Contracts and Promises: Speech Acts, Sex Acts, and Don Juan

  • Melinda Alliker Rabb


In order to demonstrate some of the strategic relationships between gossip, slander, secret history, and satire, this chapter investigates two groups of texts relating to the rebellion of James Scott, Duke of Monmouth. Handsome, privileged, ambitious, and controversial, Monmouth was a topic of imaginative discourse in which liberty and libertinism overlap. In “Silvio’s Complaint,” Behn represents him as a seduced shepherd who “languisht to be King” (1. 48). But his reputation as a womanizer turns up even in the introductory pages of the Spectator: while meeting members of the club, the reader learns that Will Honeycomb knew “when the Duke of Monmouth danced at Court such a Woman was then smitten, another was taken with him at the Head of his Troop in the Park” (No. 2; March 2, 1711). Representations of his desire for love and power intertwine tales of seduction and betrayal, his own and other men’s, and support a comparison to that father-challenging paragon of male virility and speech act theory, Don Juan.


Sexual Double Standard Young Lady Love Affair Paradise Lost Paternal Authority 
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© Melinda Alliker Rabb 2007

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  • Melinda Alliker Rabb

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