The loving character of Clarinda is addressed by the author as both masculine and feminine. The character of Clarinda includes both genders which are clearly playful, seductive and conflicting. The author is enjoying her sexual desires with Clarinda with her male and female characteristics.
Not only was Aphra Behn one of the first professional women writers, she also worked as a spy for the British government. She was the most respectable writers of restoration period; she wrote many famous novels and poems including To the Fair Clarinda. Who Made Love to Me, Imagined More than Woman. The writer portrayed the emotions truly that belong to a woman in the old period with excellent ability,/ She was a who was born a hermaphrodite) in love; the poem is very attractive to catch the attention of people because it is a loving narration of writer which expresses a passionate feeling coming straight from the heart.
The feelings of love towards another woman are being described in the poem beautifully. The author is very clear in her thoughts and not much shy to say what she had to say; Behr views Clarinda as a woman rather than a hermaphrodite in her eyes.This theme of the poem is loving as well as conflicting. In the first few lines the theme of the poem speaks for itself and the message poet is trying to give.
The author Behr calls Clarinda her Fair Lovely Maid first of all that represents a woman or a female, but later on she goes on to express that she should name her in a more masculine way because Clarinda name is obviously too weak and too feminine. As the poem moves forward, the author suggests the name Lovely Charming Youth for her beloved Clarinda. Lovely Charming Youth is the type of name that can become a perfect fit for describing or expressing love for a man or a woman; it also shows that Clarinda in the poem is actually playing the role of a male or man.
The life and relationship of the author with Clarinda is amazing with full of loving emotions; Not only Clarinda is playing the role of a man or male in the poem but also a man anatomically which might even better her due to having the best of both genders. Clarinda is considered to be a perfect person because she is the most beautiful thing anyone could ever want, including the author herself. These generate the feelings of love for the author that are hard to imagine and make the character of Clarinda almost unreal.
The above scenario makes the readers of the poem a little bit uncertain about what author is trying to prove here, or whether author Behr herself is not even sure of or possible debating about the true gender role of Clarinda in the poem. In the very beginning of the poem, the labels are changing which reflects a conflicting picture of Clarinda as a man or a woman or both.
No matter what she is trying to portray regarding the gender of Clarinda, one thing is truly clear that the author is quite content with the role and existence of Clarinda when she is referring to her. The author is using the words “thy”, “thee” and “thou” and she is not making it clear to reveal the gender of Clarinda by using he or her. This again portrays an uncertainty into the role of Clarinda as a male or a female in the eyes of the author.
While considering the line “beauteous wonder of a different kind” towards the end of the poem, one can understand that Clarinda is a hermaphrodite which is clearly reflected towards the end of the line. She could be presenting that this different kind would be Clarinda while showing that she is too attracted and attached to Clarinda emotionally and physically. The love is undeniable in the feelings of the author for Clarinda.The author is giving several hints throughout the poem that Clarinda is a hermaphrodite; for example, by looking at the end of the first stanza, it becomes clear that what Clarinda is supposed to be. “For who that gathers fairest flowers believes- A snake lies hid beneath the fragrant leaves.”
To the Fair Clarinda is a playful and erotic piece of writing by the author Behr who is a female herself; it is a love poem that is surprisingly modern and emotionally touching. The loving character of Clarinda is addressed by the author as both masculine and feminine. The roles of masculine and feminine are important in the sexual conquest of a woman as explained by Behr; through the lines of a poem, the author is trying to give a message that in any kind of a sexual relationship, there are two definite rules of either masculine or feminine.
The poem is not an example of how male and female anatomy works in the sexual relationships; it is a representation of author’s love for her character Clarinda who is either a man or a woman with a conflicting identity. The title is gender-specific which was used in the seventeenth century for the attraction of young people. The speaker in the poem is obviously Clarinda who is not obviously a male or a maid; Clarinda is an active entity rather than playing a passive role as mentioned by the author by saying “neither weak nor feminine”.
The author is trying to present the problem by simply applying both titles to her loving Clarinda by calling her fair lovely maid as well as a lovely charming youth which represents her masculine identity. It provides a seductive charm and warm emotions of the author; the language fairly represents Clarinda as the masculine or feminine character possessing both qualities.
