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Fairy Tales and Necrophilia: A New Cultural Context for Antebellum American Sensationalism


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FAIRY TALES AND NECROPHILIA: A NEW CULTURAL CONTEXT FOR ANTEBELLUM AMERICAN SENSATIONALISM By ROBIN JEAN GRAY NICKS A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2006

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Copyright 2006 by Robin Jean Gray Nicks

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iii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS First, I want to express my gratitude to David Leverenz for reading and commenting on endless drafts, encouraging me when I was on the verge of breakdown, and pushing me to take my analysis to the ne xt level. I also a ppreciate the support and comments from Marsha Bryant, Kenneth Kidd, and Louise Newman. I simply could not have dreamed of a better committee. Thank you to the staff of the New York Public Library. They helped me find primary sources and filled me in on seem ingly trivial information about why some sources were nearly impossible to track dow n. They went above and beyond the call of duty, and without their help and interest th is project would have been impossible. I want to thank my parents for instilling in me a love of education and for indulging my love of books, even when it was financiall y difficult. Finally, I want to thank my husband for his unending support and encouragemen t. I would not have finished without him.

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iv TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iii LIST OF FIGURES.............................................................................................................v ABSTRACT.......................................................................................................................vi CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 2 BEFORE DISNEY: READING PEDOPHI LIA, INCEST, AND NECROPHILIA IN CLASSIC FAIRY TALES....................................................................................11 3 FROM THE FAIRY TALE PRINCESS TO THE NEW YORK PROSTITUTE: SLEEPING BEAUTY AND THE BIG CITY............................................................36 4 NECROPHILIA AND INCEST IN POE: THE REVENGE OF THE DEADUNDEAD WOMAN..................................................................................................67 5 SUBVERTING CAPITALISM, SUBVER TING FAIRY TALES: WICKED WITCHES AND LIBIDINOUS BEAUTIES IN GEORGE LIPPARDS THE QUAKER CITY.........................................................................................................99 6 REINFORCING THE FAIRY TALE: PRETENDED SUBVERSION IN GEORGE THOMPSONS FICTION.......................................................................132 7 CONCLUSION.........................................................................................................162 LIST OF REFERENCES.................................................................................................168 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH...........................................................................................175

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v LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2-1 Illustration for Sleeping Beauty from R. S. Gents 1795 translation of Perraults Tales of Passed Times with Morals by Mother Goose ............................27 2-2 George Cruikshanks illustra tion for the Grimms Brier Rose.............................28 3-1 Ellen Jewett. Al fred M. Hoffys rendering of Helen Jewetts corpse..................47

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vi Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy FAIRY TALES AND NECROPHILIA: A NEW CULTURAL CONTEXT FOR ANTEBELLUM AMERICAN SENSATIONALISM By Robin Jean Gray Nicks May 2006 Chair: David Leverenz Major Department: English My dissertation investigates an understudied area of Am erican sensational fiction in the antebellum periodthe influence of fa iry tales. I trace the development of a literary fascination with wome ns bodies from the fairy tales of Giambattista Basile, Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm thr ough the media coverage of the 1836 murder of prostitute Helen Jewett, through the short fiction and poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, and finally through the porno-gothic literature of George Lippard and George Thompson. I argue that the English translations of Basiles, Perrault's and Grimms' fairy tales laid the cultural groundwork that encouraged a fasc ination with women's dead bodies and the seemingly necrophilic, incestuous, and pedophilic desires demonstrated in the American publics fascination with Jewett's murder and the popularity of an tebellum sensational fiction. My argument maintains that each subseque nt author contributes something new to the tradition of the fairy tale princesses by building upon the adapta tions of previous

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vii authors and twisting the plots and descriptions to suit hi s immediate purpose. James Gordon Bennett adapts the tradit ion of the Sleeping Beauty to evoke erotic desire for a murdered prostitute and further encourage passivity among women in Antebellum America, whereas Edgar Allan Poe combines the sleeping beauty motif with active women, like Jewett, who refuse the ultimate passivity of death and return to terrorize their male oppressors. George Lippard mixes the fairy tale descriptions with Bennetts sensational reporting style and Poes Gothicism to create apocalyptic, anti-capitalist fairy tales that work to reveal the excesses of th e ruling elite. George Thompson, seeing the success of the politically and socially subversive fiction of Lippard, couches his nearly pornographic adaptation of fairy tale themes and descriptions in mock subversion.

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1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Americas fascination with fairy tales is seemingly never-ending. From the 1729 English translation of Charles Perraults Contes du Ma Mere L Oye to the 2005 movie The Brothers Grimm Americans have engaged in a love affair with anything fairy tale related. Americans other passion seems to be reality television and crime dramas, the gorier and more sensational the be tter. In fact, sex crimes a nd political scandals, most of the time a mixture of the two, dominate the story lines of the hi ghest rated non-reality shows on television. Writers on shows such as Law and Order: Special Victims Unit have capitalized on Americans love of fairy tales and sensatio nal storylines by creating an amalgam that keeps their ratings high enough to survive in a forum where viewers tastes change rapidly. From Blue Beard to Sleeping Beauty and Snow White to Cinderella, The Law and Order franchise has referenced fairy ta les too many times to count. Even shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer have used Sleeping Beauty and Blue Beard in at least two story lines, and reality shows such as What Not to Wear and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition have incorporated elements of Cinderella into their very premises. Each of these shows reinforces Americas capitalist ideology that deserving people get to move up the socio-economic ladde r and live happily ever after, whereas criminals receive their due punishment. This amalgamation of fairy tale motifs with more risqu fare is not new. In the early nineteenth century, the antebellum American authors of sensationalism saw the

