Why does my form appear to create such terror? : monstrosity and gender in four nineteenth-century novels
Hall, Kimberly Ann.
Thesis (M.A.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references. This thesis explores the ways in which bodily monstrosity is used to disrupt the binary of gender in four nineteenth-century novels: Frankenstein (1818), The Mummy! (1827), The Coming Race (1871), and Dracula (1897). This disruption reveals how gender is constructed as a category of identity and how that construction is used to determine agency. The essay simultaneously draws a connection between the critical theory of gender and the eighteenth-century work of Mary Wollstonecraft, asserting that there are strong parallels between Wollstonecraft's arguments is A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and the gender disruption presented in these four novels. Through close readings of the monsters' bodies, I assert that monstrosity is initially limited to ungendered features of the body--such as teeth--before the monstrous body has gender imposed upon it. Because of the parallels between the monstrous body within the four novels, I assert that these texts should be re-categorized as pure fantastic novels because the disruption they introduce leaves the reader with an unresolved sense of hesitation. Once the novels are considered as a genre the repetition of gender disruption within that genre demonstrates the possibility of an agency not determined by the binary of gender.
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