Gestus and Signature in Aphra Behn's The Rover
DOI link for Gestus and Signature in Aphra Behn's The Rover
Gestus and Signature in Aphra Behn's The Rover book
A complex analysis of the sexual politics of representation, particularly theatrical representation, Elin Diamond's essay centres on the prostitute Angellica Bianca's portrait. When the hero Willmore, invested with the patriarchal authority of king and court, appropriates the portrait before even seeing the woman it represents, his treatment of Angellica as a fetishized, male-owned object is linked metonymically to the commodification of the Restoration actress, comparably reduced to an enticing representation for male consumption. Thus, in Diamond's gendered version of Brecht's gestic moment, when the social meaning of a character's action is laid bare, the Restoration theatre is exposed as a microcosm of the patriarchal exchange economy which even the play's virgins, bent on marriage for love, cannot escape. Diamond's essay, while drawing extensively on Marxist and French feminist psychoanalytic theory, nonetheless affirms the importance of authorial signature: Angellica's portrait also encodes Behn's own position in a culture of gender which equated her professional status with prostitution. Within the context of the debate between Anglo-American and French feminism over women's writing, Diamond's essay represents an attempt to combine a post-humanist critical method with an Anglo-American womancentred politics.