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2 popularity of the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, Giambattista Basile, and Charles Perrault and seized upon the oppor tunity to capitalize on thei r popularity by incorporating fairy tale motifs into the sensational news a nd fiction of the day. That the authors of sensational works wrote to evoke sensations shock, and thrills from their readers, purported to uncover the miseries and myster ies of various urban centers, and used their work as forum for their own political a nd social views worked well with the themes and messages of the fairy tales.1 In fact, the use of popular fairy tale motifs helped establish the New York Herald and catapult George Lippards The Quaker City and George Thompsons work to bestselling status Even Edgar Allan Poe, who strove for success throughout his career, wrote stories filled with references to fairy tales. This dissertation will examine the works of each of these men, paying attention to the ways in which each builds upon the work of his predecessor by incorporating Snow Whites, Sleeping Beauties, and Cinderellas and adding his own take on the meaning and place of the passive woman in Antebellum Amer ica. These writers did not simply use fairy tales as they were; each transformed them and built upon the work of his predecessor to further his personal agenda a nd enter into the antebellum debate about American womens roles. This debate o ccurred among women and me n alike, and some nineteenth-century women channeled their fr ustration with womens restricted roles combined with a sense of superior rightne ss legitimized by the Cult of True Womanhood 1 For more on the content or the political and social work of antebellum sensationalism, see Stephen John Hartnett, Democratic Dissent and the Cultural Fictions of Antebellum America (Champain, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2002); Shelley Streeby, American Sensations: Class, Empire, and the Production of Popular Culture (Berkeley, CA: University of Califor nia Press, 2002); and Isabelle Lehuu, Carnival on the Page: Popular Print Media in Antebellum America (Chapel Hill, NC: Univers ity of North Carolina Press, 2000).

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3 into the reform movement s of the first half of the nineteenth century.2 These womens increased activity concerned many men and many other women, who encouraged the piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity that the reformists rejected. Reformist women worked within their prescribed roles, but their increased political and social activity demonstrated their displeasure with an America that promised freedom but oppressed over half its citizens. Herald editor James Gordon Bennetts agenda was simply to sell more papers by toying with both sides of the debate and creati ng sensational news stories that appealed to the publics baser desires; Po e, like Bennett, catered to t he mobs desires, but he twisted the formula to demonstrate the horro r of active women who refuse passivity. Lippard had a more social and political motive in that he twisted the formula of the fairy tale to further a socialist critique of the capitalist city in his sensational novels. Thompson masked his nearly pornographic work by pretending to offer an anti-capitalist critique like Lippards, but the way in which he uses fairy tales simply reinforces the repressive state structures th at it pretends to subvert. Chapter 2 begins by introducing the popul arity and prevalence of fairy tales in nineteenth-century America. Charles Perrault's Fairy Tales or Histories of Past Times was translated to English in 1727, and Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm's German Popular Stories, translated from the Kinder und Hans Marchen was translated in 1823. Both went through several reprintings and edit ions throughout the Nine teenth-Century. I incorporate statements from Edgar Taylor, the English translator of the Grimms' stories, magazine articles, and research on the number of translations and editions of these works 2 Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985), 109.

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4 to establish the American popularity of Taylor 's translations. The popularity of the tales prompted Taylor to re-edit th e tales, making them more suitable to British and American culture. American writers tr ied their hands at both writi ng their own fairy tales, as Nathaniel Hawthorne did with his Wonder Book and at adapting fairy tales to American settings, as Lydia Maria Fr ancis Child did with her Evenings in New England I also discuss the political and social impli cations of the tales, especially those of the Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella tale types. Each tale underscores and reinforces patriarchal authority, even when that authority dictates a daughter marry her father. Too, any woman who dares to assert her independence suffers severe punishment and, often, death. The tales do not restrict their punishment to evil stepmothers. Though Snow White and Cinderellas stepmothers suffer by the end of those tales, in many others, the heroines themselves suffer before they find happiness. Their suffering clearly results from their refusal to abide by their fathers wishes, even when that wish is incestuous. In each of these tales, the young woman has to di sguise herself and become a servant in another kingdom, wher e other servants and the king mock and abuse her. The ending of these tales has the girl marrying th e very king who has mocked and abused her throughout her time as a servant, thus reestabl ishing the patriarchal authority that she had subverted by running from her incestuous father. After the discussion of fairy tales, Chapte r 3 turns to the 1836 murder of New York City prostitute Helen Jewett. I begin with a discussion of James Gordon Bennett's descriptions of the scene and Helen Jewett' s body. Bennett fails to include the autopsy incisions, the charred nature of the body, and the gashes in her head. Had he described a mutilated corpse, Bennett could not have talked of Jewett's body as white or of her

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5 perfect figure. Jewett had been mutilated not only by the murderer's axe, but also by the autopsy knife before Bennett viewed the murder scene. Yet Bennett never mentions these details, choosing, instead, to portray he r as a modern version of Snow White or Sleeping Beauty. Bennett positions himself as the prince who has discovered a sleeping beauty: It was the most remarkable si ght I ever beheldI never have, and never expect to see such another. My God, excl aimed I, how like a statue! I can scarcely conceive that form to be a corpse. . Fo r a few moments I was lost in admiration at this extraordinary sighta beautiful female corpse. Like the fa iry tale princes created by Perrault and the Grimms, Bennett is comp elled to look upon the dead beauty. Bennetts sensational reporting was not the end of the countrys fascination with Jewetts murder. I also examine the pamphl ets and novels based upon the case. As late as 1982, authors were continuing to focus thei r attentions on the case, and in each popular pamphlet or novelization, Bennetts reports make up the foundation for the ending. Each author literally reprints Bennetts articles with nearly no commentary or description of his own. Obviously, this incorporation of f actual reporting lends some authority or credence to each fictionalized account, but it also demonstrates the importance of Bennetts authorial voice in constructing the account of Helen Jewetts life and death. Bennett and each successive author of Jewetts story incorporates details and motifs from fairy tales to create an acceptably sympathe tic figure out of a prostitute. They also uncover the latent sexuality of the fairy tales in overtly emphasizing th e erotic appeal of a sleeping beauty. After Chapter 3 establishes the similarities between fairy tales and Bennett's reporting of the Jewett murder, Chapter 4 exam ines the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe,

