Sublime Patriarchs and the Problems of the New Middle Class in Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian
In Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian, the sublime in nature represents a benevolent patriarchy which works in tandem with ‘the heightened awareness’ that characterizes sensibility in order to educate and empower Emily St Aubert and Ellena di Rosalba. Both of these forces work symbiotically within the gazes (read ‘spectatorship’) of the heroines. Conversely, these forces are threatening to the heroes, in that they limit Valancourt's and Vivaldi's ability to gain their desires and to influence the events surrounding their beloveds. This gender-based disparity reflects eighteenth century familial politics and suggests that, despite Radcliffe's apparent protofeminism in giving her heroines agency over the patriarchal weapons of the sublime and sensibility, her reinventing these forces to empower her heroines at the expense of the heroes actually buys into and supports patriarchal ideals of the roles of difference and sameness in heterosexual desire.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Raritan Valley Community College
Publication date: 2010-05-01
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