The characters within The Rover constantly try to distinguish whether they are feeling love or lust. The line between the two is a blurry one, but an incredibly vital question within the play. In fact, each character can be defined by their attitude towards these two emotions. In general, men prefer lust while women seek out love, but the play complicates matters. The rakish Willmore uses the ambiguity between love and lust to his advantage, vowing love when he actually only feels physical lust. Angelica begins the play preferring lust to love (and profiting from the lust her beauty inspires), and suffers greatly when she finally succumbs to the second emotion. Hellena, for all her boldness, wishes for love rather than lust, and succumbs to Willmore’s advances only after she is convinced hat he loves for her, rather than simply lusting. For the more traditional Florinda, lust is dangerous, making formerly honorable men threatening and dangerous.
The question of the divide between these two concepts is important because essentially every action within The Rover can be attributed to one of them. Characters are largely helpless against the forces of both love and lust, and often act solely based on their emotional and/or physical desires. Because of their great power, it becomes even more important to distinguish between the two; doing so is the only way to truly understand the actions of the characters.
Love vs. Lust ThemeTracker
Love vs. Lust Quotes in The Rover
I dare swear I have had a hundred as young, kind and handsom as this Florinda; and Dogs eat me, if they were not as troublesom to me i’th’ Morning as they were welcome o’er night.
Love and Mirth are my Business in Naples; and if I mistake not the Place, here’s an excellent Market for Chapmen of my Humour.
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.
Willmore: But why thus disguis’d and muzzl’d?
Belvile: Because whatever Extravagances we commit in these Faces, our own may not be oblig’d to answer ‘em.
Willmore: I should have changed my Eternal Buff too: but no matter, my little Gypsy wou’d not have found me out then: for if she should change hers, it is impossible I should know her, unless I should hear her prattle—A Pox on’t, I cannot get her out of my Head: Pray Heaven, if ever I do see her again, she prove damnably ugly, that I may fortify my self against her Tongue.
How wondrous fair she is—a Thousand Crowns a Month—by Heaven as many Kingdoms were too little. A plague of this Poverty—of which I ne’er complain, but when it hinders my Approach to Beauty, which Virtue ne’er could purchase.
Yes, I am poor—but I’m a Gentleman,
And one that scorns this Baseness which you practise.
Poor as I am, I would not sell my self,
No, not to gain your charming high-priz’d Person.
Tho I admire you strangely for your Beauty,
Yet I contemn your Mind.
—And yet I wou’d at any rate enjoy you;
At your own rate—but cannot—See here
The only Sum I can command on Earth;
I know not where to eat when this is gone:
Yet such a Slave I am to Love and Beauty,
This last reserve I’ll sacrifice to enjoy you.
—Nay, do not frown, I know you are to be bought,
And wou’d be bought by me, by me,
For a mean trifling Sum, if I could pay it down.
Which happy knowledge I will still repeat,
And lay it to my Heart, it has a Virtue in’t,
And soon will cure those Wounds your Eyes have made.
—And yet—there’s something so divinely powerful there—
Nay, I will gaze—to let you see my Strength.
O’ my Conscience, that will be our Destiny, because we are both of one humour; I am as inconstant as you, for I have considered, Captain, that a handsom Woman has a great deal to do whilst her Face is good, for then is our Harvest-time to gather Friends; and should I in these days of my Youth, catch a fitch of foolish Constancy, I were undone; ‘tis loitering by da-light in our great Journey: therefore declare, I’ll allow but one year for Love, one year for Indifference, and one year for Hate—and then—go hang yourself—for I profess myself the gay, the kind, and the inconstant—the Devil’s in’t if this won’t please you.
Ah Rogue! Such black Eyes, such a Face, such a Mouth, such Teeth—and so much Wit!
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…
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.
Oh, name not such mean Trifles.—Had I given him all
My Youth has earn’d from Sin,
I had not lost a Thought nor Sigh upon’t.
But I have given him my eternal Rest,
My whole Repose, my future Joys, my Heart;
My Virgin Heart. Moretta! Oh ‘tis gone!
Angelica: Thou, false as Hell, what canst thou say to this?
Willmore: By Heaven—
Angelica: Hold, do not damn thy self—
Hellena: Nor hope to be believ’d.
Angelica: Oh perjur’d Man!
Is’t thus you pay my generous Passion back?
Hellena: Why wou’d you, Sir, abuse my Lady’s Faith?
Angelica: And use me so inhumanly?
Hellena: A Maid so young, so innocent—
Willmore: Ah, young Devil!
Angelica: Dost thou not know thy Life is in my power?
Hellena: Or think my Lady cannot be reveng’d?
Willmore: So, so, the Storm comes finely on.
Angelica: Now thou art silent, Guilt has struck thee dumb.
Oh hadst thou still been so, I’d liv’d in safety.
If it were possible I should ever be inclin’d to marry, it should be some kind young Sinner, one that has Generosity enough to give a favour handsomely to one that can ask it discreetly, one that has Wit enough to manage an Intrigue of Love—oh how civil such a Wench is, to a Man that does her the Honour to marry her.
He’s gone, and in this Ague of My Soul
The shivering Fit returns;
Oh with what willing haste he took his leave,
As if the long’d for Minute were arriv’d,
Of some blest Assignation.
In vain I have consulted all my Charms,
In vain this Beauty priz’d, in vain believ’d
My eyes cou’d kindle any lasting Fires.
I had forgot my Name, my Infamy,
And the Reproach that Honour lays on those
That dare pretend a sober passion here.
Nice Reputation, tho it leave behind
More Virtues than inhabit where that dwells,
Yet that once gone, those virtues shine no more.
—Then since I am not fit to belov’d,
I am resolv’d to think on a Revenge
On him that sooth’d me thus to my undoing.
A fine Lady-like Whore to cheat me thus, without affording me a Kindness for my Money, a Pox light on her, I shall never be reconciled to the Sex more, she has made me as faithless as a Physician, as uncharitable as a Churchman, and as ill-natur’d as a Poet. O how I’ll use all Women-kind hereafter! what wou’d I give to have one of ’em within my reach now! Any Mortal thing in Petticoats, kind Fortune, send me; and I’ll forgive thy last Night’s Malice
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.
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.
Angelica: All this thou’st made me know, for which I hate thee.
Had I remain’d in innocent Security,
I shou’d have thought all Men were born my Slaves;
And worn my Pow’r like Lightning in my Eyes,
To have destroy’d at Pleasure when offended.
—But when Love held the Mirror, the undeceiving Glass
Reflected all the Weakness of my Soul, and made me know,
My richest Treasure being lost, my Honour,
All the remaining Spoil cou’d not be worth
The Conqueror’s Care or Value.
—Oh how I fell like a long worship’d Idol,
Discovering all the Cheat!
Wou’d not the Incense and rich Sacrifice,
Which blind Devotion offer’d at my Altars,
Have fall’n to thee?
Why woud’st thou then destroy my fancy’d Power?
Willmore: By Heaven thou art brave, and I admire thee strangely.
I wish I were that dull, that constant thing,
Which thou woud’st have, and Nature never meant me:
I must, like chearful Birds, sing in all Groves,
And perch on every Bough,
Billing the next kind She that flies to meet me;
Yet after all cou’d build my Nest with thee,
Thither repairing when I’d lov’d my round,
And still reserve a tributary Flame.
Nay, if we part so, let me die like a Bird upon a Bough, at the Sheriff’s Charge. By Heaven, both the Indies shall not buy thee from me. I adore thy Humour and will marry thee, and we are so one of one Humour, it must be a Bargain—give me thy Hand—and now let the blind ones (love and Fortune) do their worst.