The Rover

The Rover Summary and Analysis of Act III, Scene vi


Belvile, Frederick, and Willmore head out onto the street, where Willmore apologizes for his mistake. He claims that he had no idea he was attacking Florinda. Belvile is furious and challenges Willmore to a duel, but Willmore declines. The Englishmen arrive at Angellica’s house, and Willmore enters whilst Belvile goes to assume his position under Florinda’s bedroom window.

When Willmore enters Angellica’s house, he crosses paths with Antonio, who has just paid his thousand crowns for Angellica. Willmore draws on Antonio and injures him. Upon hearing Antonio’s page cry out “Murder!” Belvile returns to see what Willmore has gotten into. Willmore leaves, and when officers arrive to check out the situation, Belvile is falsely accused of injuring Antonio and is taken away to Antonio’s apartment.


There is an unfortunate case of mistaken identity in this scene, and Belvile falls victim. Despite his chivalry and admirable display of benevolence, Belvile ends up a loser in this scene, as Antonio mistakes him for a violent attacker. Willmore, on the other hand, gets off scot-free as he flees the scene while his friend takes the fall. Belvile thus continues what has arguably become a futile plight to "do the right thing"-- not only has his chivalry thus far failed to secure his love, Florinda, but it also appears to be getting him into trouble. Willmore, in contrast, is consistently reckless and carefree, and seems only to be attract females and avoid trouble. Both men make mention to "luck"-- or a lack thereof-- as a contributing factor in these apparently unfair outcomes, but it is unclear to what extent either believes in this factor. As mentioned, these two characters ay be understood as foils to one another, and in setting up Belvile and Willmore as so obviously opposite in their approach to life and according characteristics, Behn invites comparison when anything happens to these characters. We might consider, for example, how both men not only fare throughout the play, but also what they accomplish by the end. Jumping forward to the end of the play, both men seem to end on comparably positive notes, with upward-looking prospects; Belvile and Willmore both end up with a woman, and a presumably enjoyable future. Both men achieve this end by very different means however; Willmore moves through the play carefree, unrestricted, and acting on impulse, whereas Belvile adopts a chivalrous but relatively reserved and controlled approach to life. If both men achieve reasonably similar outcomes, then is there any advantage to adopting the chivalric code? Behn draws attention to the different approaches to life-- chivalry and libertinism-- and seems to advocate for libertinism, if we gauge advocacy by the extent to which a character gets "lucky" or prospers throughout the play. That is to say, Willmore is the character who arguably most satisfies his desires and indulges his whims throughout the play, and he ultimately achieves a favorable outcome; it would appear thus that Behn is alluding via this character's behavior and according achievements, that his lifestyle is most attractive and rewarding.