How Does The Gothic Represent Sexuality British Literature Essay

Changes in intimate mores from the center to the end of the nineteenth century can be followed to a variety of causes: the development of industry, and the next mass migration of populations to metropolitan areas; changes in course mobility and associations; capitalism; and social and intellectual reactions to these changes. These public conditions resulted in "a continuous battle over this is of acceptable intimate behavior within the framework of changing class and power relationships" (Weeks 23).

The Strange Circumstance of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a dual narrative in which the homosocial literal wording anxiously evades a homosexual subtext; this is a doubling like that of Robert Louis Stevenson who obviously led his own two times life. It really is a book of disguises and secrets, secrets both vigorously pursued and vigorously concealed, unuttered secrets.

As the book opens, Stevenson explains Mr. Utterson as, "The past good influence in the lives of downgoing men" (Stevenson 3). In Twin Talk, Wayne Koestenbaum examines this particular phrase within the framework of nineteenth-century usage. "The word 'pity', known in the 1890's to indicate homosexuality has particular relevant to 'heading downward', for men who go down are guilty or moral drop and fellatio. As with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which mentions illicit 'down-going men', the cultural trajectory of downfall signifies a reputation ruined by homosexuality" (147).

The narrative of Jekyll and Hyde both supports and subverts cultural class, gender/sexuality beliefs. Henry Jekyll, who, combined with Edward Hyde is the novel's queer figure, acts as an anomaly in the homosocial world of British professional men. Outwardly an effective, respectable medical professional, Jekyll harbours certain "appetites" for "secret pleasures" (Stevenson 91), which arouse in him a "morbid sense of pity" (Stevenson 78). Jekyll, tortured by the struggle between the two incongruous areas of his personality, feels that for him joy lies in splitting the shameful, key part into a separate entity: "If each, I told myself, could be housed in different identities, life would be relieved of most that was intolerable" (Stevenson 80). To carefully indulge his unnamed wants, Jekyll creates, or even more effectively, released Hyde who functions as both Jekyll's double and his disguise. Jekyll, separated aside yet not entirely independent, secretly witnesses Hyde's behaviour, which he explains as selfish, once in a while sadistic, "monstrous" but also recognises as "my vicarious depravity" (Stevenson 86).

Stevenson believed that a part of the Victorian reading open public understood his to have a sexual subtext from the point of its publication. Irving Saposnik estimates Stevenson in decidedly negative respond to such readings:

Hyde was the younger of both. He was notGreat Gods! Only voluptuary. There is no harm in a voluptuary; and none, with my hand on my heart and soul and in the look of God, nothing - no damage whatever in what prurient fools call 'immorality'. The injury is at Jekyll, because he was a hypocrite - not because he was fond of women; he says so himself, but people are so packed with folly and inverted lust, that they can think of only sexuality. (98)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is in fact about Jekyll's hypocrisy rather than Hyde's lust; people who give it a sexual reading are projecting their own "inverted lust" onto the storyline, and interesting choice of words in its historical connotations - at the time, many writers were using the word "inversion" to describe homosexuality and other "deviant gender behaviour" (Halperin 15-17). Behind Stevenson's criticisms is his disdain for the mechanised reductionism of reading his representation of complicated human psychology in terms of mere physical behaviours. Those mere physical behaviours should be seen as symptoms of greater, more widespread and human being problems. One particular more universal types of understanding responding to such a set of problems was the creation of erotic identity in medico-juridical and ethnic discourse. 64 Eve Kosovsky Sedgwick outlines the necessity of homosexuality as a signifier to the engineering of heteronormativity, the value of homophobia - "homosexual panic" - in the policing of male-homosocial associations (Between Men 89). Likewise, the authorised reading of Hyde foregrounds his importance for determining Jekyll's problem. What's Hyde then? Matching to Saposnik:

he represents the shadow aspect of man which civilization has striven to submerge: he is a creature of primitive sensibilities loosed after a global bent on denying him. A reminder of the barbarism that underlies civilization, he is a necessary component of human mindset which almost all of us would like to leave unrealised (98).

If this interpretation appears to the reader like the two-headed monster of homosexuality and homophobia appearing into Victorian awareness from the void or repression, then we would do well to keep in mind that the have difficulty between sexual and non-sexual readings of the story, with its attendant reification of late-Victorian, cultural-imperialist notions of duality, is in many ways authorised not only by the impulses of the author and the canonical critic, but by the impulses of the written text itself.

After getting together with Hyde, Utterson muses that he "must have secrets of his own; dark-colored secrets by the appearance of him; secrets in comparison to which Jekyll's most detrimental would be like sunshine" (Stevenson 21). Hyde's "black secrets", although unnamed, seem at least partly to be intimate and are, of course, concurrently Henry Jekyll's "appeties" for "magic formula pleasures". Socially produced standards of behavior define normality and deviance are essential when contemplating secrets in Jekyll and Hyde.

