The Dutch Lover, Behn’s third play, was probably first performed on February 6, 1673, and was published later the same year, in November. The source material for the play has been identified as Don Fenise (1651), a Spanish romance by Francisco De Las-Coveras, though Behn makes changes, additions, and omissions to the original.
Unlike her first two plays, The Dutch Lover does not feature a prologue, only an epilogue. Behn did include a prefatory epistle to her reading audience, with a salutation which highlights the posture and exposes the author’s real resentment and sarcasm.:
“Good, Sweet, Honey, Sugar-candied READER”
The play is set in Madrid and features an international cast of characters, not only from Spain but also from Belgium and the Netherlands. The title of the play refers to both the Dutch fop, Hance Van Ezel, who is contracted to marry Euphemia, one of the central female figures in the play, and to the Flemish colonel Alonzo, who falls in love with Euphemia and temporarily borrows Hance’s identity midway through the play.
The plot of this play, like its two predecessors, The Forc’d Marriage and The Amorous Prince, is overcomplicated and contains an incest plot. Like most comedies of the time things proceed from disorder to order and all ends well in the world of this play. The arranged marriages that characters find themselves in at the beginning of the play are all replaced by companionate ones.