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6 comparing and contrasting them to Grimms and Perrault's fairy tales and Bennett's descriptions of Jewett's corpse. Once I es tablish this connection between Poe, Bennett, and necrophilic desire, I show how Poe's stories use and twist fairy tales. Indicating an indirect relationship between Poe and the fair y tales, Francine Pros e argues in her essay Sleeping Beauty, By now its probably clear that what Im talking about is a sort of modified necrophilia . And yet it can be imagined, and has been imagined, again and again, by the likes of Basile and Charles Perra ult (the original aut hors, transcribersor whateverof Sleeping Beauty), by Edgar Allan Poe . and, more recently, by Alfred Hitchcock. Prose only mentions that Poe imagined necrophilia, as did Basile and Perrault; she never suggests that fairy tales served as an impetus for Poes literary necrophilia. I build upon Prose's indirect a ssociation, establishing a direct correlation between fairy tales and Poe's sensational ficti on. In his reviews, Poe mentions the fairy tales of the Grimms, Perrault, and even Giambattista Basile several times. This section focuses on the stories in whic h Poe's male narrators are drawn to the corpses of dead women, describing the dead bodi es in terms such as the mockery of a faint blush upon the bosom and the face, marble hand, skin rivalling the purest ivory, and raven-black, the glossy, the luxuriant and natu rally curling tresses. The analysis of Poe's stories also considers th e actions of the primary male characters and narrators. In The Premature Burial, a wo man's male lover travels to her grave with the purpose of disinterring the corpse and po ssessing himself of its luxuriant tresses. Once he has unearthed his lover's corpse, he discovers, In fact, the lady had been buried alive. Vitality had not altogether departed ; and she was aroused, by the caresses of her lover, from the lethargy which had been mistaken for death. Not only are the

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7 descriptions of the women in Poe's stories sim ilar to those of the fairy tale princesses, but his male characters' actions parallel those of the fairy tale princes who awaken their princesses with kisses. I also detail the similarities between the se ttings of Poe's stories and those of the fairy tales. In Fall of the House of Usher, for example, the narrator describes the house as being infused with a sense of insuffe rable gloom, possessing bleak walls, being surrounded by decayed trees, and evoking in the observer an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart. The narrator's descri ptions of the House of Usher are in keeping with the descriptions of the homes in whic h the sleeping beauty of the fairy tales is imprisoned. Both narrators describe the scen es in terms of horror and silence. Scenes of gloom or death are everywhere in both the House of Usher and the palace in which Sleeping Beauty lies. The narrato r of Usher never actually uses the word death to describe the scenery, yet the decay ed trees, insufferable gloom, and bleak walls of the Usher home are as much the i mage of death as what the prince in Perrault's tale encounters. Moreover, both Po e's narrator and Perrault's prince experience a feeling of iciness or being frozen w ith terror upon first confronting the house or palace. At this point in the chapter, I look at the differences between Poe's stories and those of the fairy tales. Wheras the fa iry tales separate good and evil women into different characters like the wicked stepmoth er, the wicked witch, the fairy godmother, and the kind-hearted princess, Poe creates more complex female characters, combining good and evil in one character. Drawi ng on Dawn Keetley's study Victim and Victimizer: Female Fiends and Unease over Marriage in Antebellum Sensational

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8 Fiction, I read Poe's Ligeia, Morella, and La dy Usher as fiends and not just fairy-talelike heroines.3 In fact, Poes stories, rather than emphasizing or encouraging passivity in women, demonstrate mens terror of the activ e woman who refuses to remain dead. Instead of instructing women to be passive pious, pure, and domestic by encouraging identification with a heroine who embodies these traits, Poes stories encourage identification with mentally ill narrators w ho fear active, unholy, tainted, and worldly women who return from the dead to exact revenge on the men who sought to imprison them within the confines of the home. Chapter 5 considers the sensational wo rks of Poes contemporary and friend George Lippard. Looking at Lippard's The Quaker City, or The Monks of Monk-Hall: a Romance of Philadelphia Life, Mystery, and Crime I compare and contrast Lippards work with Poe's stories by examining the descri ptions of female corp ses, the actions of the male characters, and the settings of the stories. Moreover, I investigate Lippards reliance upon the popular fairy tales of th e Grimms, Perrault, and Basile, Bennetts reporting style, and Poes dark romanticis m as a means of gaining popularity. Since Lippard was also a reformer, he incorporates these themes in a more politically subversive manner than Poes work does. Lippards novel condemns those men who would take advantage of womens passivity and piety and the very idea that women should be passive. The Quaker City repeatedly subverts the belief that womans nature was passive by depicting her slumbering animal nature. In doing so, the novel also demonstrates the dangers that the capitalist city poses to the True Woma n. Thus, Lippard condemned 3 Dawn Keetley, Victim and Victimizer: Female Fiends and Unease over Marriage in Antebellum Sensational Fiction, American Quarterly 15.2 (1999), 344-384.