Vladimir Nabokov records the observation by Steven Gwynn that the novel takes place in an environment of bachelors, in a global devoid of women (at least as far as the energies of signification are worried). Nabokov suggests two things relating to this phenomenon and the way that it structures the behavior of the characters in the novel. Is that "Victorian reticence" wouldn't allow any longer specificity about this pleasures of Jekyll, those Hyde perverts and makes monstrous, and this Stevenson, "not desperate to bring colors in to the tale alien to its monkish style, consciously refrained from inserting a painted feminine mask upon the secret pleasures where Jekyll indulged" (194). Quite simply, the causes of Victorian morality, or middle-class ideology, regarding the representability of sex and sexuality in fiction help to bolster the shadowy mother nature of the representation of any "evil" in a book about the sinning, shadow aspect of human personality. Both Stevenson and the middle-class, Victorian polity need the shadows and the monsters they create. Stephen D. Arata says: "[t]he novel changes the discourses centuring on degeneration, atavism, and criminality back again on the professional classes that produced them, linking gentlemanliness and bourgeois virtue to various kinds of depravity" (244).

Nabokov's second point - moreover in today's context - is the fact relatively safe skirt chasing by a grubby old man could have rendered the transformation into Hyde silly (an echo of Stevenson's early comment about Hyde not being "a mere voluptuary"):

if Stevenson had gone so far as Tolstoy got in depicting the light loves of Oblonski, the French young lady, the singer, the little ballerina, etc. it could have been artistically very hard to own Jekyll-Oblonski exude a Hyde. A certain amiable, jovial, and lighthearted tension running through the pleasures of any gay cutting tool would then have been difficult to reconcile with the medieval growing as a dark-colored scarecrow against a livid sky in the guise of Hyde. 68 (194).

From his own privileged twentieth-century position, Nabokov suggests of Jekyll and Hyde that the absence of any motivating factor - "It was safer for the artist not to be specific also to leave the pleasures of Jekyll undescribed" - is an alibi, denoting "a certain weakness in the artist (194). He continues:

Hyde is called Jekyll's protg and his benefactor, but you can be puzzled by the implication of another epithet mounted on Hyde, that of Henry Jekyll's favorite, which appears almost like minion. The all-male design that Gwynn has described may suggest with a twist of thought that Jekyll's travels were homosexual tactics so common in London behind the Victorian veil. Utterson's first supposition is that Hyde blackmails the nice doctor - which is hard to assume what special grounds for blackmailing would there were in a bachelor's consorting with women of light morals. Or do Utterson and Enfield suspect that Hyde is Jekyll's illegitimate kid? "Paying for the capers of his youngsters" is exactly what Enfield suggests. But the difference in age as implied by the difference in the look of them does not seem to be quite sufficient for Hyde to be Jekyll's boy. In addition, in his will Jekyll calling Hyde his "friend and benefactor", a wondering selection of words perhaps bitterly ironic but barely referring to a boy (194).

Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market", printed the same calendar year as W. R. Greg's "What makes Women Redundant?", offers a view of an extremely different family portrait of unmarried women and shows that their mental ties may in truth become more central and sustaining than relationship - even following the female personas, Laura and Lizzie, have wedded and become mothers. Even though Laura and Lizzie aren't themselves surplus women by the conclusion of the poem, their biological sisterhood is the foundation for their substitute community, a "female world of love and ritual", to make use of Carol Smith-Rosenberg's expression, that provides psychological support and eroticism that appears to be quite set apart from middle-class matrimony.

In "Goblin Market", the vagaries of industry can be dangerous. Laura succumbs to the goblin cry to "come buy our orchard fruits, /Come buy, come buy" (collection 1-4), and after eating the goblin fruit, soon starts off to waste materials away. As Lizzie contemplates going to the goblin men in order to save her sister, she recalls their young friend Jeanie, and the results of her illicit "coming by" to visit the goblins:

She thought of Jeanie in her grave,

Who should have been a bride-to-be;

But who for joys brides desire to have

Fell suffering and died

In her gay perfect. (306-310)

With its resonances about "fallen women" and the hazards of loitering, you can read this as a caution story to young women to maintain their virginity lest they damage their chances of becoming bourgeois wives. Women who do not heed the caution that "twilight is not good for maidens" and "loiter in the glen/In the haunts of goblin men" (144-145) also run the chance to become prostitutes. Leighton creates that both Laura and Lizzie "loiter and appearance, in a gesture that combines an enchanting hovering on the threshold of peculiar knowledge with the purposeful wait of the streetwalker" (236). Jeanie's fatality raises a number of questions: does the poem claim that she was, in simple fact, engaged, positioned to become bride, but that her liaison with goblin men was found out, and for that reason made a "respectable" matrimony impossible? Lizzie's fear that she herself might "pay too dear" (311) underscores this opportunity. Or, perhaps "for joys brides hope to have" advises not conjugal making love, but rather the institution of marriage itself: in which case one might glean that it was in truth an impending relationship that wiped out off Jeanie "in her gay prime". Whether Jeanie's death is due to pre-marital intimacy or an expected marriage, the poem shows that the relationship market is an inhospitable and even lethal place for women.

