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

Akira Suwa


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.


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

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