On Her Loving Two Equally by Aphra Behn: Summary and Analysis

On Her Loving Two Equally by Aphra Behn was first formally published in 1682 in 'The False Count' under the title How Strangely does my Passion grow. This poem is about a woman who is divided equally between the love of two lovers and her indecisive nature.

Aphra Behn (1640- 1689)

The speaker in the poem is a lady who has fallen in love with both Damon and Alexis. Her love and passion for both cannot be divided for it is equal love. She is in great dilemma that she cannot reject one to choose another. She laments the absence of the Damon when she is with Alexis. But when she enjoys the company of Damon, she again starts missing Alexis and the feeling of missing the absent lover becomes scorn for her. Luckily, when she finds herself with her two lovers at the same time, then only she feels satisfied. But, it is not possible all the time. So, she requests the love god, Cupid, to remove one of the arrows of love from her heart that he had shot. But, still she cannot decide which arrow to remove, the arrow connected to Damon or Alexis? She then contemplates that if Cupid takes out the arrow of Damon, then all her hope is lost and if it happens to the arrow of Alexis, then she is lost. She is totally in a great trouble.

The frequent use of mainly imperfect and unsatisfying rhyme like 'god', 'blood', 'prove' and 'love' is to indicate the complexity and abnormality of emotions and deep feelings of the speaker regarding the chaos of love. These unrhyming patterns may also represent her indecisiveness and disturbed mind to choose the love of her life. The poet shows that love and emotions are natural to the speaker by the use of words like ‘heart’, ‘passion’, ‘Cupid’, and ‘love.’ The onomatopoeia word ‘sigh’ is used to show the vivid image of the mind of the speaker and her difficulty in choosing one love over the other.  The speaker in the poem is so possessive that every time she refers to Damon and Alexis, she says ‘my’. It depicts her love to both is equally the same and she cannot leave anyone for the sake of another.

The poet Aphra Behn here deals with the ‘double standard’ position of the people in her society. It is a satire to the patriarchal society where when a man is involved with the two women is unnoticed, and at the same time, when a woman is involved with the two men are condemned and castigated. The woman becomes immoral and the man with the same behavioral pattern remains pure and free. This poem is a vehement satire on the moral hypocrisy of the male dominated society. On the other hand, from the point of view of the woman who dates two men, she reveals the fact that females too have the same sexual urge as men. So, Behn proves that having a sexual relationship with more is not abnormal in the case of men so is in the case of women. This poem attacks on the unfairness done to the female on the basis so double standard.

Related Topic

Aphra Behn: Biography