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9 not only patriarchal control over women, but also the entirety of the cult of domesticity. Equally important, his sensational and sexua l novel builds upon thos e fairy tales that depict father-daughter incestuous desire, by incorporating a reverend who attempts to rape his daughter. The text, unlike those of the fairy tales and Poe, condemns incestuous desire, demonstrating that a fathers complete control over his family leads to ruin. Throughout Lippard, he develops the motifs from fairy tales, Bennett, and Poe to further his anti-capitalist agenda, poin ting out the faults of the vari ous repressive structures of capitalism. Turning to George Thompson, Chapter 6 demonstrates that Thompson used the techniques of each subsequent author to help his novels Venus in Boston and City Crimes get past the censors. I explore Thompsons relationship with publishers who were known pornographers and argue that, contrary to th e assertions of scholars such as David Reynolds, Thompson was no radical democrat w ith a goal of subverting social norms and political views. Indeed, Thompson masks hi s work in the language of subversion; he mimics Lippard in pretending to subvert Ch ristian ideology, the cu lt of domesticity, and classism. Yet in every instance, Thompsons work immediate undoes any subversion by reinforcing the notion that the evil capita list who refuses to help the poor will be punished in the afterlife, a llowing only the pure and passi ve women to lead happy lives whereas their active counterparts receive cr uel punishments and death, and ensuring that hardworking and honest poor men move up in society on their own merits and become successful professionals. Chapter 7 revisits womens social reform movements, exploring the reasons that male writers like Bennett, Poe, and Thompson w ould turn to sensationa l depictions of sex

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10 and violence to reinforce the Cult of Tr ue Womanhood. Looking backward to Susanna Rowsons poem The Rights of Woman, I refl ect upon male writers desire to encourage women to see their duties in a more favorab le light. Bennetts and Thompsons works emphasize the belief that when women succu mb to the temptations of the world and neglect their rights to piety, submissive ness, domesticity, and purity, they end up abandoned, punished, or dead; In Thompsons wor k, it is all three. Poes work takes a different approach, forcing his reader to feel the terror of his male narrators when active women refuse death and the ul timate passivity. Lippard appr oaches the issue of womens rights and liberties in a diffe rent manner altogether, showing that capitalism gives women few choices other than selling their bodiesthrough prostitution or marriageto secure stable futures for themselves. Each point in my argument depends upon an understanding of and familiarity with fairy tales from seventeenth century Italy and France and nineteenth century Germany. These tales were the sensationa l fiction of their day, featuring familial violence, death, incest, and what looks to us like pedophilia. Thus, it is no wonder that the sensational authors of antebellum America tu rned to the fairy tales for inspiration and thematic content. Like Bas ile, Perrault, and the Brothers Grimm, American sensational writers used their art to instruct societ y on the proper behavi ors for womenpiety, purity, domesticity, and passivity. Unlike the fairy tale authors, however, American sensational writers messages were comple x and often contradictory, exposing the conflict over gender role s and ideologies in the antebellum period.

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11 CHAPTER 2 BEFORE DISNEY: READING PEDOPHILI A, INCEST, AND NECROPHILIA IN CLASSIC FAIRY TALES In 1937, Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the first full-length animated film. Since then, it has been re-rel eased to theatres an unprecedented nine times and remains a favorite of children and adu lts everywhere. Disney used Jacob and Wilhelm Grimms 1812 version of Little Snow White as their guid e, but watching the film, one would never know how violent and st rangely erotic the Grimms tale is. The Grimms version of the Snow White tale, li ke all of the tales Disney adapted into animated features, deals with far more adult themes than its more contemporary counterpart. Motifs of what we now consider pedophilia, incest, a nd necrophilia are not anomalies; they are intricately woven into many versions of the fairy tales across countries. These themes cross over into nineteenth cen tury American popular culture after the English translations of the fairy tales become widely available. This chapter will address the role of the English translations of Giambattista Basiles Il Pentamerone Charles Perraults Tales of Passed Times by Mother Goose with Morals and Jacob and Wilhelm Grimms German Fairy Tales and Popular Stor ies as Told by Gammer Grethel in socializing readers to Victor ian models of gender-appropriat e behavior, at the same time weaving in overtly erotic materi al. It argues that the translat ions of these tales helped to lay the cultural groundwork for and encourag ed a fascination with womens dead bodiesa necrophilic desireincestuous rela tionships, and pedophiliaand that these

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12 subjects, certainly taboo in antebellum America, contributed to solidifying the power of men over women and the notion that good women were innately pious, pure, submissive, and domestic.1 The authors of fairy tales did not simply collect the tales and publish them as they were. Basile wrote his tales in the Neapolitan dialect, fa shioning them according to his own tastes. Nancy L. Canepa explores theories relating to Basiles use of dialect: many critics view the use of dialec t in literary form as part of the general phenomenon of political and cultural decentralization and the ensuing regionalistic or municipalistic fervor. Moreover . its use implied a quest ioning of both literary predecessors and the contemporary advocates of tradition.2 More importantly, Canepa explains, [Dialect] was almost automatically relegated to the dom ain of low literary forms . it could serve the function of signaling th at the work . was not to be taken seriously and . any message contained therein could pose no significant threat to literary or social institutions.3 Though Canepas assertions that Ba siles use of dialect serves to undermine the authority of both literary and soci al institutions, she neglects an important 1 Many books and articles have been published about fairy tales and their interpretation and influence on literature, but to my knowledge, there has been nothing written on fairy tales as one of sensationalisms influences. See James M. McGlathery, Fairy Tale Romance: The Grimms, Basile, and Perrault (Urbana, IL: Illinois UP: 1991); Nancy L. Canepa, From Court to Forest: Giambattista Basiles Lo cunto de li cunti and the Birth of the Literary Fairy Tale (Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1999); Maria Tatar, Off with Their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1992); Jack Zipes, Victorian Fairy Tales: the Revolt of the Fairies and Elves (New York: Routledge, 1987) and When Dreams Came True: Classical Fairy Tales and Their Tradition (New York: Routledge, 1999); Jennifer Schacker, National Dreams: The Remaking of Fair y Tales in Nineteen th-Century England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003); and Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore their Favorite Fairy Tales ed. Kate Bernheimer (New York: Anc hor Books, 1998). See also the Norton Critical Editions of Maria Tatars The Classic Fairy Tales (New York: Norton, 1999); and Jack Zipess The Great Fairy Tale Tradition from Straparaola and Basile ot the Brothers Grimm (New York: Norton, 2001). 2 Canepa, 67. 3 Canepa, 69.

