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

By Sos Eltis

From seduced maidens to adulterous better 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 degree. Acts of Desire strains the theatrical illustration of illicit girl 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 learn finds and analyses enduring plot strains and tropes that proceed to steer modern theatre and picture. Women's illicit wishes 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 imperative function in either developing and hard sexual norms, and plenty of playwrights exploited the ambiguities and implications of functionality to degree disruptive spectacles of lady wish, organization, strength, and resourcefulness, utilizing ingenuity and ability to steer clear of the regulate of that ever watchful country censor, the Lord Chamberlain.

Covering an unbelievable diversity of theatrical, social, literary, and political texts, this examine demanding situations the forex and validity of the common 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 Acts of Desire encompasses released and unpublished performs, archival fabric, censorship files, and modern stories to bare the excellent continuities, complicated debates, covert meanings, and exuberant spectacles which marked the heritage of theatrical representations of woman sexuality. enticing with well known and 'high artwork' performances, this examine additionally unearths the 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 an important yet overlooked aspect within the cultural historical past of women's sexuality.

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The depth of his 69 T. E. Wilks, Woman’s Love; or, Kate Wynsley, the Cottage Girl. First performed Royal Victoria Theatre, 12 April 1841. Dicks’ No. 414, I, ii, 5. 70 Michael Mason, The Making of Victorian Sexuality (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1994), 67. Seduced Maidens and Resourceful Maids 29 dastardliness is explained when he is revealed to be the illegitimate offspring of a bigamous second marriage, and his brother, the rightful heir, appears in the nick of time to rescue Julie and send his bastard sibling to the Bastille.

Footsteps heard— latch moved ) It is Job! he has returned! Job! Job! my husband! (Rushes up stage but recoils with a cry of terror as Gilbert Featherstone appears) Gilbert Featherstone! gilbert: Nelly! (He advances—she retreats) nelly: No! No! Not a step further! I implore! I entreat! (She staggers—is about to swoon—Gilbert springs forward and catches her in his arms) gilbert: Nelly! 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.

Great Social Evil, 162. Magdalenism, 73. Great Social Evil, 132. Magdalenism, 170, 73. 49 Despite the demonstrable absence of thousands of prostitutes dying on the streets, moral reformers insisted on the terrible fate of the fallen as part of an ideological framework which underpinned the urgency of their recommendations for better religious instruction and improved funding for magdalen asylums. Even William Greg, whose long article on prostitution in the Westminster Review in 1850 took a pragmatic and factually based approach to the issues, still clung stubbornly to the idea of inevitable and rapid decline.

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