The Significance of Carnevale

The Significance of Carnevale in The Rover
Aphra Behn's play The Rover takes place in Venice, Italy during the Carnevale.Carnevale was one of the more important celebrations in Venice.It was a time of goodwill, dedicated to happiness and laughter much like the Mardi Gras we are familiar with today.The origins of Carnevale trace to over 3000 years ago to the pagan Roman fertility festival of Saturnalia (McCarthy 121).During Saturnalia, even the slaves took part in the festivities. Carnevale, a Latin word loosely translated as'farewell to meat,' was the last opportunity for wild abandon and pleasures of the flesh before the religious period of Lent.Likewise in The Rover, Hellena and Florinda exploit the Carnevale season to liberate themselves before religious periods in their lives begin the Convent and a forced marriage, respectively.
The symbol of Carnevale is the mask. The masks gave participants the opportunity to ridicule the archaic societal standards, without fear of punishment. Venetians of different social classes used Carnevale as an excuse to mingle and, in some cases, to trade sexual favors without fear of recognition or retribution.Members of the Aristocracy, in particular, went about their everyday lives masked for the duration of the festival (McCarthy 124). In fact, the tradition of masks for the Carnevale came from the Italian theater form commedia dell'arte (Hughes 110).This type of theater relies on the mask to help showcase exaggerated stereotypes, over-the-top physical comedy, along with improvisation.As the Carnevale celebration centers on maskers, the streets, the squares, the canals – basically the entire city becomes a stage.
Similarly, the plot in The Rover revolves around the issues of disguise and confused identities. The character of Hellena wears several costumes: a lady, a gypsy, and a boy.In costume, Hellena flirts with Willmore, and the disguise prevents a…

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