The Rover

The Rover Summary and Analysis of Act II, Scene ii


Willmore has entered Angellica’s chamber, where she questions him regards the reason he pulled down her picture (this was, unbeknownst to Willmore, a great sign of disrespect). Willmore argues that the real crime lies in putting up so beautiful and tempting a picture, and expecting men not to pull it down. Rather than apologize, Willmore chides Angellica for selling sin (i.e., sex), and then proceeds to barter with her, so that he might buy her for a couple days rather than the whole month. As Willmore explains that he is too poor to purchase her for the month, she begins to fall for him. They have a long exchange, and Willmore is able to win her over with words; she professes that he need not pay her in money for her love, only give her his heart. Willmore and Angellica withdraw, and Moretta—Angelica’s lady in waiting—is left to comment on how ridiculous an unpaid relationship is.


Angellica invites Willmore into her chamber, planning to deride him for removing her picture from the balcony. However, it is Willmore who quickly takes the upper hand in the exchange, accusing Angellica of being the one truly at fault for hanging such a beautiful and enticing picture, and unrealistically expecting men not to take it down. Willmore expertly maneuvers here to successfully dominate the exchange, and in so doing displays an ability to manipulate comparable to that seen in Hellena earlier on in the play (as well as in scenes to come). By denouncing also her choice to sell herself, and then proceeding to barter with her regards her set monthly fee, Willmore effectively encourages Angellica to relinquish the control that she has established by electing to sell herself under her own terms. The turning point of the scene occurs when Angellica commits to relinquishing this power entirely, as she abandons her quest for money and tells Willmore that he can have her love if he loves her in return. By disassociating love from financial gain, Angellica opens herself up to potential disappointment and loss. No longer tied to financial gain, her love becomes a gift to Willmore, whom she must trust to hold up his end of the deal. Moretta scorns Angellica for so abandoning both class and feminine honor as she transgresses the boundaries that separate prostitute from lover. As Angellica moves from prostitute to lover, she essentially gives up the protection that such boundaries afforded her; she transfers the power that she once held via her unattainability to Willmore, who now owns her heart and has lost nothing in the process.