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Dickens's VillainsMelodrama, Character, Popular Culture$
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Juliet John

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198184614

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198184614.001.0001

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Sincerely Deviant Women

Sincerely Deviant Women

(p.199) 8 Sincerely Deviant Women
Dickens's Villains

Juliet John (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses wicked women in the 19th-century theatre, including the subversive roles and role-players. It demonstrates that the 19th-century theatre can serve as an illuminating context for a sophisticated understanding of Dickens's novelistic women — a context at least as helpful as the familiar biographical story of Dickens's involvement with Mary Hogarth and his personal enthusiasm for young, virginal, and virtuous girls. The author contends that Dickens could divorce neither his conscious understanding nor his subconscious, creative imagination from the models of womanhood he encountered in the 19th-century theatre. This chapter concentrates on the bad women of melodrama — and those women in Dickens's novels that derive from them — rather than the comic types of traditional farce or the fantastical types of pantomime because the raw materials of melodrama — passion, theatricality, and moral polarity/certainty — must be fascinatingly distorted to accommodate the deviant woman.

Keywords:   theatre, Charles Dickens, novelistic women, Mary Hogarth, melodrama, deviant woman

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