Being a charming youth and a fair maid, Clarinda herself is both a feminine character and a masculine character in the poem. The suggestion of poet is that masculine or feminine dichotomy is still valid; the attributes of Clarinda are possible to choose from both genders but in no sense, Clarinda is genderless. The next passage of the poem treats Clarinda as the maid and representing the youth. The author represents Clarinda as speaking entity who is flirting and seducing in nature. The following line depicts a clear message from the author:
“This last [the youth] will justify my soft complaint, / While that [the maid] may serve to lessen my constraint; . . .”
It describes the masculine or male half of Clarinda with which the author has fallen in love; it also justifies that the sexual attraction towards Clarinda is strong fro the author. The author feels pretty unconstrained and free to describe her feelings of love and sexual interest in Clarinda unlike any other male or female author. She is free to provide deeper insight into her desires and secret emotions for Clarinda. The lack of social consequences also stems the sense of freedom in author because, in these feelings, there is no chance of getting pregnant or losing her virginity.
The fact is that the author portrays Clarinda as the conflicting male or female suggests that there is an intimacy in their relationship, whether that relationship is the same-sex relationship or a different sex. The speaker also implies that she has nothing to hide before Clarinda because she is also a woman in her eyes and she is not afraid to reveal herself to another woman. She is fully aware that a woman like Clarinda has the same sexual feelings and desires of an author.
The poem shows that Clarinda is a character who is hard to resist for the young author; their relationship is purely loving which shows the liberation and freedom of author in the seventeenth century. The speaker is struggling with her desires as she would with a man and she is obviously experiencing some pain. The readers can easily judge that the strong pain of author is mostly self-inflicted and has nothing to do with the behavior of her loving character Clarinda. Her supposed pain is not an agony in a negative sense, rather this pain is giving her pleasure which a woman can experience. The following line can explain the point:
“Against thy charms, we struggle but in vain”)
It is mentioned in a plain and playful tone that the pain is not only sweet but it is prolonging. It is inevitable as well in a playful nature when Clarinda is using her female body to serve her lustful mind of a masculine. Clarinda is not only seducing the author with her masculine characteristics but also doing a good job being playful with the author being a feminine; Clarinda is enjoying playing her feminine role as well as masculine.
The fact that the speaker is changing her tone from “I” to “we” explains that Clarinda is playing a double role of masculine and feminine. The author has already made things clear by accepting the dichotomy of a traditional male or female; when Clarinda is exhibiting a male behavior, she is being masculine. At the same time, when Clarinda is exhibiting a female behavior, she is a feminine character. Whether a maid of a nymph, the author is associating her with a womanhood which shows her strong side of feminity exhibiting a feminine sexual behavior.
The author says that a woman can behave in a feminine manner, first she may struggle to express her sexual desires but at last she becomes open and free to give into her desires as portrayed in the Behr’s poem. In England, Behr is obviously talking about the sexual activity between the women of her time and adding playfully “For who that gathers fairest flowers believe / A snake lies hid beneath the fragrant leaves.” This line obviously gives the impression of an aggressive and strong masculine identity inside the character of Clarinda. Behind the mind, Clarinda is a sweet feminine role as well as an aggressive male role. The first stanza also shows Clarinda as a seducing character.
The beginning stanzas of the poem are also reflecting truly the sexual desires of the author and making several references to the act of physical lovemaking in the poem. It is talking about the naked form of Clarinda by saying “When so much beauteous woman is in view” which suggests a playful and somewhat forceful seduction towards the author.
The language of the speaker in the poem is also expressing the full-blown sexual fantasy in which Clarinda is literally acting as a male and female, but the poem does not provide any clear evidence that Clarinda is a hermaphrodite. The author is simply expressing her idea that she is enjoying the lovemaking with a male character as well as with a female character. The character of Clarinda is physically reflecting what is in the mind of the speaker in a modest language that is playful and seductive. The personality of Clarinda suggests that she has a playful nature which helps the author to join her in the intercourse.
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“More Than Wo/Man: Androgyny In The Poetry Of Aphra Behn – Christine Hoff Kraemer.” Christinehoffkraemer.com. N.p., 2018. Web. 8 Mar. 2018.
“To My Fair Clarinda – Writework.” Writework.com. N.p., 2018. Web. 8 Mar. 2018.