Seduction and Resistance: Behn's <i>Love‐Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister</i>

Toni Bowers

in Force or Fraud

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199592135
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725340 | DOI:
Seduction and Resistance: Behn's Love‐Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister

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In 1682, Lady Henrietta Berkeley eloped with her brother‐in‐law Ford, Lord Grey, one of Monmouth's closest personal friends and an avid follower in his rebellion. The scandal, much‐watched in the popular press and the subject of avid contemporary gossip, found its most memorable representation in Aphra Behn's Love‐Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister (1684–7), arguably the first novel in English. Love‐Letters draws on the salacious details of the Berkeley–Grey affair, including details that emerged in the subsequent trial, and places the story of sexual perfidy and perversion squarely in the context of the Monmouth Rebellion. Against that backdrop, Love‐Letters delineates the complexities of late seventeenth‐century tory sensibility and attacks what Behn saw as the faithlessness and treason of exclusion‐era Whig ideology. Familiar seduction topoi and gender roles are satirically revised, while sexual encounters are shown consistently to complicate the categories of rape and seduction, undermining the regime of “force or fraud.”

Keywords: Henrietta Berkeley; George, First Earl of Berkeley; Ford, Lord Grey; Aphra Behn, Love Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister (1684–7) Monmouth Rebellion; tory sensibility; whig sensibility; “Black Box”; Lucy Walters; topoi; gender roles; rape; seduction; Judge Jeffries; legal “Argument”; “Camp” (literary mode)

Chapter.  17168 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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