Reading Extremities in Orra and De Monfort

At the time of their publication, Joanna Baillie‘s dramas were considered to be works of genius in their sustained and powerful fixation on one of the several possible human passions. In their very focus on these intense emotions, however, the plays actually reified the dangers inherent in the extremes of human passion. In other words, by fixing her attention on the passions, Baillie revealed that the emotions she was supposedly focused on often masked other, even more powerful desires. Thus, in Orra fear is the result of the heroines hatred of male dominance, while in De Monfort hatred is shown to be the symptom of incestuous love. But what has not been noticed about Baillie‘s plays is their almost obsessive interest in dead, abjected male bodies. Both plays present a very gothic vision of the indestructible patriarchy, an uncanny phallic power that cannot die, that persistently resurrects and feeds on itself or the legends that it has constructed.

Gothic Studies
Wollstonecraft‘s Mary and Gothic Feminism

Hoeveler argues that Wollstonecraft in The Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) was working within a male dominated tradition of Enlightenment values, and that consequently her views are coloured by an implicit adherence to this tradition. Hoeveler suggests that this adherence is confirmed by Wollstonecraft‘s Mary, A Fiction (1788) which provides a sentimental celebration of the passive and weak Female Gothic heroine. Hoeveler argues that such a celebration of passivity has had a deleterious effect on feminism by encouraging women to see themselves as victims as a means, paradoxically, of gaining empowerment.

Gothic Studies
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Gothic Studies
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Gothic Studies
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Gothic Studies