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Title: Codes of Power in Aphra Behn's Drama
Author: Gammanpila, Sameeka S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2689 9368
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2010
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My examination of Aphra Behn’s drama explores three codes of power: a feudal code, a libertine code, and a commercial code.  Each chapter of the thesis explores what the code meant to Behn as she engaged with them in her plays.  Chapter 1 demonstrates that Behn’s early tragicomedies see through feudalism as an exclusively male code.  She opens up a serious debate for female participation in valiant deeds.  Chapter 2 examines Behn’s only tragedy, which questions the tangibility of women’s political involvement in the feudal structure. My discussion of libertinism forms a large portion of the thesis.  Chapter 3 considers how Behn’s early sex comedies depict low-born men who unjustly acquire titles and Cavalier rakes who destroy women’s reputations with their lustful whims.  Chapter 4 acknowledges an adjustment in Behn’s stance on libertinism.  She partly glamorises and partly dismantles the image of sexual potency in connection with the Cavalier male.  The Rover represents the dramatist’s first show of political support for the Stuarts, and she undoubtedly presents a more attractive version of her earlier rakish protagonists.  Chapter 5 examines Behn’s comedies written against the background of the Popish Plot and Exclusion Crisis.  She excelled at sex comedy and was keenly interested in pushing its generic boundaries. Behn’s mature work follows the two different directions of the continental escapism and London’s current affairs.  Her City plays trace the rise of tradesmen as a force to be reckoned with during the last two decades of Charles II’s rule.  Chapter 6 turns to the commercial code, and considers how Behn uses it as a different means of mocking her Puritan characters.   She explicitly parallels their wives and money as combined assets.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available