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Title: History, power and monstrosity from Shakespeare to the fin de siècle
Author: Roberts, Evan David
Awarding Body: Swansea University
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis examines the historical significance of literary representations of monsters and monstrosity over several centuries, in the belief that literary monstrosity is symptomatic of wider anxieties concerning contemporary fears of historical change during periods of potentially revolutionary social upheaval. This leads to the conclusion that history itself thus becomes monstrous, through symbolising a disruptive, chaotic, and above all uncanny return of such repressed fears from the monstrous past of the British bourgeoisie. My first chapter examines how Renaissance authors such as William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe and John Milton use monstrosity to depict a nascent bourgeoisie's fears of increasing royal and aristocratic tyranny. Following this, my second chapter investigates how the Monster becomes an overdetermined cultural sign of revolutionary historical change in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Bram Stoker's Dracula is discussed in my third chapter, with fears of monstrous foreign invaders showing the fin-de-siecle bourgeoisie as haunted, both by their horrific past, and by a future loss of power to radical historical forces represented above all by the monstrous New Woman. In my fourth chapter, H.G. Wells's scientific romances embody the finde- siecle bourgeoisie's unease at their increasing dependence upon monstrous science to maintain their power, especially since its military applications would soon bleed their empire dry in the First World War. My fifth chapter, meanwhile, explains how monstrous criminals in texts by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson and Oscar Wilde show the irruption of uncanny history into the ideological self-image of the fin-de-siecle social order. I shall then conclude by reaffirming the contribution that all this makes to advancing the study of monstrosity, and in particular to exploring connections between history and the monstrous.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available