In this presentation, I analyze the transgressive, monstrous female representation by using Victoria's physical and mental degeneration to represent gender politics in Charlotte Dacre's novel, Zofloya. This essay explores the female monster's concept, specifically the femme fatale, while challenging gender roles in Zofloya (1806). With the rise of the novel in the eighteenth century, the feminine conduct novel, or the novel of manners, worked to instill womanhood's societal and cultural norms into young female readers. When a woman deviates from the expectations laid out before her, she becomes abject and monstrous. Victoria subverts these societal norms, and as a result, she becomes mad with a vengeance, and her body becomes masculinized and monstrous. I will use Nancy Hartsock to analyze the concept of male and female gaze theory, perspectives between gender and social class, and the systematic oppression in eighteenth-century society that devalues women's autonomy and knowledge. Serving as a bridge to speak on the monstrous feminine, Barbara Creed's suggests that female's sexuality and empowerment threaten the reliance on the fragile gender roles between men and women. To combat that anxiety, the female must become a physical monster, which can then be defeated by the patriarchal order, or in Victoria's case, Zofloya, the moor.
Professor Lisa Ann Robertson
MacIlravie Canas, Clara A., "Women as Monstrous: An Analysis of Gender in Zofloya" (2021). IdeaFest. 373.