“Dwindling Down to Farce”?: Aphra Behn’s Approach to Farce in the late 1670s and 80s

Jorge Figueroa Dorrego

Abstract


In spite of her criticism against farce in the paratexts of The Emperor of the Moon (1687), Aphra Behn makes an extensive use of farcical elements not only in that play and The False Count (1681), which are actually described as farces in their title pages, but also in Sir Patient Fancy (1678), The Feign’d Curtizans (1679), and The Second Part of The Rover (1681). This article contends that Behn adapts French farce and Italian commedia dell’arte to the English Restoration stage mostly resorting to deception farce in order to trick old husbands or fathers, or else foolish, hypocritical coxcombs, and displaying an impressive, skilful use of disguise and impersonation. Behn also turns widely to physical comedy, which is described in detail in stage directions. She appropriates farce in an attempt to please the audience, but also in the service of her own interests as a Tory woman writer.


Keywords


Aphra Behn; farce; “commedia dell’arte”; Restoration England; deception; physical comedy

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18172/jes.3565

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