Playing the Man
Manliness and Mesmerism in Richard Marsh‘s The Beetle
in Gothic Studies
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Through an analysis of Richard Marsh‘s The Beetle (1897), this article explores a link between the practice of mesmerism and Victorian insecurities about the state of masculinity. It argues that The Beetle attempts– through the characterisation of mesmeric power as a dangerous virile energy and suggestibility to trance as effeminate and degenerate– to make a clear but highly unstable distinction between ideal and deviant forms of masculinity. In the process, Marsh‘s novel illuminates a complex relationship between the permeability of mind, body, and nation that paradoxically serves to both uphold and undermine the virility of the British male subject.

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