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Incarcerated Women and the Uses of the Gothic

  • A. A. Markley
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Abstract

The dramatic political debates that embroiled the English in the 1790s were not limited to discussions concerning the rights of men alone. In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft famously broke new ground with her controversial A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and inspired similar treatises by other early feminists, such as Mary Hays’s Appeal to the Men of Great Britain in behalf of Women (1798) and Mary Robinson’s A Letter to the Women of England (1799). These writers and others who wished to see a reform of the status of women in contemporary Britain also used the format of the popular novel to draw attention to the ways in which women were oppressed by their domestic duties, by the limited professional options open to them, and by their extremely limited legal status.

Keywords

French Revolution Incarcerate Woman Political Conviction Contemporary Woman Natural Daughter 
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Notes

  1. 4.
    See Eva Figes, Sex and Subterfuge: Women Writers to 185 (New York: Persea Books, 1988), 56–57.Google Scholar
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  11. 19.
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  12. 23.
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  13. 27.
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  14. 28.
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  15. 31.
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  16. 36.
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  17. 45.
    Nancy Johnson discusses Desmon as an ideal and altruistic hero in contrast to Verney in The English Jacobin Novel on Rights, Property, and the La, 71–83. Allison Conway considers his role as a sentimental hero in “Nationalism, Revolution and the Female Body: Charlotte Smith’s Desmon,” Womes Studie 24, no. 5 (1995): 395–409. See also Jones, Radical Sensibilit, 163–67, and Katharine Rogers, “Romantic Aspirations, Restricted Possibilities: The Novels of Charlotte Smith,” In ReVisioning Romanticism: British Women Writers, 1776–183, edited by Carol Shiner Wilson and Joel Haefner (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994), 76–77.Google Scholar
  18. 46.
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  19. Allison Conway analyzes the darker nuances of these parallels in her essay “Nationalism, Revolution and the Female Body,” as does Angela Keane in Women Writers and the English Nation in the 1790s: Romantic Belonging (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 86–90.Google Scholar
  20. 47.
    See Elliott, “Charlotte Smith’s Feminism,” 110–11; Susan Allen Ford, “Tales of the Times: Family and Nation in Charlotte Smith and Jane West,” in Family Matters in the British and American Nove, ed. Andrea O’Reilly Herrera, Elizabeth Mahn Nollen, and Sheila Reitzel Foor (Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Press, 1997), 24–25; and Mellor, Mothers of the Natio, 118–21.Google Scholar
  21. 55.
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  22. 57.
    Julia M. Wright discusses Secres as a “mosaic of the gothic, the romantic, the libertinist, and the didactic (of various ideological stripes) under the general generic rubric of the epistolary” in “‘I Am Ill Fitted’: Conflicts of Genre in Eliza Fenwick’s Secres,” in Romanticism, History and th Google Scholar
  23. 62.
    Malinda Snow develops a related interpretation of Secres in light of England’s growing imperialistic agenda in India in “Habits of Empire and Domination in Eliza Fenwick’s Secres,” Eighteenth-Century Fictio 14, no. 2 (January 2002): 159–75.Google Scholar
  24. 66.
    Colin B. and Jo Atkinson enumerate the novel’s parallels to Evelin in “Maria Edgeworth, Belind, and Women’s Rights,” Eire—Irelan 19, no. 4 (Winter 1984): 97–98. For more on Burney’s influence on Belind see Marilyn Butler, Maria Edgeworth: A Literary Biograph (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), 308–11, and Jane Austen and the War of Idea, 140–44.Google Scholar
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  27. 71.
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  28. 73.
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