Placement and displacement : the fallen woman in discourse : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English at Massey University

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Massey University
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This thesis is an invitation to reconsider the process of reading and representing the fallen woman. It combines an eclectic theoretical approach, drawing on works by Foucault, Derrida and Kristeva, with the metaphor of colonisation and the palimpsest. Using this construction, the thesis examines the placement of the fallen woman in discourse. The first section discusses how she falls in discourse, and uses textual and visual examples (predominantly Esther Barton from Gaskell's Mary Barton, Monica Widdowson and Rhoda Nunn from Gissing's The Odd Women). The reading of these figures uncovers three characteristic issues in the fallen woman's representation: her construction as murderer, the 'justice' of her death, and her pornographic interaction with the reader. This examination of the placement of the fallen woman continues in the second section. Here, the thesis explores how representations of her placement in discourse also suggest a displacement--that is, how her fall in discourse is a fall from discourse. Reading her site as a palimpsest of colonising representations uncovers the placement and displacement of the fallen woman in discourse.
19th Century English fiction, Prostitution, Women and literature, Great Britain, Sex role -- In literature, Moral conditions -- In literature, English fiction, History and criticism