By Sos Eltis
From seduced maidens to adulterous better halves, bigamists, courtesans, stored ladies and streetwalkers, the so-called 'fallen lady' was once a ubiquitous and enduring determine at the Victorian and Edwardian level. Acts of Desire strains the theatrical illustration of illicit girl sexuality from early nineteenth-century melodramas, via sensation dramas, Ibsenite sex-problem performs and suffrage dramas, to early social realism and the well-made performs of Pinero, Jones, Maugham, and Coward. This examine unearths and analyses enduring plot traces and tropes that proceed to steer modern theatre and picture. Women's illicit wishes turned a theatrical concentration for anxieties and debates surrounding gender roles, women's rights, sexual morality, type clash, economics, eugenics, and feminine employment. The theatre performed a valuable function in either constructing and tough sexual norms, and plenty of playwrights exploited the ambiguities and implications of functionality to level disruptive spectacles of lady hope, supplier, power, and resourcefulness, utilizing ingenuity and ability to steer clear of the keep an eye on of that ever watchful nation censor, the Lord Chamberlain.
Covering an magnificent diversity of theatrical, social, literary, and political texts, this learn demanding situations the forex and validity of the usual serious time period 'the fallen woman', and establishes the centrality of the theatre to cultural and sexual debates during the interval. Acts of Desire encompasses released and unpublished performs, archival fabric, censorship files, and modern stories to bare the astonishing continuities, complicated debates, covert meanings, and exuberant spectacles which marked the heritage of theatrical representations of girl sexuality. attractive with well known and 'high paintings' performances, this learn additionally unearths the very important connections among theatre and its sister arts, tracing the alternate of impacts among Victorian drama, narrative portray and the unconventional, and exhibiting theatre to be a very important yet ignored point within the cultural historical past of women's sexuality.
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Additional info for Acts of desire: women and sex on stage 1800-1930
Gonson tracks down Chartres and Gourlay with the help of Fanny’s resourceful maid Dorcas, and the curtain falls on Gonson as moral arbiter, forcing the ‘horror struck’ Chartres to view the victims of his crimes (III, v, 21). Haines’s Fanny is not, like Hogarth’s harlot, a socially aspirant product of a venal society, but a pathetic maiden, whose vanity and frivolity make her vulnerable to the dastardly plot hatched by a collection of villains. The sexual energy of Hackabout is erased; Fanny is a repentant victim of her own shame, too aware of her ignominy to face her father, while innocent of taking lovers on the side, plying her trade, or acting as a highwayman’s moll.
E. Wilks, Woman’s Love; or, Kate Wynsley, the Cottage Girl. First performed Royal Victoria Theatre, 12 April 1841. Dicks’ No. 414, I, ii, 5. 70 Michael Mason, The Making of Victorian Sexuality (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1994), 67. Seduced Maidens and Resourceful Maids 29 dastardliness is explained when he is revealed to be the illegitimate oﬀspring of a bigamous second marriage, and his brother, the rightful heir, appears in the nick of time to rescue Julie and send his bastard sibling to the Bastille.
38 Magdalenism, 81. 39 Ibid, 58. For how an assumption of vanity as a motive inﬂuenced analysts’ questioning of prostitutes, see Mariana Valverde, ‘The Love of Finery: Fashion and the Fallen Woman in NineteenthCentury Social Discourse’, Victorian Studies, 32: 2 (Winter, 1989), 168–88. 40 The appeal of this melodramatic model of causation is obvious: it locates responsibility in the individual, in the strength of character which either resists or succumbs to temptation, while marginalizing environmental and economic factors.
Acts of desire: women and sex on stage 1800-1930 by Sos Eltis