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Lady Audley's secret, gender and the representation of emotions
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4960-3251
Luleå tekniska universitet.
2013 (English)In: Women's Writing, ISSN 0969-9082, E-ISSN 1747-5848, Vol. 20, no 4, 441-457 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The relation between gender, emotion and normative ideals is a prominent theme in British sensation fiction of the 1860s, and a central concern in Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s novel Lady Audley’s Secret (1862). But despite critical assent concerning the importance of emotions in the text, there are no focused studies of their meaning and narrative function. This study explores how representations of anger and shame convey gender specificity and how the way characters express and perform emotions interplay with constructions of social power in the novel. Braddon’s work contains more examples of women than men exhibiting signs of anger and more instances of men than women showing shame which means that anger might be understood as female and shame as a male quality in the text. The contexts where these emotions occur indicate the opposite, however. Women displaying anger are shown to transgress gendered conduct codes, whereas men mostly experience shame because of women’s misbehaviour and as their guardians. Although the distribution of instances when male and female characters show anger or shame could initially be understood as a manifestation of the disruptive qualities of the sensation genre, such an interpretation is undermined by the gendered relations between emotional expression, power and control in the novel.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2013. Vol. 20, no 4, 441-457 p.
Keyword [en]
sensation novel, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley's Secret, gender, emotion, anger, shame
National Category
Specific Literatures General Literature Studies General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
English; Literature
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-79664DOI: 10.1080/09699082.2013.823307OAI: diva2:643829
Available from: 2013-08-28 Created: 2013-08-28 Last updated: 2016-05-10Bibliographically approved

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Hansson, Heidi
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