Dolls to Slide in Grooves: Performances in Paradoxical Space in Sarah Waters Fingersmith

Akira Suwa

Abstract


In her neo-Victorian novelFingersmith(2002), Sarah Waters sets up the manor house as a place where women have to perform their domestic roles. As one character compares those who live in the house to dolls which slides mechanically in the grooves, the inside of the house is regarded as a space which restrains womens physical and psychological freedom. Although at first the two heroines, Sue and Maud, perform the roles given to them, gradually their pre-determined actions are overtaken by their spontaneous expression of homosexual feelings towards each other. Mauds bedroom, which becomes the place for their first sexual union, then serves to signify their rebellion against heteropatriarchal codes. Also, the place where they are reunited the library which was symbolic of patriarchal authority but is transformed into Mauds workspace for her pornographic literature is what Gillian Rose calls paradoxical space. As it is a space which is still positioned within the boundary of patriarchy and at the same time refuses to be consumed completely in the system, the library space can undermine heteronormativity, holding potential for Sue and Mauds queer utopia. The presence of lesbians within heterosexist society, not their escape from it, can undercut the rigidity of gender and sexuality.


Keywords


Sarah Waters; Fingersmith; Neo-Victorianism; Space; Domestic Confinement, Performance, Heteronormativity, Utopia

Full Text:

PDF

References


Bachelard, Gaston. The Poetics of Space: The Classic Look at How We Experience Intimate Places. trans. Maria Jolas. (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1964).

Butler, Judith. Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory. Theatre Journal. Vol. 40, No. 4 (1988), pp. 519-531.

Castle, Terry. The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993).

Cohen, Annabel J. Film Music from the Perspective of Cognitive Science in David Neumeyer, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Film Music Studies. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 96-130).

Collins, Wilkie. The Woman in White. London: Everymans Library, 1974.

Collins, Wilkie. Basil. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990).

Davies, Helen. Gender and Ventriloquism in Victorian and Neo-Victorian Fiction: Passionate Puppets. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

Faderman, Lillan. Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love between Women from the Renaissance to the Present. (London: The Womens Press, 1981).

Fingersmith. Sally Head Production. Dir. Aisling Walsh. Screenwriter Peter Ransley. 2005.

Gamble, Sarah. I know everything. I know nothing: (Re)Reading Fingersmiths Deceptive Doubles in Kaye Mitchell, ed. Sarah Waters: Contemporary Critical Perspectives. London: Bloomsbury, 2013, pp. 42-55.

Garber, Marjorie. Sex and the Real Estate: Why We Love Houses. (New York: Pantheon Books, 2000).

Heilmann, Ann and Mark Llewellyn. Neo-Victorianism: The Victorians in the Twenty-First Century, 1999-2009. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

Jones, Adele. Disrupting the Continuum: Collapsing Space and Time in Sarah Waters The Night Watch. Journal of Gender Studies. Vol. 23, No. 1 (2014), pp. 32-44.

Letissier, Georges. More Than Kith and Less Than Kin: Queering the Family in Sarah Waters Neo-Victorian Fictions in Marie-Louise Kohlke and Christian Gutleben, eds. Neo-Victorian Families: Gender, Sexual and Cultural Politics. (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2011), pp. 365-394.

Llewellyn, Mark. Breaking the Mould? Sarah Waters and the Politics of Genre in Ann Heilmann and Mark Llewellyn, eds. Metafiction and Metahistory in Contemporary Womens Writing. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), pp. 195-210.

Marcus, Sharon. Between Women: Friendship, Desire and Marriage in Victorian England. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007).

Mitchell, Kate. History and Cultural Memory in Neo-Victorian Fiction: Victorian Afterimages. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

Mitchell, Kaye. Introduction: The Popular and Critical Reception of Sarah Waters in Kaye Mitchell, ed. Sarah Waters: Contemporary Critical Perspectives. (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), pp. 1-15.

Peach, Linden. Masquerade, Crime and Fiction: Criminal Deceptions. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).

Pykett, Lyn. The Sensation Novel from The Woman in White to The Moonstone. (Plymouth: Northcote House, 1994).

Rose, Gillian. Feminism & Geography: The Limits of Geographical Knowledge. (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1993).

Rousselot, Elodie. Introduction: Exoticising the Past in Contemporary Neo-Historical Fiction in Elodie Rousselot ed. Exoticizing the Past in Contemporary Neo-Historical Fiction. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), pp. 1-16.

Schaff, Barbara. On Not Being Mrs Browning: The Revisionist Feminism of Sarah Waters Neo-Victorian Trilogy. Anglistik: International Journal of English Studies. Vol. 24, No. 1 (2013), pp. 63-75.

Schechner, Richard. Performance Theory. (London and New York: Routledge, 1988).

Waters, Sarah. Fingersmith. (London: Virago, 2002).

Wigley, Mark. The Architecture of Deconstruction: Derridas Haunt. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993).


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c)



Postgraduate English is hosted by Durham University, Department of English Studies, UK. Unless otherwise specified, all articles published from 2000-2011 inclusive are copyright Durham University. All articles published from 2012 onwards are copyright of the author(s). All articles from 2012 onwards are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 licence.

Please view the privacy notice for details on how we process your personal data: Privacy Notice.

ISSN: 1756-9761

Durham University