The Rover


Aphra Behn

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The Rover: Act 3, Scene 3 Summary & Analysis

Florinda enters her family’s garden for her rendezvous with Belvile; she is wearing only a nightgown, holding the key to the garden door, and carrying a box of jewels. After opening the door, she realizes that Belvile is late. While she goes to hide the jewels, a drunk, belligerent, and masked Willmore enters, annoyed that he has been unable to find Belvile or Frederick. He decides that the garden will be a good place to sleep.
A woman outdoors at night in her nightgown, Florinda is in an intensely vulnerable situation—a testament to her trust in Belvile. Willmore, meanwhile, has indulged in his other favorite pastime: drinking. His entrance only makes clearer how unsafe Florinda is.
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Seeing Florinda, but with no idea who she is, Willmore accosts her, drunkenly demanding a kiss. When Florinda resists his advances, he persists, attempting to persuade her to sleep with him. Florinda continues struggling, telling him that she will cry, “Rape!” if he will not leave her alone. Willmore reacts violently and angrily, telling her that she has clearly opened her garden door in order to ensnare men. He attempts to pay her, as he would a prostitute, and wrestles her to the ground as he struggles.
While Willmore has acted immorally before, this is the first time that we see him engage in a crime as serious as rape. His response that Florinda was essentially asking for it exemplifies his intensely troubling attitude of male entitlement. He may pay court to Hellena and Angelica, but he has no qualms about acting violently towards a strange woman.
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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 and violent, he draws his sword on his friends.
Although Willmore is drunk, he has now attempted to violate Florinda and stab his friends; his hijinks have moved from comic to troubling, illuminating the dark side of the character, the play, and the social customs of the society watching the play (all of which is likely intended by the author, Behn.)
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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 has ruined their plan. She flees in the nick of time, just as Pedro enters, ordering his servant Stephano to check on Florinda. The Spaniards fight the Englishmen, beating them out of the garden. Stephano reenters, telling Pedro that Florinda is safe, and blaming reveling servants for the open door; they exit, although Pedro remains suspicious about why the garden door was unlocked.
Willmore’s actions have consequences for Belvile, who once again loses his chance to reunite with Florinda. Once again the men of the play engage in a fairly senseless duel, making clear their careless and casual attitude towards violence.
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