Date of Graduation

Spring 2011


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

Etta Madden


Aphra Behn, Puritanism, restoration theatre, Protestantism, Christianity, wits, Libertines, Royalist, patriarchy

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


This project consists of five stand-alone essays explicating religious themes within the following of Aphra Behn's plays: The Lucky Chance, The Feigned Courtesans, The Rover, The Emperor of the Moon, and The Widdow Ranter; Or The History of Bacon in Virginia. Since the feminist recovery of her works in the late twentieth century, Behn has become a popular subject of inquiry among gender critics who celebrate her for her sensationalized, and possibly fictionalized, biography and her protofeminist themes. Because of these—her biography and her protofeminism—critics have tended to divorce her work from the historical religious context in which it was written. Indeed, Puritanical religious views do seem incongruent with Behn's scandalous biography and apparent gender ideology. The project successfully views these five plays through a more complete historical context of the religious culture of seventeenth-century England, thus demonstrating that Behn was far less an anomaly and far more a product of her time and place than commonly believed.


© Magi Ida Smith

Campus Only