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13 facet of the talesthe inherent messages about the evils of talkative, active women. Yet her assertions about the use of dialect in literature bring to light aspects of George Lippards antebellum city novels, which will be discussed in Chapter Five, that might otherwise be obscured. Perrault, too, adapted the tales he collected to fit his agenda. The morals appended to the end of each tale serve to socialize women to be less curious, more passive, and less talkative. At the end of The Blue Bear d, the moral blames the curiosity of Blue Beards wife for upsetting him and, thus, putting herself in a dangerous situation: O, Curiosity, thou mortal bane! / Spit of thy ch arms, thou causest often pain . And always costs, alas! too dear the prize, / Which, in the moment of possession dies.4 That Blue Beard murdered his previous wi ves and planned to do the same to the heroine of the tale is overlooked in this moral. The woman in the ta le bears the sole blame in its final moral. Perrault added a second moral to the tale after readers comp laints revealed they were unhappy with the fact that the or iginal moral ignored Blue Be ards crimes. The narrator takes on a more tongue-in-cheek tone in the s econd moral, asserting that the tale takes place in the past and that husbands no longer behave so terribly. The first part of the three-part moral of Perraults The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood remains true to the authors patter of encouraging women to passively obey their husbands. It proclaims: To get a husband rich, genteel and gay, Of humour sweet, some time to stay, Is natural enough, tis true. But then to wait an hundred years, And all that while asleep, appears 4 Perrault, Charles, The Blue Beard, Histories or Tales of Past Times with Morals trans. Robert Samber (London: J. Pote & R. Montagu, 1729), 30.

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14 A thing intirely [sic] new. Now at this time of day, Not one of all the sex we see To sleep with such profound tranquility.5 The story lauds the passivity of the storys main character over the sex at this time of day. She waited with profound tranquility for the perfect man rather than pursuing him. Perrault clearly promotes the sleeping b eautys passive role in her relationship with her rescuer and future husband. Perraults addition of the morals and his removal of offensive elements like rape is in keeping w ith his desire to make the tales useful and instructional.6 The Grimms too edited their tales from th eir original oral forms. Ruth B. Bottigheimer clarifies the Grimms similar role : Despite the ancient and international lineage of many of the tales, the process of editing, codify ing, and translating them produced a distinctly ninet eenth-century text, incor porating the gender-related assumptions of Grimms informants and of Wilhelm Grimm himself.7 Feminist critics have gone further in explaining the messages inherent in the Grimms tales: Most popular fairy tales, like Ci nderella and Snow White a nd Sleeping Beauty, had heroines who were passive, apparently dead or sleepwalking, dependent on the arrival of 5 Charles Perrault, The Slee ping Beauty in the Woods, Tales of Passed Times by Mother Goose with Morals Trans. R. S. Gent (New York: J. Rivington, 1795), 57-58. 6 See Philip Lewis, Seeing Through the Mother Goose Tales: Visual Turns in the Writings of Charles Perrault (Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1996), 5, 149, & 168-170; and Ruth B. Bottigheimer, Grimms Bad Girls and Bold Boys: The Moral and Social Vision of the Tales (New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1987), 3. See also Ruth B. Bottigheimer, Silenced Women in Gr imms Tales: The Fit between Fairy Tales and Society in Their Historical Context, Fairy Tales and Society: Illusion, Allusion, and Paradigm ed. Ruth B. Bottigheimer (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986). 7 Ruth B. Bottigheimer, Silenced Women in Grimms Tales, 117.

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15 the prince for any animation and for entry into a real life.8 In compiling and publishing their Kinderund Hausmarchen the Grimms brought together a collection of stories that encouraged women and girls to be passive, silent, and nearly lifeless. In the Grimms tales, the only perfect women are dead women. The nineteenth century American publics fascination with Jewetts corpse and the female corpses in sensational fiction reinforces this premise, as I will discuss in the following chapters. Just as Basile, Perrault, and the Grimms did not simply record the tales from their oral sources, the men who translated the tales into English worked to make the tales more appealing and acceptable to English and American readers. In fact, Edgar Taylors 1823 translation of the Grimms tales, along w ith George Cruikshanks illustrations for Taylors edition, fully transformed the ta les into a popular and commercially viable form of reading material.9 Jennifer Schacker maintains th at like the Grimms, whose aim was partly that their volumes become a ma nual of manners, Taylor translated and edited the tales with an eye to the custom s and beliefs of his English and American readers. Taylors work cl early helped catapu lt the tales in the popular imagination. Whereas the Grimms tales were never best sellers (there were still 350 copies of the second volume of the first edition on the shel f when the second edition was released, and that took twenty years to sell 1500 copies), Ta ylors translation pr oved popular with the masses.10 In the September 1881 issue of Atlantic Monthly in Koschei the Deathless; or, the Diffusion of Fairy Tales, John Fi ske discusses the immense popularity of the 8 Elizabeth Harries, Twice upon a Time: Women Writers and the History of the Fairy Tale (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2001), 137. 9 Schacker, 13. 10 Schacker, 24-25.

