Given her influential and decidedly liberal feminist social agenda, Aphra Behn's political convictions during the struggles of the 1680s between Parliament and Charles II have struck several critics as incongruously reactionary. This essay proposes a partial resolution to this apparent contradiction by examining how Behn employs the psychology of transgressive love to model the relation between the king and his subjects. By drawing selectively from the different sets of inferences present in the conceptual spaces of passionate love and autocratic power, Behn produces an unstable but potent conceptual blend. The emerging “liberal royalism” is driven by desire and characterized by an emotionally irresistible reciprocal attachment.
Francis F. Steen; The Politics of Love: Propaganda and Structural Learning in Aphra Behn's Love-Letters between a Nobleman and His Sister. Poetics Today 1 March 2002; 23 (1): 91–122. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-23-1-91
Download citation file: