice." He will do so, he explains, in order "to be revenged on one Whore for the Sins of another." In other words, since one woman has wronged him, he has turned against the whole sex.

This marks the second time in the play that the chaste Florinda is mistaken for a "whore." Playwright Aphra Behn does this deliberately, showing how men, with their violent and misogynistic mindsets, can believe even the most virtuous of women to be promiscuous and worthy of abuse. In truth, the men who act in this manner don't care what type of woman they abuse. Believing all females to be essentially the same--passive objects to be seduced or abused--they may claim to value virtue, but in truth, they value violence and domination more. 

I begin to suspect something; and ’twou’d anger us vilely to be truss’d up for a Rape upon a Maid of Quality, when we only believe we ruffle a Harlot.

Related Characters: Frederick (speaker), Florinda, Ned Blunt
Page Number: 228
Explanation and Analysis:

About to help Blunt to rape the helpless Florinda, Frederick pauses when Florinda desperately speaks Belvile's name. Although Blunt wishes to continue, convinced that Florinda is lying, Frederick orders him to stop. If they rape a virtuous (and wealthy) maiden, he explains, they will get in far more trouble than if they merely "ruffle[d] a Harlot."

Although it is this mindset that saves Florinda, we can also clearly see the deep immorality and misogyny that underlies it. The moment that Frederick believes that Florinda might have some value to another man--Belvile--he no longer wishes to violate her. To harm a highborn maiden in that manner would be a violation of both her betrothed (Belvile), as well as her noble father. In contrast, were Florinda a "harlot"--a lowborn woman or a prostitute--it would have been completely excusable, in Frederick's eyes, to rape her. 

This belief that women are only valuable in relation to men underlies much of the action of The Rover. Women must be protected by their fathers, brothers, and lovers, who vouch for their virtue and their nobility. Women who have no value to such men, or who sell their sexuality (as prostitutes do), are worthy of contempt at best, and sexual violence at worst. 

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Florinda Character Timeline in The Rover

