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Fawcett, Julia H. "Unmapping London: Urbanization and the Performance of Personal Space in Aphra Behn's The Lucky Chance," ECS, 50.2 (2017), 155–171.
In this probing study, Ms. Fawcett tries to do several things at once. First, she shows how "mapping" can define empty physical space without accounting for the persons—especially women—who attempt to maintain their integrity in that space. She relates these concepts to the way physical space and personal signals are shown and interpreted in real time, using a rape case, and on the stage, using the Lucky Chance. The charges of rape in the case of Dorothy England are clear, and a guilty verdict was easily brought. As Ms. Fawcett indicates, a major paradigm shift from defining rape as a crime against property (the father's, husband's, or other male relatives' of the victim) to a crime against the woman changed how cases were tried. Much still turned on the victim's ability to show that her behavior—her performance—did nothing to contribute to her violation. However, the connection between contemporary rape cases and the theatrical "performance of consent or resistance" is not sufficiently developed by Ms. Fawcett.
Ms. Fawcett gathers strength when she turns to a performance study of the play, with a challenge to scholars (especially Catherine Gallagher) who read the text without embodying the players and fleshing out their performances. She attributes to changeable scenery and "signifying properties" an alteration in "the relationship between private bodies and shared spaces." Furthermore, the introduction of women on the stage, she suggests, promotes the same dialogue between "private bodies and shared space." To see Anne Bracegirdle on stage with Elizabeth Barry playing the two principal roles in Lucky Chance was to see a presumed virgin and a known woman of the world model roles and perform social cues probably tailored to their talents.
What this study does best is challenge us to determine whether the ending is comic or one that threatens unrequited love for Gayman. After Julia kneels to divorce herself from Sir Cautious Fulbank's bed, the reverse of Leticia's mimicked marriage ceremony, what are we to make of Fulbank's bequest of wife and property (or [End Page 115] property—wife included) to Gayman? Gayman, who now understands that a woman is no longer legal property, turns to Julia to ask consent and does not get it—at least not in the words, "No Sir." But the trick of theater resides in how the lines are delivered; as Ms. Fawcett superbly suggests, these words could be somber and final, or they could be recited as "a preamble to a flirtation" and to a cuckolding of her foolish husband. The value of this study is that it alerts us to attend to stage directions, of which Behn provides many, putting personal space around the characters and moving them through a public space as we observe them.
Fike, Matthew A. "The Anima and Shadow Dynamics in Aphra Behn's Oroonoko," Anima and Africa: Jungian Essays on Psyche, Land, and Literature. New York: Routledge, 2017. Pp. 166–175.
In an intense Jungian analysis of Africa in its literary manifestations, Mr. Fike examines interactions among the continent, its peoples, the interlopers from Europe, and fictions from Hemingway to Achebe to Behn. His final chapter grapples with Oroonoko's "toxic combination of colonial influences." Mr. Fike uses the concepts of anima and shadow to examine Oroonoko's enslavement and death. In this paradigm, as he explains, the anima is not integrated in either Imoinda or the narrator; rather, Byam and Oroonoko project it on them, granting the women their feminine status while denying the moral responsibility inherent in a properly integrated anima. The narrator thus lacks power because she has only a projected anima, the feminine side granted to her and controlled by the male characters' projections.
The women thus lose the ability to temper the shadow—the dark side of the personality of the masters. Therefore, any suggestion that the narrator's absence enables the torture and death of Oroonoko is wrong. The vicious characters, especially Byam and Banister, project their dark side...