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16 fairy tales of Straparola, Basile, Perrault, Grimm, and The Arabian Nights in the Western world, specifically focusing on American reception from the time of the first translations. Fiske argues that they were so popular that each new translation led to demand for fairy tales from other authors and regions.11 In the preface to his 1856 translation of the Grimms' tales, Edgar Taylor (also the translator of the 1823 version on which this es say relies) presents as justification for a new edition of the tales that he was first induced to compile this little work by the eager relish with which a few of the tales were received by the young friends to whom they were narrated.12 He continues, Popular fictions and traditions are somewhat gone out of fashion; yet most will own them to be a ssociated with the brightest recollections of their youth.13 Taylors production of a new edition of the tales and his assertions in the preface to the 1856 edition, as well as Fiskes comments about fairy tales in the Western world, an 1846 translation by John Edward Taylor, and numerous unauthorized translations and editions, further establis h the popularity of th e Grimms' tales. The literary fairy tales written by Bas ile and Perrault enjoyed immense popularity as well, though Basile presented a challenge to his early translators, who were wary of his ribald humor and overt sexual references. Basiles Il Pentamerone proved a popular source for folklorists as soon as the popularity of the Grimms tales became evident. In 11 John Fiske, Koschei the Deathless; or, the Diffusion of Fairy Tales, Atlantic Monthly 48.287 (September 1881), 310-321. See also Siegfried Neumanns The Brothers Grimm as Collectors and Editors of German Folktales, Donald Haases Res ponse and Responsibility in Reading Grimms Fairy Tales, and Ruth B. Bottigheimers The Publishing History of Grimms Tales all in The Reception of Grimms Fairy Tales: Responses. Reactions. Revisions ed. Donald Haase (Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1993). 12 Edgar Taylor, Preface, German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by Gammer Grethel (London: H. G. Bohn, 1856), iv. 13 Edgar Taylor, iv.

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17 1828, Thomas Keightley included several of Basiles more risqu tales in his Fairy Mythology and he late included others in his 1834 Tales and Popular Fictions The first English translation of Il Pentamerone by John Edward Taylor in 1848 includes an expansive preface explaining the process of translating and editing the tales for a nineteenth century audience and placing the to me in the larger emerging body of folklore studies. Taylor chose only thirty of Basile s fifty stories for pub lication, changing even those he included to omit matter of offense. Taylor justified his changes as necessary for the English and American cultures of the day: The gross license in which Basile allows his humour to indulge is wholly in admissible in a work intended for the general reader; the moral sense of our age is happily too refined and elevated to tolerate indelicacy.14 Writing just six years after the publication of George Lippards bestselling Quaker City Taylor seems to have overlooked the immense popularity of the penny presses and sensational fiction like Lipp ards that featured humor and indulged in immoral scenes of rape, incest, and murder. Or, perhaps Taylors reasons went furthe r than he wanted to admit; perhaps he realized that the tales scen es of fatherly incest, rape and domestic abuse go unpunished and uncritiqued, in contrast to those in Lippa rd and the sensational presses. Given the success of such indelicate material as that freq uently reported in the press, it is unlikely that the masses tastes were too refined and elevated to be able to handle Basiles tales. More probably, John Edward Taylor recognized th at the rewarding of what his nineteenth century readers frowned upon would have left a strange, if not dis gusting, taste in their mouths. 14 John Edward Taylor, Preface, Il Pentamerone (London: David Bogue and J. Cundall, 1848), xv.

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18 Charles Perraults tales also proved popular if the number of translations is any indication. In 1729, Robert Samber translated Contes du Ma Mere L Oye for the first time into English. After th is initial introduc tion to the English speaking world, translators produced editions of both the full book and the individual tales, selling them as small, cheap pamphlets.15 Because of the nature of th e printing of the pamphlets with cheap materials, there is no record of sales or of the actual number of different editions in circulation in the nineteenth century. Yet th is mass production in an affordable medium suggests that they would have been widely re ad and circulated. Pe rrault also presented fewer problems to his translators, since his st ories rely on implicati on and subtext to hint at objectionable or offensive elements; t hus, even more than John Edward Taylors translation of Basile, these tales appealed to both adults and children. In the same way that Basile, Perrault, the Grimms, and their translators did not write down the tales as they were told them, Disney did not create a film that simply reiterated the Grimms tale. Disneys Snow White bears little resemblance to the tale on which the company claims to have relied. Disney asserts that they made changes in order to tone down the violence in their film, yet ma ny of the changes have nothing to do with the level of violence in the Grimms origin al tale and everything to do with erotic elements. Though Disney does not explicitly st ate Snow Whites age, visual cues, such as the characters height and fully developed body, hint that she is in her late teens or early adulthood. In the first few minutes of the film, Snow White meets her prince at a wall on the very day her stepmother decides to have her murdered. 15 Between the time of the first English translation of Perraults tales in 1729 to 1850, there were at least nineteen publications of individual stories and one grouping of three stories. In the same period, there were at least twelve different editions of the entire collection.

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19 Later, after Snow White eats the apple and falls into a deathlike sleep, the dwarfs place her body on a pedestal. The dwarfs then chase the wicked stepmother, who accidentally runs off the side of a cliff, pl unging to her death in the raging water below. A short time later, Prince Charming arrives, grief-stricken at the sight of his beloved Snow White in her sleeping death. He kisse s her, she magically awakens, and they ride off into the sunset to live happily ever afte r. Obviously, Disneys assertions that it removed or changed the more violent episodes of the original tale suggest that their intent was to make the story more appropriate for an audience of young children. Yet, they also removed or changed episodes that have nothi ng to do with violence, episodes that deal with erotic themes and that depict Snow White as vain and vengeful. Though Wilhelm Grimm went back to the Kinder und Hausmarchen editing it so that subsequent versions were more appropria te for children, the fi rst version published in 1812 was intended to serve as a record of Ge rman folklore, reflecting the adult themes inherent in the tales. Thei r Snow White of 1812 is far more violent than their final version of 1857 and certainly more adult th an Disneys film. Early in the story, the narrator tells us, Now Snow White grew up, and when she was seven years old, she was so beautiful, that she surpassed even the queen herself.16 The queen of the story is not Snow Whites stepmother; she is the girl s biological mother, the woman who is supposed to lover and put her well being above all others. The major conflict in this story, and in ma ny fairy tales, occurs because of female jealousy. Here, Snow Whites mothers jealousy overrides her love for her own daughter; in all versions of th e Cinderella tale, the heroine s stepmother and stepsisters 16 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Snow-White, German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by Gammer Grethel trans. Edgar Taylor (London: H. G. Boh, 1823), 152.

