Table Of Contents
- About the author
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- Part 1 Despotic women in early Gothic fiction
- 1.1 The female tyrants of Ann Radcliffe
- 1.2 Post-Radcliffean female tyrants
- 1.3 Le Fanu’s Carmilla – a victimized tyrant
- Part 2 Domestic Gothic female tyrants
- 2.1 Introduction
- 2.2. The Life and Loves of a She-Devil – the text
- 2.3 The Life and Loves of a She-Devil – the film adaptations
- 2.4 The Robber Bride – the novel and its film version
- Part 3 Beyond the age constraints: Gothic female tyrants in the novels of Beryl Bainbridge and Zoë Heller
- 3.1 Introduction
- 3.2 Harriet Said… – between teenage angst and tyranny
- 3.3 Notes on a Scandal – love and manipulation (the novel vs. the film)
- Series index
Bibliographic Information published by the Deutsche
The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in
the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic
data is available online at http://dnb.d-nb.de.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
A CIP catalog record for this book has been applied for at the
Library of Congress.
The publication was financed by the Department of Canadian, Intermedial
and Postcolonial Studies (Institute of English Studies, Faculty of Philology,
University of Łódź), as well as the Faculty of Philology, University of Łódź,
as part of the academic development fund for 2019-20.
This publication has been peer reviewed.
Reviewers: Anna Branach-Kallas (Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń),
Jolanta Nałęcz-Wojtczak (University of Łódź).
Cover Illustration: Agnieszka Wierzbińska
ISSN 2627-0684 ∙ ISBN 978-3-631-82006-3 (Print)
E-ISBN 978-3-631-82688-1 (E-PDF) ∙ E-ISBN 978-3-631-82689-8 (EPUB)
E-ISBN 978-3-631-82690-4 (MOBI) ∙ DOI 10.3726/b17164
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About the author
Tomasz Fisiak is an assistant professor in the Department of Canadian, Intermedial and Postcolonial Studies, Institute of English Studies, the University of Lodz. The main subject of his research is Gothicism as a widely understood cultural phenomenon. He is a language editor of Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture.
About the book
She-(d)evils? The Construction
of a Female Tyrant as a Cultural Critique
Although Gothicism remains a popular subject of scholarly investigation, little attention has been paid to the figure of the Gothic female tyrant. This book attempts to prove that despotic women in Gothic fiction are more than mere female equivalents of male tyrants or negatives to angelic damsels in distress. Rather, they are multidimensional characters who are punished for their independence, power and the free expression of their erotic needs. The book explains how their portrayal has evolved, embracing a selection of texts written between 1764 and 2003, as well as a few cinematic adaptations of the analyzed works. The study views Gothic anti-heroines in their historical, social, class and cultural contexts, paying particular attention to the notion of desire and its fulfillment. The analysis, accompanied by the relevant theoretical framework, aims to help the eponymous “she-devils” reclaim their space and voice.
This eBook can be cited
This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.
First and foremost, I would like to thank prof. Dorota Filipczak (University of Łódź) for her supervision, guidance, invaluable comments and help in writing, defending and publishing this work; prof. Anna Branach-Kallas (Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń) and prof. Jolanta Nałęcz-Wojtczak (University of Łódź) for their generous reviews and helpful suggestions; and prof. Agnieszka Łowczanin (University of Łódź) for inspiring my love for Gothicism. Thanks are also due to mgr Ewa Antosik and mgr Magdalena Stanisławska, my English teachers, who instilled in me a real passion for English. I want to thank Agnieszka for a wonderful cover illustration, as well as Alex, Clive and Ed who supported me with their careful proofreading. Last but not least, let me express my most sincere gratitude to my parents, other family members, friends and university colleagues for their infinite care and encouragement. I dedicate this publication to the memory of my grandparents.
The character of an evil woman has been a common theme in literature through the centuries. A female tyrant, a monster, a manipulator – there have been numerous examples of such figures in various literary texts. The term that shall be used here, a female tyrant,1 may sound, however, quite vague, for what makes a woman one? Is it a matter of her crimes or offences, both factual and alleged, ranging from infidelity to libel? Is it offensive enough for her to be sexually and socially liberated, resolute and unbending to male domination? Is female tyranny a result of her desire to possess power over both her actions and actions of others? Or is it sufficient for her just to be a woman in a patriarchal world? These questions will be addressed in the analysis of selected Gothic texts spanning four centuries – from the early works by Ann Radcliffe (1790s) to a fairly recent contribution to the genre, namely Notes on a Scandal by Zoё Heller (2003).
Gothic fiction, the by-product of the 18th-century sentimentalism, and one of the proofs of the backlash against rationalism, is most often associated with the stock female character of a damsel in distress. A persecuted Gothic maiden is almost always juxtaposed with “the selfish and ambitious villain” (Botting 51), an antagonist “who in many cases has pledged himself to diabolical powers” (Phelps 110–11). The Gothic tyrant is usually a king, a spoilt aristocrat, or any other man of superior rank. Apart from these two, the earliest Gothic texts typically include valiant knights and duplicitous representatives of the clergy. Female antagonists appear less frequently. If they do, they are referred to as “fatal, Medusa-like women” (Phelps 111), and they face ultimate condemnation and punishment for their moral demise. Anti-heroines usually exist at the margins of Gothic fiction, which may have led to their marginality as a subject of academic investigation. Even though Gothicism, despite its convoluted history, still manages to inspire scholars and authors alike, the attention is shifted more toward male villains and persecuted women, as well as the role of nature, economic and class issues, or even politics, but not the female tyrants. Hopefully, the following work will shed more light on this, so far, somewhat neglected group of characters, describing both the evolution of their depiction and changing attitudes towards them. ←9 | 10→Hence, I aim to verify the negative outlook on female despots and stereotypes to which they are exposed. Undoubtedly, female antagonists in Gothic fiction evoke fear with their powerfulness, independence and free expression of erotic desire. No longer humble or submissive, they are easily put into a convenient role of a scapegoat, misfit and threat to the male-oriented social order.
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Hardcover)
- Publication date
- 2020 (September)
- Gothic fiction Evil women Female despots Feminism Gothic cinema Gender studies
- Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2020. 192 pp.