Gothic and the Rise of Feminism

Armitt, Lucie (2021) Gothic and the Rise of Feminism. In: Volume 3: Gothic in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. The Cambridge History of the Gothic, 3 . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 242-261. ISBN 9781108624268

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There is an inherently Gothic lexicon in Betty Friedan’s landmark feminist study The Feminine Mystique, connecting ‘the problem that has no name’ with the burial alive of the typical 1960s housewife. That language of unspeakable or unnameable enclosure recurs throughout the female Gothic and transcends the perceived disparity between its popular and literary manifestations. Victoria Holt’s popular Gothic Romance, Mistress of Mellyn, is shown to encapsulate just as successfully as more ‘serious’ Gothic texts many of the preoccupying political concerns of second-wave feminism: domestic incarceration, sisterhood, objectification by the masculine gaze, the problematic allure of a ‘Super-Male’. Turning to the literary end of the Gothic spectrum, the essay discusses these themes in Angela Carter’s The Magic Toyshop, ‘The Snow Child’ and ‘The Bloody Chamber’ story; Anne Sexton’s poem ‘Rapunzel’, Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Sarah Waters’s Fingersmith. Thereafter it examines the interface between second and third-wave feminist generations, noting how often, in Gothics, older women continue to be associated with monstrosity or sexual redundancy. Often, in Gothic narratives, women are depicted as the victims of libertine sexuality, violation and coercion, but this essay also explores the role women themselves can and do perform in the patriarchal exploitation of their sisters.

Keywords:Gothic, Feminism, Popular Fiction, Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique, Gothic Romance
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Humanities and Heritage > Lincoln School of Humanities and Heritage (Humanities)
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ID Code:54250
Deposited On:31 May 2023 11:32

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