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

By Sos Eltis

From seduced maidens to adulterous other halves, bigamists, courtesans, stored girls and streetwalkers, the so-called 'fallen girl' used to be a ubiquitous and enduring determine at the Victorian and Edwardian level. 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 research finds and analyses enduring plot traces and tropes that proceed to steer modern theatre and picture. Women's illicit wants grew to become a theatrical concentration for anxieties and debates surrounding gender roles, women's rights, sexual morality, type clash, economics, eugenics, and feminine employment. The theatre performed a significant function in either developing and tough sexual norms, and plenty of playwrights exploited the ambiguities and implications of functionality to level disruptive spectacles of lady wish, company, power, and resourcefulness, utilizing ingenuity and ability to steer clear of the regulate of that ever watchful nation censor, the Lord Chamberlain.

Covering an spectacular variety of theatrical, social, literary, and political texts, this learn demanding situations the foreign money and validity of the normal severe time period 'the fallen woman', and establishes the centrality of the theatre to cultural and sexual debates during the interval. Acts of Desire encompasses released and unpublished performs, archival fabric, censorship files, and modern reports to bare the wonderful continuities, advanced debates, covert meanings, and exuberant spectacles which marked the background of theatrical representations of lady sexuality. enticing with renowned and 'high artwork' performances, this research additionally finds the important connections among theatre and its sister arts, tracing the trade of impacts among Victorian drama, narrative portray and the radical, and displaying theatre to be an important yet ignored point within the cultural background of women's sexuality.

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John Churchill and Sons: London, 1870), 165. 38 Magdalenism, 81. 39 Ibid, 58. For how an assumption of vanity as a motive influenced analysts’ questioning of prostitutes, see Mariana Valverde, ‘The Love of Finery: Fashion and the Fallen Woman in NineteenthCentury Social Discourse’, Victorian Studies, 32: 2 (Winter, 1989), 168–88. 40 The appeal of this melodramatic model of causation is obvious: it locates responsibility in the individual, in the strength of character which either resists or succumbs to temptation, while marginalizing environmental and economic factors.

54 Once damaged, tragic consequences follow upon her first taste of sexual knowledge: Coleridge, somewhere in his Table Talk, remarks that man’s morality is more dependent on strength of thought, and woman’s on force of feeling and pure instincts. From this it appears to result, that more men than women fall, but that more fallen men recover themselves than fallen women;—that more men than women are reclaimed from vice. ’58 This is the logic that connects the seduced maiden to the tearful courtesan and the suicidal streetwalker; having once taken that first fatal step, the sinful woman lacks the moral agency and active force to recover herself, relying instead on the intervention and commanding force of man.

33 The moral lesson is often explicit: Elinor, in William Travers’s A Poor Girl’s Temptations (1858), who has left her honest home for the luxurious life of a kept woman, is thrown out onto the streets, where, destitute and degraded, she takes poison and begs anyone listening to: ‘Shun I implore you the guilty draught of sinful pleasures, though the cup be crowned with glittering gems. ’34 Melodrama’s representation of the fallen woman—vain and frivolous, seduced, abandoned, and dying horribly, while her aged parents grieve—had a life well beyond the confines of the stage.

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