The timeline below shows where the character Florinda appears in The Rover. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
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A pair of Spanish sisters, Florinda and Hellena, bicker in their chamber. They are living in Naples, where it is Carnival... (full context)
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Florinda says that she will not tell Hellena until Hellena is in love herself. Hellena retorts... (full context)
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Hellena goes on, asking if Florinda loves one of two Spanish noblemen: Don Antonio the viceroy’s son or the rich but... (full context)
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Hellena applauds Florinda for her defiance, saying that she loves “mischief,” as most women do. She asks Florinda... (full context)
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Florinda once again chides Hellena for being so interested in love when she is destined to... (full context)
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Florinda tells Hellena that she cannot be so bold, but Hellena says that she has beauty,... (full context)
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Hellena asks once again how Florinda knows Belvile. She replies that during a recent war in Spain, in the city of... (full context)
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...his sister that their father wishes for her to marry Don Vincentio for his fortune. Florinda in turn begs Pedro to change her father’s mind, adding that she hates Vincentio. (full context)
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Don Pedro mentions Belvile, and notices Florinda’s blush when she hears the name. When he questions her, Florinda replies that she is... (full context)
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Although acknowledging Belvile’s bravery, Don Pedro reminds Florinda of Don Vincentio’s fortune, but his sister fires back, reminding Pedro of Vincentio’s age. Pedro... (full context)
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Hellena expresses disbelief that Don Pedro will force her into a nunnery and force Florinda into the confinement of a loveless marriage. Pedro tells her that she is mad to... (full context)
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...She speculates about Don Vincentio’s habits in his “Moth-eaten” bedroom, asserting that he will force Florinda to undress him every night before belching and falling asleep. As Pedro repeatedly asks her... (full context)
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For all Hellena’s jibes, Don Pedro asserts that Florinda will marry Don Vincentio no matter what. When Hellena says that it would be better... (full context)
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Don Pedro, meanwhile, orders Callis to watch Hellena closely, while confiding in Florinda that he has been speaking of his father’s will rather than his own—he has merely... (full context)
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When Florinda expresses surprise, Don Pedro replies that he is doing this for her sake. She replies... (full context)
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In anguish, Florinda laments that she will not be able to escape Don Antonio, who is both young... (full context)
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...at the Carnival, Hellena replies that she will act “mad” but remain “innocent.” She asks Florinda to accompany her, attempting to cheer her sister by telling her of all the adventures... (full context)
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Florinda and Hellena decide to attend Carnival, accompanied by their cousin Valeria; they persuade Callis to... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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...or a woman. When Belvile continues to deny this, they question whether Belvile has reencountered Florinda—the woman he fell in love with in Pampelona (although they briefly forget her name). They... (full context)
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Belvile tells his friends that they are wrong—he knows that Florinda loves him, but he has been barred from her house by Don Pedro in order... (full context)
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Florinda, Hellena, and Valeria enter, disguised as gypsies. Callis, who has let them come to Carnival... (full context)
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Hellena immediately notices Belvile and points him out to Florinda. She notices Willmore too, calling him handsome, and decides to tell him his fortune. (full context)
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In yet another part of the street, Florinda reads Belvile’s palm, but laments that she still has not had an opportunity to reveal... (full context)
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Although Belvile had been walking away, he responds with excitement and puzzlement when he hears Florinda’s name. Florinda, still pretending to be a gypsy, tells him to come to her brother’s... (full context)
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Recognizing Florinda’s handwriting, Belvile rejoices, and begs his friends to help him rescue his love from Don... (full context)
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...food, but not before Belvile reminds them once again that they must help in gain Florinda that night. (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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...him to do so, saying that although his master will soon be married, his new wife—Florinda—will not miss a thousand pounds. Antonio tells his page not to name his future wife,... (full context)
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...that his masked rival is Antonio; he is appalled both because his friend has scorned Florinda, and because he himself may not now possess Angelica. (full context)
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...Molo; Pedro says that they will fight not for Angelica, but for the honor of Florinda, whom Antonio has wronged. Furthermore, they vow to duel in masks. Having agreed on a... (full context)
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Left behind, Antonio wonders who his rival for Florinda’s heart might be (still not realizing that it is Don Pedro), and speculating that it... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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Florinda, Valeria, and Hellena enter the same street on which Angelica’s house is located later in... (full context)
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...grew nervous and almost dropped her disguise completely. As Hellena begins to long for Willmore, Florinda and Valeria begin to mock her. Hellena acknowledges that she wishes she had never seen... (full context)
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...woman. Valeria teases her about her confusion, asserting once again that Hellena is in love; Florinda joins in, and together they poke fun. (full context)
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...almost blithely, saying that she resolved to fall in love, and now she has. When Florinda reacts with disbelief, asking who Hellena expects to like her if she acts so madly.... (full context)
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Florinda expresses surprise and dismay that Hellena has learned to love so quickly. Hellena begins to... (full context)
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When Florinda once again calls Hellena mad, her sister responds sharply, telling Florinda that she, too, in... (full context)
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Noticing the Englishmen enter without her “inconstant” Wilmore, Hellena urges Valeria and Florinda to hide with her in order to see what is going on. (full context)
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Meanwhile, Frederick courts Valeria while Belvile talks with the disguised Florinda and sulks, still not understanding that the girl is in fact his beloved. Valeria urges... (full context)
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Florinda decides to tempt Belvile further, offering him a jewel to show him that she is... (full context)
