The Rover

The Rover Summary and Analysis of Act II, Scene i


Belvile and Frederick are walking with Willmore toward Angellica’s house when Blunt appears. Blunt is evidently smitten with his night with Lucetta; she did not charge him for her services, and she is expecting him again later in the evening. The four men arrive at Angellica’s house, where two bravos are in the process of hanging a picture of Angellica against the balcony, and two little ones at each side of the door. Upon seeing her picture, Willmore expresses once again his desire for her, but is disheartened by the steep monthly fee that he cannot afford. Don Pedro arrives with Stephano, both in masquerade. The Englishmen walk off for a moment, and Pedro announces that he will buy Angellica for what he considers a bargain price of 1,000 crowns. Angellica appears on the balcony with her servant, Moretta, and they discuss potential buyers. Angellica admits that she is flattered by the wonder of the Englishmen, but she ultimately decides that her interest lies with the man willing to pay the most for her. Don Pedro arrives in costume with Stephano; Don Antonio enters at another door with his page, also in costume. Both men make known their desire to purchase Angellica. When Antonio’s page encourages him to purchase Angellica despite being promised to Florinda, Don Pedro is made aware that his competitor is in fact Antonio. Angellica plays the lute from up above, and then parts the balcony curtains and bows to Don Antonio, who removes his mask and blows her kisses. Pedro watches on, angry and disturbed at his friend’s dalliance. When Antonio inquires about purchasing Angellica, Pedro tells him that he is too late, for he has already made an offer. The two men draw and begin to fight when Blunt and Willmore jump in to separate the quarreling Spaniards. Pedro, who remains in disguise, tells Antonio that he wants to fight him the next day, not for Angellica, but rather to defend Florinda’s honor. Antonio mistakenly thinks that the disguised Pedro is Belvile, for he cannot imagine any other man who would be angry with his disrespecting of Florinda; he agrees to fight him. Pedro and Stephano leave.

Meanwhile, Willmore has been gazing at the picture of Angellica, and pulls down one of the little ones. Antonio orders him to restore the picture, and Angellica appears once more above, curious about the exchange between the two men. A fight erupts between the Englishmen and the Spaniards; the Spaniards are beaten off, and Angellica invites Willmore into her house.


This scene highlights an important and recurring theme throughout the play: the inextricable relationship between desire and economic gain. We have seen examples of the interplay between marriage, sexual desire, and finances in prior scenes—think back to Hellena and Florinda’s conversation about marriage and financial security, or recall the brief discussion between Willmore and Belvile regarding the manner in which prostitution is handled in Italy. But in this scene the relationship between love—or love making—and money is front and center: Angellica has set a monthly fee for her sexual services, and prospective buyers are considering this fee. Interesting to note in this scene is the way in which Angellica reacts to the prospective buyers; she is more interested in the Englishmen’s consideration of her fee than the Spaniards’ pledge to pay it. One might expect the courtesan to be more concerned with the men who are committing to support her financially, but she is interestingly more intrigued by the men who are interested but unwilling or unable to pay her fee. In an revealing moment, Angellica notes, “[the Englishmen’s]/ wonder feeds my vanity, and he that wishes but to buy give/ me more pride than he that gives my price can make my/ pleasure” (34, l. 129-131). This line reveals an unexpected source of motivation behind Angellica’s desire to put herself up for sale: of course she wants to make a living, but there is something even more enticing for her in the period leading up to purchase. She is not concerned that the Englishmen cannot afford her price; she revels simply in her ability to hold their attention and evoke their desire. In this sense, Angellica can be understood as taking delight in the power that displaying herself for sale—mounting her picture, naming her price, etc.—accords her. The woman is in control in this scenario, however brief that control might ultimately be. As we come to see in the following scenes, this power is only momentary, for Willmore effectively appropriates it when Angellica falls in love with him. Despite the short-lived nature of Angellica’s power over her male suitors in this play, it is well worth considering as a commentary on how and to what degree of success seventeenth century women were able to exert power and control over their male counterparts.