Abstract

Vital parts of the narrative of Maria Edgeworth’s Belinda (1801) hinge on the disastrous personal consequences that attend one woman’s caricaturing of another. Critics, however, have yet to pay attention to graphic satire in their readings of this novel. In this article, I offer a close reading of the key episode in Belinda in which Lady Delacour caricatures Mrs Luttridge, a satirical act that leads to a duel and, subsequently, to Lady Delacour sustaining a seemingly cancerous wound to her breast. I apply critical pressure to the representation of graphic satire as a gendered cultural practice, a “masculine” discourse that offers another means by which Lady Delacour transgresses the mores of polite womanhood. In particular, I consider the specific significance of introducing caricature—a form that deals in a grammar of physiognomic distortion and disfigurement, and in which bodies, not least women’s bodies, are invested with complex moral and political symbolism—into a scene that culminates in the infliction of injury and into a novel that is centrally concerned with the vexed relations between a woman and her body.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1911-0243
Print ISSN
0840-6286
Pages
pp. 593-624
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-31
Open Access
No
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