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 Diane Long Hoeveler

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Registration date : 2010-10-10

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PostSubject: Diane Long Hoeveler   Diane Long Hoeveler EmptySun Nov 21, 2010 1:53 am

Mary's erotic relationships with both Ann and Henry challenge traditional conceptions of the marriage plot. Most of Mary's positive attributes, such as her rationality, her ability to reject convention, and her sexuality would have been read in the eighteenth century as masculine traits. Eliza, Ann, and Henry embody the feminine weakness and passivity, often associated with sentimentality, that Wollstonecraft was criticizing. Although the novel critiques sentimentality, the text appears, in the end, to be unable to resist those very conventions as Mary begins to pine for Henry. Furthermore, the book does not present an alternative way of life for women—it offers only death. Yet, at the same time, the last few lines of the novel hold out the promise of a better world "where there is neither marrying, nor giving in marriage" (emphasis Wollstonecraft's).[21]
As literary scholar Diane Long Hoeveler has demonstrated, Mary is not only a sentimental novel, but, with its emphasis on death, hyperbolic emotion, and persecution, also a gothic novel. Hoeveler identifies in the text what she calls "Gothic feminism", an ideology that values the persecuted heroine above all: it "is not about being equal to men" but rather "about being morally superior to men. It is about being a victim".[22] In other words, Hoeveler argues that the position of victim grants women moral authority. In a Freudian reading, she focuses on how Mary "displaces and projects her own anger and disappointment" onto other characters, such as Ann and Henry.[23] In this interpretation, Ann and Henry become surrogate parents to Mary; she is "unable to move out of her childish identifications with parental figures, and so she just keeps constructing one parent-substitute after another, never being able to accept the demands and realities required for marriage".[24]

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