Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Dark desires : a literary and cultural history of domestic murder, 1828-1891
Author: Walsh, Bridget
ISNI:       0000 0004 2706 3378
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2009
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Nineteenth-century newspapers were awash with accounts of sexualized domestic murders which gripped the Victorian cultural imagination. This thesis examines the mediation of these crimes through a range of genres, arguing that the portrayal of domestic murder reflected significant discontent with the codes of behaviour imposed upon sections of society, particularly around the issues of gender and class. The thesis first examines the coverage of domestic murder trials in street literature and newspapers, before moving on to examine how the theatre was enlisted in the depiction of an idealized domestic sphere. The chapter then examines the public disarray at the 1828 trial of William Corder, which reflected a discontent with the constraints imposed within the theatre, and by the ideology of the domestic sphere. Chapter three engages with the debate surrounding the Newgate Novel, examining Sikes in Dickens's Oliver Twist (1838) and the eponymous 'heroine' of Thackeray's Catherine (1840). The ambivalent presentation of both murderers reveals an incongruity between public opinion, fictional representation, and press coverage. Chapter four assesses how debates on models of male behaviour were played out in five novels featuring sexually-motivated acts of violence: Wilkie Collins's Basil (1852), Hardy's Desperate Remedies (1871) and Far From the Madding Crowd (1874), and Dickens's Our Mutual Friend (1865) and The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870). The relationship between desirable male behaviour and the domestic sphere in these novels is shown to be a contested one. Chapter five argues that the ambivalent portrayal of the female domestic murderer at the fin de siecle reflected developments in psychology and the changing relationship between women and the domestic space. The chapter focuses on the trials of Florence Maybrick (1889) and Eleanor Pearcey (1890), and the female domestic murderers in Mona Caird's The Wing of Azrael (1889), Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891) and Ibsen's Hedda Gabler (1890).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available