The Rover

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Swords Symbol Icon
Throughout The Rover, swords are associated with masculinity, virility, and power. Belvile is a true man in part because of his skill with a sword. Much of Blunt’s humiliation comes from being robbed of his sword, and then being forced to wear a rusty one. At one point the cavaliers and Don Pedro draw their swords, and much is made of the fact that Pedro’s Spanish blade is longer than their English swords. Willmore, in particular, often uses swordplay as a metaphor for intercourse. The connection between masculinity and violence is a traditional but disturbing one, and Behn takes care to show the consequences of such a belligerent and dangerous atmosphere.

Swords Quotes in The Rover

The The Rover quotes below all refer to the symbol of Swords. 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:
Gender Roles Theme Icon
). 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 2 Quotes

Hellena: If you should prevail with my tender Heart (as I begin to fear you will, for you have horrible loving Eyes) there will be difficulty in’t that you’ll hardly undergo for my sake.
Willmore: Faith, Child, I have been bred in Dangers, and wear a Sword that has been employ’d in a worse Cause, than for a handsom kind Woman—Name the Danger—let it be any thing but a long Siege, and I’ll undertake it.

Related Characters: Willmore (speaker), Hellena (speaker)
Related Symbols: Swords
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:

Soon after Willmore is introduced, he meets his match in the disguised Hellena, who has escaped her chambers dressed as a "gypsy." It is immediately obvious to the audience that Hellena and Willmore are meant for each other. The two wittiest characters in the play, as they banter they fill their conversation with puns and double entendres. Thus their immediate physical attraction to each other is made clear through language. 

It is also vital to note that both Willmore and Hellena participate in a sexually charged way of speaking. While this would be expected of the rakish Willmore, it is surprising in the well-bred Hellena. Yet again we see this character's non-traditional nature, as she tempts Willmore with her "tender Heart" and notes his "loving Eyes." 

Wilmore, for his part, rises to the occasion as he sees that Hellena can match his wit. Chivalrously--so it seems--he swears to wield his sword for her, but then adds that he will not undergo "a long Siege." What he means, of course, is that he hopes Hellena will quickly give up his virtue to him and let him sleep with her.

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Swords Symbol Timeline in The Rover

The timeline below shows where the symbol Swords appears in The Rover. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 2
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Love vs. Lust Theme Icon
Deceit and Disguise Theme Icon
Wit and Language Theme Icon
...eyes” should capture her “tender heart.” Willmore, in turn, swears that he would use his sword for her to conquer anything but a “long siege,” meaning that he hopes it will... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Love vs. Lust Theme Icon
Class and Money Theme Icon
Believing that Willmore has insulted Angelica, Antonio threatens him with his sword; Willmore responds in kind, saying that while Antonio may have a thousand crowns to pay... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Love vs. Lust Theme Icon
Deceit and Disguise Theme Icon
Class and Money Theme Icon
...rejoice at their fine catch, and begin to count their substantial booty, including even Blunt’s sword and hat. They assert that they will not be caught, since Blunt does not know... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Deceit and Disguise Theme Icon
...to her aid, pulling Willmore off of him. Still drunk and violent, he draws his sword on his friends. (full context)
Act 3, Scene 4
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Love vs. Lust Theme Icon
...and is about to go in. As he does so, however, Antonio enters with his sword, and announces that he has paid Angelica’s fee. He resolves to sit under her window... (full context)
Deceit and Disguise Theme Icon
...his friend despite their quarrel, a group of soldiers enter, having heard that there were swords drawn during Carnival (a terrible crime). Recognizing Don Antonio, and seeing that he is hurt,... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Deceit and Disguise Theme Icon
...and the loss of his beloved Florinda. Antonio enters, wearing his nightclothes and holding a sword, despite his injured arm. He asks Belvile what he has done to earn Belvile’s hatred;... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Love vs. Lust Theme Icon
Deceit and Disguise Theme Icon
...she finally begs him in the name of his beloved, he stops, and lays his sword at her feet. (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Love vs. Lust Theme Icon
Deceit and Disguise Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Deceit and Disguise Theme Icon
...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,... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...the dangers of traveling. Bitter and angry, he resolves revenge. He straps on a rusty sword, believing that doing so will keep the cavaliers from laughing at him. He then continues... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
Deceit and Disguise Theme Icon
Class and Money Theme Icon
Wit and Language Theme Icon
...Belvile, Willmore, Don Pedro, and a page enter, laughing at Blunt as he draws his sword. (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Class and Money Theme Icon
...she attacked him, and attempted to rape him, but that he defended himself with his sword. (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Deceit and Disguise Theme Icon
Class and Money Theme Icon
...maintaining that he and Blunt still have custody. Willmore proposes that they all draw their swords, and that the man with the longest shall go in first; Belvile tries once again... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Deceit and Disguise Theme Icon
Wit and Language Theme Icon
Because Spaniards traditionally carry longer swords than Englishmen, Don Pedro wins, and the other men give up their claim to Florinda.... (full context)
Love vs. Lust Theme Icon
Deceit and Disguise Theme Icon
Class and Money Theme Icon
...hard times, but are still gentlemen. Willmore asserts that he can give Hellena only his sword to protect her, but says that he loved her before he knew her nobility or... (full context)