Fools and Jesters in Literature, Art, and History: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook

By Vicki K. Janik; Emmanuel S. Nelson | Go to book overview

to Dennis, not simply be "pleased," but would learn how and how not to act upon returning from their travels in France and Italy.

Modern critics, while not ignoring the fop's satirical implications, have also begun to examine the gender roles, sexual power relationships, and homosocial character groupings of these plays; such readings, obviously, must include discussions of the fop's effeminacy and innocuous ineffectiveness in comparison to the other characters. Critics, sexual historians, and philosophers have tracked the developing tendency in the eighteenth century to label homosexual men as a deviant species, entirely separate from heterosexual men. Such a historical perspective may change our readings of some of the later fops. Perhaps due to the burgeoning popularity of gay-lesbian theory (queer studies), the fop will continue to be read and reread from new perspectives, particularly since the character surfaces in contemporary popular culture consistently as a homosexual man.


NOTES
1
Although true fops are men, certain fop characteristics can be found in female characters. Narcissa of Love's Last Shift and Olivia in The Plain Dealer are both depicted as women with foppish tendencies, and Heilman points out that Mrs. Fantast in Shadwell's Bury Fair, Belinda in Congreve The Old Bachelor, Lady Fancyfull in Vanbrugh's The Provoked Wife, and Emilia in Shadwell Sullen Lovers could all be considered fops. Of course, the effeminization of the male fop does not apply to the female fop, nor can the process be reversed (the female fop is not "emasculinized" by her foppery).
2
For a more complete discussion of the rake hero, see Harold Weber, The Restoration Rake-Hero ( Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1986).
3
For further discussion on the adoption of French styles and manners and the economic implications of fop fashions, see Charles H. Hinnant, "Pleasure and the Political Economy of Consumption in Restoration Comedy", Restoration 19.2 ( 1995): 77-87.
4
Heilman's article on fops provides an extensive discussion of the social worth of the good-natured fop.
5
Although he is not discussed at length here, Colley Cibber is the playwright most often associated with fops because he created memorable fop roles that he himself enjoyed playing on the stage. Cibber's fops are discussed at length in Kristina Straub Sexual Suspects.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Sources

Behn Aphra. The City Heiress. In vol. 2 of The Plays, Histories, and Novels of the Ingenious Mrs. Aphra Behn. 6 vols. London: John Pearson, 1871. 169-263.

-----. The Town Fop. In vol. 3 of The Plays, Histories, and Novels of the Ingenious Mrs. Aphra Behn. 6 vols. London: John Pearson, 1871. 3-87.

-212-

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