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20 torment the girl only because they envy her youth and beauty. Female jealousy or vanity sets many of these tales in motion. The ar chetype of the evil stepmother or evil stepsister pervades antebellum American sensationalism, prompting James Gordon Bennett to speculate that the true murderer of Helen Jewett was one of her housemates who had become jealous of the girls beauty, charms, and success with men. The Grimms Snow White presents an element of the tale that is as strange as her mother trying to kill her; the heroine is but seven years old. The age of the heroine creates a pedophilic air a bout the text that also persists in sensationalism. The major events that lead to her deat h occur over a four-day peri od, and though she lay there in the coffin a long, long time, she did not decay . She lay there as if asleep.17 The narrator implies that the girl not only does not decay, but also does not age as she appears as if asleep. Thus, when the prince, whom she has never met, finds her and seems to fall in love with her, he falls in love with a child, an element even more disturbingly evoked in the tales of Edgar Allan Poe. The narrator affirms that although she looks as though she is living, Snow White is really dead: There came no br eath out of her mouth, and sh e was dead . They would have buried her, but that sh e looked still as if she were living, with her beautiful blooming cheeks.18 Unlike the Disney version, in which Snow White has fallen down in a deep slumber, the Grimm version makes it clear that she was de ad. Rather than falling down as if dead, Snow White looks as if she were living. When the prince looks upon Snow Whites body in her glass coffi n, he declares, I beseech you to give it 17 Grimm, Snow-White, 155. 18 Grimm, Snow-White, 155.

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21 to me, for I cannot live w ithout looking upon Snow White.19 The prince does not express love for Snow White; he r beautiful female corpse, an it to possess, enthralls him. A mans obsession with the beautiful corpse of a woman appears continuously in American fiction of the nineteenth century in the penny presses, Poes fiction, and the sensation fiction of writers such as George Lippard and George Thompson. Though Disney omits the princes obsession with Snow Whites corpse from their film, in Grimms tale it readily presents itself. The narrator explains that when the prince first sees Snow White in the glass coffin, he is so struck by her beauty that he cannot get enough. More importantly, the narrator describe s the depth of the princes interest in the girls body: He read the golden inscription and saw that she was the daughter of a king. He asked the dwarfs to sell him the coffin with the dead Snow-White, but they would not do this for any amount of gold. Th e he asked them to give her to him, for he could not live without being able to see her, a nd he would keep her, and honor her as his most cherished thing on ear th. Then the dwarfs took pity on him and gave him the coffin. The prince had it carried to his castle, and had it placed in a room where he sat by it the whole day, never taking his ey es from it. Whenever he had to go out and was unable to see Snow-White, he became sad. And he could not eat a bit, unless the coffin was st anding next to him.20 Here, unlike in Disneys version, the prin ce obsesses over the object of his lustSnow White. He has never met her, and he falls in love not with a dear ly departed love but with the corpse of a child upon whom he has ne ver before laid eyes. Moreover, he does not see her as someone with whom he can ha ve a relationship, nor can he since she is dead. He sees her as a gaze-object to be bought and sold, offering the dwarfs any amount of gold for her. When they refuse to sell here, he begs them to let him have her 19 Grimm, Snow-White, 156. 20 Grimm, Snow-White, 156-7.

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22 so that he can see her, assuri ng them that he will treat her as his most cherished thing on earth. He does not l ove her; he does not even see her as a person. He refers to her as a thing to be cherished, and much li ke a horse, she has exquisite breeding. The princes insistence that he be able to view Snow Whites body at all times seems at best neurotic, but it also points to his power over her. The princes power directly correlates with his ability to gaze at the girls body. Elizabeth Bronfen explains the princes need to see the coffin a nd Snow White: Seeing means possession and pleasure while the act of ideal izing annuls both the femininity of the adored dead object and its insertion in temporality.21 Snow Whites prince can possess her in death in a way that he cannot in life. He has full contro l over her and laments if he has to be away from her body because it reminds him of the lim its of his power. Death and the princes idealization of her corpse annul Snow Whites femininity, that part of her that holds power over men. Because she is dead and becau se the prince can look upon her with rare interruption and no censure, Snow White pres ents no challenge to his authority. She cannot object or fight back; she cannot say th at she does not want to go with him. The prince has her as his complete command; t hus Snow White is the perfect woman by antebellum standards. Even though the narrator of Basiles The Young Slave never gives a detailed description of Lisa when she is dead, the qu eens reasons for disguising Lisa as a slave reveal an awareness of mens necrophilic desi res. When Lisas mother dies, she gives her brother, the king, the key to the room in which Lisas corpse lies seven crystal coffins, one inside another. She never tells him what is inside the room; she only asks 21 Elizabeth Bronfen, Over Her Dead Body: Death, Femininity, and the Aesthetic (New York: Routledge, 1992), 100.

