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Title page for ETD etd-06302011-171927

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Ingrisani, Emma
URN etd-06302011-171927
Title "An irresistible propensity to play with him": Torment and Delight in Our Mutual Friend
Degree Master of Arts
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Michael Kreyling Committee Chair
  • victorian heroines
  • psychoanalysis
Date of Defense 2011-06-30
Availability unrestricted
Charles Dickens’s novels are full of instances of parental inversion, in which cruel or hapless (and usually male) parents are cared for by their far more capable (and typically female) children. Our Mutual Friend features many such father-daughter relationships, with one exception: that of Bella Wilfer and her father. Bella does not so much take care of her father as discipline him—playfully, but also very physically. The violence of this physicality becomes the means of an erotics of sadomasochism between father and daughter, as “Pa” Wilfer gleefully submits to Bella’s mock-serious reprimands and aggressive manhandling. This paper explores the psychology of Bella’s and Wilfer’s dynamic in relation to pre-Freudian theories of sexuality, Victorian material culture studies, and current critical discourses on Our Mutual Friend.
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