By Anna Krugovoy Silver
Anna Silver examines the methods nineteenth-century British writers used actual states of the feminine body--hunger, urge for food, fats and slenderness--in the production of lady characters. She argues that anorexia nervosa, first clinically determined in 1873, serves as a paradigm for the cultural excellent of middle-class womanhood in Victorian Britain. Silver makes use of the works of quite a lot of writers (including Charlotte Brontë, Christina Rossetti, Charles Dickens, Bram Stoker and Lewis Carroll) to illustrate that mainstream versions of middle-class Victorian womanhood percentage very important features with the ideals or behaviors of the anorexic girl.
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Additional resources for Victorian Literature and the Anorexic Body (Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture)
Stoker makes use of the notice “voluptuous” again and again in his descriptions of vampire ladies, a note that connotes no longer all girl our bodies, yet speciﬁcally the curvaceous, ﬂeshy physique. while he ﬁrst encounters the 3 vampire ladies, Jonathan Harker instantly notices their “voluptuous lips” (), a metonymic image in their sexual starvation. Later, Van Helsing describes the vampire women’s “swaying around varieties” and, once more, “voluptuous lips” (). Their attractiveness is risky and possibly deadly, for ahead of Van Helsing destroys the ladies on the finish of the unconventional, he's virtually tempted to not accomplish that through their “exquisitely voluptuous” () visual appeal. In Dracula, the ﬂeshy physique is concurrently attractive and hazardous, its good looks finally undercut via the rampant sexuality that it symbolizes. Like Cleopatra in Villette or the prostitute Nana in Zola’s Nana, fats is an indication of woman’s sensual and sexual urge for food, even supposing in Dracula, the “fat” girl turns into no longer in basic terms contemptible yet lethal. Stoker finds one attainable resource for his organization among fats and monstrosity whilst Mina, describing Dracula, tells Van Helsing and Dr. Seward: “The count number is a legal and of legal kind. Nordau and Lombroso might so classify him, and qua felony he's of imperfectly shaped brain” (). Judith Halberstam has convincingly argued that Victorian Literature and the Anorexic physique Stoker drew from Nordau and Lombroso’s theories of degeneracy and illegal activity in his portrait of Dracula, whose actual visual appeal and personality have a lot in universal with anti-Semitic nineteenth-century representations of Jews. besides the fact that, the count number isn't the simply ﬁgure who illustrates many of the assumptions of felony anthropology. within the woman criminal, Lombroso analyzes the physique varieties of girl criminals, concluding, in line with his personal and others’ examine, that: “weight looks extra usually equivalent to or above the medium in thieves and murderesses, yet specially in prostitutes. ” extra speciﬁcally, he elaborates that “ according to cent of girl poisoners, . according to cent of prostitutes, in keeping with cent of girl assassins, and according to cent of girl thieves, have a weight above the typical” (), whereas just a minority of criminals, together with prostitutes, are lower than general weight. Lombroso focuses the main upon the load of prostitutes (arguing that they generally tend to have higher thighs than general women), assuming it an issue of universal wisdom that prostitutes have a tendency towards weight problems: “This larger weight between prostitutes is conﬁrmed through the infamous truth of the weight problems of these who become old of their vile alternate, and who steadily turn into confident monsters of adipose tissues” (). The fats physique, Lombroso argues, is a visual signal of criminal activity or felony developments, in particular indicative of promiscuous sexuality and “unchastity. ” over the top weight is going as far as to show prostitutes into “monsters” of fats. Lombroso blames the meant weight problems of criminals, fairly prostitutes, not only upon their residing and consuming conduct yet upon atavism.