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Title: Tender scenes, or, The sly rake in petticoats
Author: Fitzer, A. M.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2000
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My thesis considers the way in which the liminal female libertine or rake interrogates and actively disrupts narrative and tender scenes of literature of the mid-to-late eighteenth century. I argue that by unmasking the volatility of tenderness this metaphorically cross-dressed figure negotiates a further exploration of female possibilities, and of representative discourses in the eighteenth-century 'sentimental' romance and novel of sensibility. My consideration of the female rake's evolution as something other than the moral redundant character featured in early eighteenth-century romantic fiction begins with a detailed discussion of Fielding's Amelia. In Chapter one I suggest it is possible to explore a relationship between the obscured vitality of the tender scene and the actual dynamic potential of the relationship between articulations of tenderness, and between the idealised, virtuous heroine and her ostensibly bi-polarised Other. I prove that the very fine line which divides the ethereal object of her affection from her eroticised opposite in fact contravenes other attempts to underline hegemonic discourse in the novel. The subordination of female authority is challenged. My analysis extends from the murky vitality of Fielding's Newsgate scenes to the works of female authors and dramatists of the 1760s. My discussion of Frances Sheridan's Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph in Chapter Two incorporates a study of Oliver Goldsmith's The Vicar of Wakefield. In my third chapter, I consider three novels by Frances Brooke which register the ambivalence of female sensibility and the associated shift in representative terms. I continue my analysis of narrative dissipation with a consideration of the sentimental travelogue and exotic, or oriental, tale. In these novels the female rake emerges as an agent, rather than as a displacement, of the potentially disruptive energies which are also registered in the novels of Sterne and Mackenzie. An analysis of their 'sentimental' narratives concludes my study of the way in which the rake illuminates the contradictions evident in representative discourses of feeling, passion, and desire. By incorporating a study of works by lesser known writers of the 1750s and 1760s, both male and female, I demonstrate that those fissures which appear in the narratives of respected authors can be discerned in a number of novels in this period - novels which celebrate the female libertine's dynamic textual revolution.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available