In his novels No Name (1862) and Armadale (1866), Wilkie Collins explores the social role of women in Victorian England, a patriarchal society that forced women either to submit to the control of a man or rebel at the expense of their own health and sanity. Even though some of his characters eventually marry, thus conforming to social expectations for women, I argue that his portrayal of female characters was subversive. In quests for control over their own lives, Magdalen Vanstone and Lydia Gwilt turn to masochism and sadism, practices which eventually lead to identity loss and self-destruction. Collins suggests that feminine vengeance is provoked by the corrupt laws of the patriarchal order and relocates the source of danger from female sexuality to the social and legal institutions that oppress women.
The Power of Pain Gender, Sadism, and Masochism in the Works of Wilkie Collins.
Undergraduate Review, 6, 186-193.
Available at: http://vc.bridgew.edu/undergrad_rev/vol6/iss1/34
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