Download Acts of desire: women and sex on stage 1800-1930 by Sos Eltis PDF

By Sos Eltis

From seduced maidens to adulterous better halves, bigamists, courtesans, stored ladies and streetwalkers, the so-called 'fallen girl' used to be a ubiquitous and enduring determine at the Victorian and Edwardian degree. Acts of Desire lines the theatrical illustration of illicit lady sexuality from early nineteenth-century melodramas, via sensation dramas, Ibsenite sex-problem performs and suffrage dramas, to early social realism and the well-made performs of Pinero, Jones, Maugham, and Coward. This examine finds and analyses enduring plot strains and tropes that proceed to steer modern theatre and picture. Women's illicit wishes turned a theatrical concentration for anxieties and debates surrounding gender roles, women's rights, sexual morality, classification clash, economics, eugenics, and feminine employment. The theatre performed a critical function in either developing and hard sexual norms, and lots of playwrights exploited the ambiguities and implications of functionality to degree disruptive spectacles of woman wish, organisation, power, and resourcefulness, utilizing ingenuity and talent to circumvent the keep watch over of that ever watchful country censor, the Lord Chamberlain.

Covering an stunning diversity of theatrical, social, literary, and political texts, this research demanding situations the foreign money and validity of the original serious time period 'the fallen woman', and establishes the centrality of the theatre to cultural and sexual debates in the course of the interval. Acts of Desire encompasses released and unpublished performs, archival fabric, censorship documents, and modern experiences to bare the miraculous continuities, complicated debates, covert meanings, and exuberant spectacles which marked the heritage of theatrical representations of girl sexuality. attractive with renowned and 'high paintings' performances, this learn additionally finds the very important connections among theatre and its sister arts, tracing the alternate of impacts among Victorian drama, narrative portray and the radical, and exhibiting theatre to be a very important yet missed aspect within the cultural background of women's sexuality.

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Sample text

Reckless : Precisely. Her eye flashed fire, and she turned upon me a look of ineffable and most decided contempt. 23 Such a blunt equation of economic and sexual vulnerability was rare. Poverty and necessity did not drive heroines to sell their virtue. Indeed, melodramatic virtue is impregnable to the most adverse of social and economic circumstances. 24 True female virtue is unassailable. In Dion Boucicault’s The Poor of New York (first performed in New York in 1857, and subsequently retitled for performance in Dublin, Liverpool, London or any other suitable location), both the heroine and her mother, starving and unable to find work, attempt suicide in order to relieve their family of their upkeep.

Reprinted in Fisher, Prostitution and the Victorians, 30–3. 65 Letter to the Times (24 February 1858), quoted in Fisher, 41. 66 Poor of New York, V, iii, 21. Seduced Maidens and Resourceful Maids 27 Boucicault shows New York in the grip of financial speculation, its economic depression the result of widespread gambling on prospects in a society where money alone buys status. In the context of such a profit-driven society, the sufferings of the poor and the sexual vulnerability of the heroine can be read as the consequences of a widespread failure of social responsibility.

Dear Nelly! (He places her in chair. )30 Next discovered on dreary moorland, wrapped in a shawl, Nelly wishes to return home but Gilbert declares it too late, picks her up and forces her off to a waiting chaise, just as her friend Giddy Dragglethorpe rushes breathlessly into view. Nelly’s physical helplessness and the repeated failure of a last-minute rescue combine not only to blur the lines between abduction and seduction, but also imply that the responsibility for safeguarding a tempted woman lies outside her own inadequate hands.

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