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Callis tells the ladies that it is growing dark and they must depart. Quickly, Florinda leaves Belvile the jewel, which as it turns out contains a picture of her. Wilmore,... (full context)
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Realizing that he has just been talking to Florinda, Belvile berates himself, and Frederick agrees, reminding his friend of how close they came to... (full context)
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Willmore praises Hellena’s features and wit, while Belvile does the same for Florinda, cursing his own modesty; the two briefly misunderstand each other, believing that they are rivals... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
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Florinda enters her family’s garden for her rendezvous with Belvile; she is wearing only a nightgown,... (full context)
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Seeing Florinda, but with no idea who she is, Willmore accosts her, drunkenly demanding a kiss. When... (full context)
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Belvile and Frederick enter (they are masked), looking for Willmore. Hearing Florinda’s cries for help, they rush to her aid, pulling Willmore off of him. Still drunk... (full context)
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Seeing Belvile, but hearing her brother Don Pedro approach, Florinda quickly instructs her lover to come to her chamber window, and tells him that Willmore... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 4
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...to forgive their friend. When Willmore asserts that he had no way of knowing that Florinda was noble, Belvile only grows more enraged, demanding a duel. Willmore, ever practical, says that... (full context)
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At the mention of tomorrow, Belvile remembers that Florinda is supposed to marry Don Antonio that day (not knowing about the rift between Antonio... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
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...darkened room in Antonio’s house, bemoaning his ill fortune and the loss of his beloved Florinda. Antonio enters, wearing his nightclothes and holding a sword, despite his injured arm. He asks... (full context)
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...Since the Englishman is in his debt, Antonio wishes him to fight the duel over Florinda’s honor that he has set with Don Pedro (although neither Belvile nor Antonio knows that... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
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The morning of the duel, Florinda enters the Molo with Callis and Stephano to see Don Pedro fight; the two women... (full context)
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Stephano takes his leave of Florinda, because he sees Don Pedro coming; he tells her that Pedro is still suspicious about... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Belvile enters dressed as Antonio; Florinda is relieved, believing that her beloved is not fighting the duel. He greets Pedro (though... (full context)
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Florinda runs into the duel, begging the two men to stop. Pedro refuses, and the two... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Belvile, out of love for Florinda, refuses to hurt Don Pedro, who says that although the cavalier won Florinda by Antonio’s... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
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Having escaped from Don Pedro’s house, Florinda and Valeria walk down the street in a different pair of disguises. Florinda is afraid,... (full context)
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Valeria reveals to Florinda that she has delivered a note to Belvile, who is desperate with anguish over the... (full context)
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...street, the women put on their masks. The men enter, along with Willmore, and notice Florinda looking at them. Mistaking her glance as an invitation, Willmore follows her offstage. (full context)
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Florinda reenters, chased by Willmore but still fearful of meeting her brother. She exits, only to... (full context)
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On a different street, Florinda, believing that her brother is now chasing her, resolves to hide in a house with... (full context)
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In a massive stroke of bad luck, Florinda enters and begs Blunt to protect her from Willmore. Blunt is scornful and violent, telling... (full context)
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Frederick enters, and rather than helping Florinda, he reacts with amusement, mocking Blunt for his nakedness. Florinda’s pleas for help have the... (full context)
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As the two men attempt to drag her into the bedroom, Florinda desperately mentions Belvile’s name, saying that she knows they are his companions and asking them... (full context)
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...to see either of them, while Frederick goes down to meet them—but not before locking Florinda away in his chamber. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
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...with his friends; he also betrays that Frederick has told them all about the captured Florinda (although no one knows her identity). Having broken down the door at last, Belvile, Willmore,... (full context)
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...he can, he will help Blunt avenge himself. Blunt then reveals that he still has Florinda (who he doesn’t know is Florinda) in his possession, and means to ruin her. He... (full context)
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Frederick urges Blunt to show their companions Florinda’s ring; when he does so, Belvile immediately recognizes it as the one he gave his... (full context)
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Willmore proposes that they go see Florinda to determine whether she is a noblewoman or not. As they are about to go,... (full context)
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...swords than Englishmen, Don Pedro wins, and the other men give up their claim to Florinda. As Pedro exits, unaware that he is about to threaten his own sister, Belvile curses... (full context)
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Florinda reenters, still masked, chased by Don Pedro. He demands to know who she is and... (full context)
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...by Don Pedro. Thinking on her feet, however, she runs to Pedro and claims that Florinda has run away in the guise of a page, but that Callis believes they can... (full context)
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A relieved Florinda embraces Valeria. Willmore and Blunt look on, confused, as Valeria urges Florinda and Belvile to... (full context)
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Frederick, too, apologizes, and Florinda says that she will forgive him as long as he follows Belvile’s example and marries... (full context)
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Lastly, Blunt begs Florinda’s forgiveness, and she grants it immediately. He gives Belvile back Florinda’s ring, too ashamed to... (full context)
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...not hold a sword. Pedro persists, appalled that Antonio would send his rival—Belvile—to fight for Florinda’s honor. Angrily, the two men agree to duel when Antonio is healed. (full context)
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The still angry Don Pedro resolves to give Florinda to Belvile in revenge against Antonio. Willmore reveals that the marriage has already taken place;... (full context)
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...enters and is immediately suspicious of Willmore’s actions. Don Pedro asks if Belvile has married Florinda and, hearing that he has, wishes them joy, embracing his new brother-in-law. The two exit... (full context)
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Pedro, Belvile, Florinda, Frederick, and Valeria reenter; Florinda is shocked to see her sister, and Pedro attempts to... (full context)