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
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
For a more complete discussion of the rake hero, see
Harold Weber, The Restoration Rake-Hero ( Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1986).
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.
Heilman's article on fops provides an extensive discussion of the social worth of
the good-natured fop.
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.
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.