Rake (character)


Rake (character)

A rake is defined as a man habituated to immoral conduct. Rakes are frequently stock characters in novels. Often a rake is a man who wastes his (usually inherited) fortune on wine, women and song, incurring lavish debts in the process. The rake is also frequently a cad: a man who seduces a young woman and impregnates her before leaving, often to her social or financial ruin. To call the character a "rake" calls attention to his promiscuity and wild spending of money; to call the character a "cad" implies a callous seducer who coldly breaks his victim's heart. These men are also known as heels. A bounder is an 'ill-bred, unscrupulous man', the social inferior of the cad. [See generally, Jean Gagen, "Congreve's Mirabell and the Ideal of the Gentleman", in "PMLA", Vol. 79, No. 4 (Sep., 1964), pp. 422-427.] [David Haldane Lawrence (2007) "Sowing Wild Oats: The Fallen Man in Late-Victorian Society Melodrama","Literature Compass" vol. 4 no. 3, pp. 888–898 (2007)] [ [http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=cad+and+bounder Cad and bounder distinguished] ] [Bounder: American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3rd edition.] During the English Restoration period (16601688), the word was used in a glamorous sense: the Restoration rake is a carefree, witty, sexually irresistible aristocrat typified by Charles II's courtiers, the Earl of Rochester and the Earl of Dorset, who combined riotous living with intellectual pursuits and patronage of the arts. The Restoration rake is celebrated in the Restoration comedy of the 1660s and 1670s. [Harold Weber, "The restoration rake-hero : transformations in sexual understanding in seventeenth-century England" (Univ. Wisc., 1986; ISBN 029910690X).] After the reign of Charles II, and especially after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the cultural perception of the rake took a dive into squalor. The rake became the butt of moralistic tales in which his typical fate was debtor's prison, venereal disease, or, in the case of William Hogarth's "A Rake's Progress", insanity in Bedlam. [John Harold Wilson, "A Rake and His Times" (New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Young, 1954).]

The rake is often portrayed as a heavy drinker or gambler. An earlier form of the word was "rake-hell", a form reshaped by folk etymology to mean someone who stokes the fires of Hell, making them hotter. The actual etymology of the word is from the Old Norse "reikall", meaning "vagrant" or "wanderer"; this was borrowed into Middle English as "rakel" (possibly via Dutch "rekel", meaning "scoundrel").

Rakes are also very arrogant.Fact|date=September 2008

Well known fictional rakes and cads include:

* Dorimant, the hero of "The Man of Mode" by George Etherege, based upon the historical Earl of Rochester mentioned below and above
* Compeyson, the man who jilted Miss Havisham in "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens
* Alec d'Urberville, Tess's seducer in "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" by Thomas Hardy
* Rodolphe Boulanger, Madame Bovary's principal lover
* Harry Paget Flashman, chief character of a series of novels by George MacDonald Fraser
* Don Juan
* Mollie Flannigan
* Dorian Gray
* Tom Rakewell, the protagonist of William Hogarth's series of paintings, "A Rake's Progress"
* The Prodigal Son, one of Jesus' parables
* The Vicomte de Valmont, the consummate seducer of the novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses
* Rupert of Hentzau
* Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) in his persona as Liam of Galway, before he was made into a vampire
* Caledon Hockley, Rose DeWitt Bukater's fiance in "Titanic"
* George Wickham, of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice"
* Pechorin, the anti-hero of "A Hero of Our Time" by Mikhail Lermontov
* Harry Horner, from The Country Wife by William Wycherly
* Dmitri Karamazov sensualist elder brother of Doestyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov
* Lovelace, suitor to Clarissa in Samuel Richardson's novel. Lovelace (a pun on Loveless) is as much interested in power as seduction.Historical figures who have informed the stock character include:

* Cagliostro
* Lord Byron
* John Mytton
* Giacomo Casanova
* Charles Sackville, 6th Earl of Dorset
* John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester
* Sir Charles Sedley
* John Wilkes
* Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun
* Colonel Francis Charteris
* Hellfire Club
* Marquis de Sade
* Francis Dashwood
* Beauchamp Bagenal

The stock character of the rake can be contrasted with some others. The "town drunk" is frequently intoxicated, and impoverished by heavy drinking, but here the focus is on the character's alcoholic state rather than on sexual excess; the town drunk is typically older than the rake.

See also

* Promiscuity
* Fop

References


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