“Not a muscle at my command”: Mesmeric Trance, Consent, and# MeToo in Richard Marsh

Bhattacharjee, Shuhita (2020) “Not a muscle at my command”: Mesmeric Trance, Consent, and# MeToo in Richard Marsh. Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, 16 (2). pp. 1-17.

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I had... taken out that plum-coloured cloak...[T] he blood with which it was soaked, as it dried, had glued the folds together... And the stiffness was horrible. When one reflected with what it has been stiffened, and how, and when, and associated with the reflection that fair-faced girl, with truth in her voice and innocence in her eyes, one wondered.(Marsh, The Goddess: A Demon 55) < 1> The fin-de-siècle imperial gothic narrative is all too familiar, marked by tremulous uncertainty and paralyzing fear surrounding the figure of a foreign and criminal mesmerist and the bloody sexual violence the figure unleashes. Richard Marsh’s The Beetle: A Mystery (1897) and The Goddess: A Demon (1900) are preoccupied with sexual violence as perpetrated across variable gender, racial, and species boundaries, and they stage the violence of the attack through the mesmeric incapacitation of the victim by the violator. In this essay, I argue that mesmerism, or hypnotism, functions in the texts as a metaphor for the uncontestable power hierarchies that undergird the professional and social space, structuring it in ways that make any kind of performance of consent—the granting or the withholding/refusing of it—impossible at the very outset, much like the hypnotic trance that leaves the hypnotized incapable of free self-willed action. That is, the mesmeric paralysis of the victim represents the unavailability of the very space of consent to the hierarchical inferior in an unequal relationship—the kind that typically populates our workspaces and social structures. Further, this image of hypnotic incapacitation demonstrates the complexity and apparent inscrutability of a situation

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IITH Creators:
IITH CreatorsORCiD
Bhattacharjee, Shuhitahttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-9289-3157
Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: muscle ,Mesmeric Trance,#MeToo
Subjects: Arts > Liberal arts
Divisions: Department of Liberal Arts
Depositing User: . LibTrainee 2021
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2022 09:47
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2022 09:47
URI: http://raiith.iith.ac.in/id/eprint/10584
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