The Marked Body: Domestic Violence in Mid-Nineteenth-Century by Kate Lawson, Lynn Shakinovsky

By Kate Lawson, Lynn Shakinovsky

Discusses portrayals of household violence in six significant works of mid-nineteenth-century literature.

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6 In this sense, the narrator is as cruel as the protagonist whose tale he tells. The point of view of the narrator (a concept expressed significantly in terms of the language of looking) is closer to Aylmer’s than he cares to reveal. The narrator’s collusion with Aylmer profoundly furthers the sense that is so prevalent in the story as a whole—that there is no space in which Georgiana could independently function. ” Since the traumatic event constitutes itself as “a stain which blurs our clear perception of it,” a trauma is always redoubled into the traumatic event “in itself,” and into the trauma of its symbolic inscription.

The description of her crippled state that follows is, however, almost clinically accurate: She had fallen, she said, in ascending a ruin, and had fatally injured the sinews of her knee; so fatally, that when she stood she Domestic Violence, Abjection, and the Comic Novel 47 lost eight inches of her accustomed height; so fatally, that when she essayed to move, she could only drag herself painfully along, with protruded hip and extended foot, in a manner less graceful than that of a hunchback. (66) In a novel that seems to range between sentimental comedy and bold satire, this description of Madeline Neroni’s disability is a rather shocking one for the reader.

Slope makes it clear that the 44 The Marked Body true enemies of the church are internal: “It is not the dissenters or the papists that we should fear, but the set of canting, low-bred hypocrites who are wriggling their way in among us” (39). Although the schism that threatens the integrity of the Church of England concerns the relative merits of the new and the traditional, the content of the debate focuses on issues of purity and impurity—of deciding what the “rubbish” is that must be discarded.

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