Unwilling to sacrifice her sister to the same fate as Jeanie, Lizzie submits herself to the goblins in the wish of obtaining the fruit drinks for her sister in a world that is little or nothing short of an attempted gang rape. Although Lizzie is covered with "goblin dew", the fact that she has not need penetrated in the encounter (she "Wouldn't normally open lip from lip/ Lest they have to cram a mouthful in" (431-432)) shows that she has prevented a metaphorical erotic violation. Lizzie stages a resistance to a particular market of desire, violence, and commodification: she refuses to succumb to the goblins' obtain a "golden lock of wild hair" (an explicit corporeal exchange for the goblin fruit), and she never presents the gold coin that she bears in her pocket on her way to the glen (presumably the medium of exchange that would mitigate such a body offering). As Angela Leighton writes: "By not paying, Lizzie tips the market and resists not really much the berry as the law where the fruit converts to poison because, Rossetti appears to say, goblins made the law" (353). In other words, Lizzie's subversion of the goblin market means that she will have the ability to transmit the fruit drinks to Laura as a restorative chemical because she has refused a particular style of buying, reselling, and utilization.

Lizzie profits to Laura, who pines away in their cottage and hovers close to the brink of fatality. Lizzie declares:

"Come and kiss me.

Never mind my bruises,

Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices

Squeezed from goblin fruits for you,

Goblin pulp and goblin dew.

Eat me, drink me, love me;

Laura, make much of me:

For your sake I have braved the glen

And revolved around goblin product owner men. " (466-474)

Indeed, it is Lizzie's (erotic) involvement that will save Laura from Jeanie's destiny, and results in "life out of fatality" for both of the sisters: for Laura because she is preserved from a seeming literal fatality, for Lizzie because her metaphorical death as a result of the goblins restores life to her sister, as well as for both in the kind of "little loss of life" invoked in this organsmic and even post-coital resurrection field.

After Laura has imbibed the juices, the poem is interrupted and its pace is slowed up with: "Pleasure previous and anguish former. / Could it be death or is it life? Life out of fatality (ll. 522-524). These juxtapositions of pleasure/anguish, death/life are reminiscent of Lacan's use of the word jouissance. Allan Sheridan, the translator of Lacan's ‰crits, records that:

There is not any enough translation in British of this expression. 'Pleasure' conveys the sense, contained in jouissance, of enjoyment of rights, of property, etc. Sadly, in modern English, the term has lost the intimate connotations it still retains in France (Jouir is slang for 'to come'). 'Pleasure', on the other hands, is pre-empted by 'plaisir' - and Lacan uses both terms quite diversely. 'Pleasure' obeys the law of homeostasis that Freud evokes in 'Beyond the Pleasure Theory', whereby, through release, the psyche seeks the cheapest possible level of pressure. 'Jouissance' transgresses this laws and, due to that, it is beyond that pleasure concept (x).

Sheridan's gloss illustrates the elusive dynamics of the word: it signs presence and absence, pleasure and danger. Breaking down the restrictions between "self" and "other", jouissance signs the dissolution of the do it yourself as a subject's id mergers with (an)other. Unsettling and destablising, jouissance is "beyond the pleasure principle" since it may also sign the death of the subject, the ultimate disintegration of the personal.

The exchange between Lizzie and Laura, presented as a sensual and consensual exchange, stands in stark distinction to Lizzie's assault at the hands of the goblins. Lizzie's transmitting of the "goblin pulp and goblin dew" seems to resuscitate: presumably due to its consensual character, and also since it can be an exchange that remains solidly within the local sphere. Here they are taken off the vagaries of the marketplace, and much more specifically, from any connection with the goblins who are cast as foreign, exotic, and suspect. The colonial subtext of the poem, as Richard Menke points out, is designated by "quasi-exotic goblins, citrons from the South, and [the] defense of the local against the international" (134). These characterisations level a sort of confrontation in the poem between your ideas of "home" and "abroad", and an extremely specific essential that young women shouldn't enter (market and/or intimate) exchanges with "foreign" men. Menke carries on to state that "[i]nsofar as the goblin men and their goods are identifiable with the international, they plainly threaten Lizzie and Laura, whose daily work of milking cows, cleaning house, and getting ready food confirms their strong affiliation with the domestic" (118). According to the logic of the poem, Laura's resurrection must take place within the clearly demarcated limitations of the sisters' domestic sphere.

Both books contain traces of sexuality: Jekyll and Hyde talks about secrets and 'Goblin Market' illustrates that a sisterly romantic relationship can have lesbian connotations.

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