Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10356/59660
Title: The body-city hybrid : gothic transgression in Angela Carter’s novels
Authors: Tan, Fiona Maey Yee
Keywords: DRNTU::Humanities::Literature::English
Issue Date: 2014
Abstract: In this essay, it is discussed that a woman’s desire for self-governance and autonomy is bounded and overly defined by the social and biological definitions that are inextricably circumscribed by her sex. Often times, female bodies serve as vehicles for the oppressor to maintain and perpetuate biologically constructed cultural myths. Thus, the act of transgressing these myths is critical not only as an interrogation of fixed rules and practices, but also in the forming and transforming of the limits around it. Social feminist Donna Haraway states, “…when boundaries – particularly those between animals and humans or between self-controlled, self-governing machines and organisms - become blurred”, the figure of the cyborg, “a powerful social and scientific reality” is formed (359, Prins). It is the hybrid that is the result of transgression, one that contests boundaries and causes opposite beliefs to form an intermix. Haraway’s concept of hybridization has revolutionized our conception of the breaking of boundaries, whereby a “cyborg” is formed with the merging of the opposite political ideas. With the loss of human identity and oppressive forms of gender notions becoming an increasing cause for anxiety, the hybrid falls into place and takes shape in relation to contesting political beliefs. However, with careful usage of the gothic techniques, Carter still eventually proves that gothic themes can be applied advantageously to her feminist texts as well. With Carter’s artificial assemblages of gothic forms, she uses the body and the city as her greatest metaphors to provide insights on the grand narratives that seemingly shape reality and identity. In consequence, she crosses and transgresses the limits surrounding these social, biological and historical embodiments in an attempt to produce significant feminist theories. In this essay, I will be examining these aforementioned issues that I’ve identified in Angela Carter’s The Passion of New Eve (hereafter referred to as TPNE, 1977) and The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman (Hoffman, 1972), evaluating the literary techniques that Carter employs to dissolve the boundaries around the relationship between the body and the city, leading to her final understanding and forming of the hybridized zone. Carter is not interested in the role reversal, or the breaking of patriarchal rules. Rather, by using the art of gothic transgression, she seeks to come to an understanding between the two gendered worlds, and Haraway’s idea of hybridization is the result of her approach to blurring the boundaries. Aware of the postmodernist gothic concepts and its prowess, Carter uses the gothic - the monstrous, the excessive and the transgressive - to portray the relationship between the body and the city. In TPNE and Hoffman, we see that it is through her mythic and gothic writing that she tries to interrogate our version of reality, breaking down the cultural myths that are apparent in our society, albeit through an ironic combination of the myths/anti-mythic novels that breaks down the myths.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10356/59660
Rights: Nanyang Technological University
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:HSS Student Reports (FYP/IA/PA/PI)

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