"Nothing but gold shall charm my heart" : sexual economics and the courtesans of Aphra Behn and Daniel Defoe
Date of Award
Master of Arts
Dr. Anthony Russell
Dr. Raymond Hilliard
Dr. Louis Schwartz
Aphra Behn and Daniel Defoe both manifest a strong interest in the courtesan, a female figure whose unusual success wins her autonomy from sexual and economic subjugation. In order to remain self-governing, Angellica Bianca and La Nuche of Behn's Rover plays and Defoe's Roxana must pay singular heed to their economic self-interest while forsaking the prospect of genuine romantic love. However, whereas Behn's courtesans undergo sexual "reformations"--figured as the acceptance of love (and marriage) and the resulting loss of independence--to their economic detriment, Roxana maintains the emotional reticence that allows her to continue capitalizing fully on her sexual allure. By discarding the romanticism present in Behn's plays, Defoe offers less compromised social criticism, a more realistic depiction of the sexual and legal injustices that make Roxana's vice a defensible alternative to either scarce, drudging employment or the captivity of marriage.
Ellis, Anthony L., ""Nothing but gold shall charm my heart" : sexual economics and the courtesans of Aphra Behn and Daniel Defoe" (1995). Master's Theses. 594.