The Successful Pyrate Analysis

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In the eighteenth century, reputation and power were some of the most important issues facing society, particularly the two ends of the spectrum: the upper-class and the criminals. Pursuing greater social status led many high class individuals and families to neglect basic human necessities such as love and comfort for the appearance of perfection and the gains of a influential or wealthy reputation. Much like the pirates, reputation was the key to everything that the higher classed individuals said and did. In the economics of piracy, the reputation of any captain could provide the highest level of benefit for the lowest cost. In the upper-class society, marriage transactions were the process of exchanging or conglomerating wealth and reputation …show more content…
There are no current studies showing the connection between marriage and piracy and how the economic structures of both are highly similar. I will attempt to explore this connection by examining the marriage lottery scene in Charles Johnson’s play The Successful Pyrate. Arviragus, the pirate king of Madagascar is using his reputation and power over his subjects to obtain the wealth he desires. This evokes the connection to arranged marriages by parents to create wealth for themselves at the expense of their children’s happiness. Arviragus unbeknownst at the time is separating his son, Aranes, from his love, Zaida, so that he can obtain the wealth and power of having Zaida as his queen. In this case the arranged marriage is his own, but the principle of going against young lovers still remains the same. Aranes exclamatory sentence, “thy Power, call’d Right, / Now leads thee to Imperial Zaida’s Arms” (Johnson 12) provides the notion of Zaida’s purpose as an imperial prize. In noting of Zaida’s heritage, he is paralleling the British imperialist conquests with Arviragus’ pursuit of Zaida. A prize that awaits conquering, Zaida’s ethnicity amplifies the conquering nature of Aviragus’ intentions to marry her. Aranes also points out that it is Arviragus’ power as King that is allowing him to enter this pursuit. Marriage in The Successful Pyrate, becomes an avenue of power. Instated by the king, the marriage lottery forces the men in his kingdom to marry the women whose name they pull from a hat. Arviragus strips the men of their power to choose a spouse, because as Boreal explains, “in the Case of Marriage – a Man’s understanding is so often bubbled by his Eyes, that our wise Prince, to prevent the Evils of our own Choice, resolves Fortune shall determine the whole matter” (13-14).

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