“Man is not truly one, but truly two”: Victorian Repression of Feminine Monsters in the Gothic Closet

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Snoddy, Sara
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
This thesis examines how, through penetrating social critique, Victorian Gothic writers both commented on and exposed the threats to patriarchal control represented by lesbianism, homosexuality, and the New Woman, three constructs at the center of nineteenth-century sexual anxieties. In Carmilla, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dracula, Gothic monsters represent the threat that homosexuals and the New Woman—the Others—posed to masculinity. This thesis argues that nineteenth-century patriarchal norms constructed homosexuals as dangerous because their sexuality suggested that men could be effeminate and therefore weak. Furthermore, these norms construct aggressive lesbians as threats to men’s social supremacy. By their utilization of vampires and monstrous queer doubles in the primary texts that this study analyzes, it argues that Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Bram Stoker also critiqued and illuminated dangerous effects of Victorian repression.
Victorian Gothic, repression, Gothic monsters, queen theory, Camilla, Dracula, Jekyl and Hyde