Of Love and War: The Political Voice in the Early Plays of Aphra Behn
Of Love and War: The Political Voice in the Early Plays of Aphra Behn is a study which situates Behn’s early plays within their historical and political context. Behn (c.1640-1689), the first professional female playwright in England, is a fascinating study, having traveled to Surinam as a young woman, served as a spy for Charles II, and evidently supported her family through her writing, including plays, poetry, fiction, and translation.
Her early plays have often been dismissed as romances, largely because they treat such social and/or gender issues as forced marriage and female desire. This study argues that these same social issues frequently serve as tropes for political commentary and propaganda in support of foreign and domestic policies. Behn’s plays clearly demonstrate staunch loyalist support of the Stuart government, yet within the dramatic construction, she—like her contemporary male colleagues, offers fascinating covert political criticism.
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