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Feminist Disability Studies Goes Goth: The Hyperability of Female Monstrosity in Charlotte Dacre’s Zofloya

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Norma Aceves

University of Florida, at Gainesville, US
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Abstract

This paper discusses Charlotte Dacre’s 1806 text Zofloya, and I argue that the lead character’s monstrosity stems from being constructed as mentally ill and then physically inferior in the text. However, I argue that Victoria’s monstrosity is not a disability, but rather a hyperability in that her strength becomes a threat to patriarchal power. Using a bridge between Barbara Creed’s theory of the monstrous feminine and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson’s intersectional feminist disability theory, I argue that female monstrosity can also be understood as a hyperability. While the heroine, Victoria, may appear to be an able-bodied woman to the reader, the confinement of her body at her aunt’s, her openness about her own sexual desire, and the descriptions of her lover as “inferior” construct Victoria’s body as disabled and sexually deviant by her society. However, I read her later monstrosity—the murders of her lovers and of the servant, Lilla—as an empowering tale of a perceived disabled woman who shows the instability of British social mores and normalcy by subverting them using her perceived monstrosity. Her various acts of rebellion ultimately show that Victoria’s perceived disability is also the source of her empowerment. They show that her perceived disability is a strength she uses as a weapon for destruction.

How to Cite: Aceves, N., 2019. Feminist Disability Studies Goes Goth: The Hyperability of Female Monstrosity in Charlotte Dacre’s Zofloya. Studies in Gothic Fiction, 6(1), pp.19–29. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/sgf.16
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Published on 20 Jan 2019.
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