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23 him to swear not to enter it. He leaves his new wife in charge of the key while he travels, telling her, as Blue Beard tells his wife, not to enter the room. Of course, she enters it and finds the beauteous dead body of Lisa.22 Not knowing Lisas identity, the queen reacts violently: Bravo, my priest; key in waistband, a nd ram within; this is the reason why I was so earnestly begged not to open th is door, so that I should not behold Mohammed, whom he worshippeth within these chests. Thus saying, she pulled her out by the hair of her head . she at once cut off the dams els hair, and gave her a good drubbing, and arrayed her in rags.23 The queen believes that the king kept her from the room because he worshippeth Lisa. At the very least, she believes that he ad mires the beauteous corpse lying within the chests. Likely, she believes her husband has been having sex with the corpse, releasing the ram within. The queens violent behavior upon finding the girl evinces her jealousy. If she merely thought that the ki ng was looking at Lisas corpse, her reaction would have been less violent toward the girl The queens actions indicate her keen awareness of male desire for a lifeless woman with whom to engage in intimate intercourse. The male gaze functions in other fairy ta les as well, pointing to the heros power over the subjugated, dead female body. The na rrator of Charles Perraults Sleeping Beauty describes the princes reactions upon entering the palace, saying that what he sees is enough to freeze his blood with terror and th at Death seemed to be everywhere.24 Despite the death that seems to be around him, the prince presses 22 Giambattista Basile, The Young Slave, Il Pentamerone, or The Tale of Tales trans. Sir Richard Burton (New York: Boni & Lieveright, 1927), 117. Reprint of the 1893 edition. 23 Basile, The Young Slave, 117. 24 Charles Perrault, The Slee ping Beauty in the Woods, Histories or Tales of Past Times with Morals trans. Robert Samber (London: J. Pote & R. Montagu, 1729), 20.

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24 onward and encounters the sleeping princess, who possesses radiant charms that make her appearance luminous and supernatural.25 In their Brier Rose, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimms narrator explains the princes re action upon finding the sl eeping princess after encountering seeming death: There she lay, and her beauty was so marvelous that he could not take his eyes off her.26 Similarly, in the Grimms less familiar The Glass Coffin, the narrator describe s the heros reaction upon findi ng a glass coffin in which lay a seemingly dead woman: How his ad miration increased when he saw therein a maiden of the greatest beauty!27 Sexual imagery figures more prominently in the texts of both Perraults and the Grimms fairy tales. In Perraults Sleeping Beauty, the narrator explains, great trees and brambles and thorns opened of their ow n accord and allowed [the prince] to pass through.28 Similarly, in Grimms Brier Rose, Beautiful flowers that opened of their own accord, let him through, and then closed again like a hedge.29 By describing the princes penetration of th e barrier that had grown up around the castle, the narrator alludes to the princes penetration of the sleeping beauty. Because the trees and brambles and thorns and beautiful flowers opened of their own accord in both Perraults and the Grimms versions of the tale the reader understands that the princes penetration of the sleeping beauty is consensual. 25 Perrault, The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods, 20. 26 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Brier Rose, German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by Gammer Grethel trans. Edgar Taylor (London: H. G. Bohn, 1823), 30. 27 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Glass Coffin, The Complete Tales of the Brothers Grimm ed. Jack Zipes, 3rd edition, (New York: Bantam, 2003), 483. 28 Perrault, 19. 29 Grimm, Brier Rose, 29-30.

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25 In an earlier version of the sleeping beauty tale, Giambattista Basiles Sun, Moon, and Talia, penetration is literal rather than figurative, and it is not consensual.30 In this tale, Unfortunately, one of the chips of the flax entered her nail, and Talia fell dead upon the ground.31 The princess is not a sleeping beauty but a dead beauty. When the hero of the tale finds the dead wo man, he believed that she slept, and he called her, but she remained insensible, and crying aloud, he felt his blood course hotly through his veins in contemplation of so many charms; and he lifted her in his arms, and carried her to a bed, whereon he ga thered the first fruits of love.32 The king of this tale believed the princess was sleeping, but he can not wake her. He called her, and still she did not respond. Though the reader know s that the princess is dead, the king gathered the first fruits of love. He does not hesitate to put out the fire that her charms had set, and the fact that she was dead may have been part of the allure. As a corpse, the princess does not posse ss the ability to reject the ki ng's advances. Basile also includes a hint of realism in his tale when the king returned to his kingdom and for a time thought no more of this incident.33 Instead of Talia waking up and living happily ever after with the king, Talia remains dead or asleep, and the ki ng forgets all about her for nearly a year. 30 In his preface to the 1856 English translation of Gr imms' tales, Edgar Taylor discusses the similarities between Basile's story and both Pe rraults and Grimms' versions. Thus, even though Basile was not yet translated into English it is possible that his stories were also widely known. 31 Giambattista Basile, Sun, Moon, and Talia, Il Pentamerone, or The Tale of Tales trans. Sir Richard Burton (New York: Boni & Lieveright, 1927), 420. Reprint of the 1893 edition. 32 Basile, Sun, Moon, and Talia, 421-422. 33 Basile, Sun, Moon, and Talia, 422.

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26 Though Basile had not yet been translated into English, English and American readers likely knew the tale well, since Poe a nd his contemporaries reference this tale on several occasions prior to John Edward Taylo rs edition of 1848. In his edition, Taylor includes the tale but removes the rape. In stead, the king admired her beauty a while, and nine months later Talia gives birth to tw ins. Clearly, a sexual encounter must have taken place, but Taylor takes great pains to obscu re it. Even so, the sexual aspect of the tale must have been widely known. In his 1823 translation of the Grimms tales, Edgar Taylor footnotes his translati on Brier Rose to explain th at Basiles version was one source that the brothers used in writing their own tale. Taylor summarizes the plot of Basiles version, touching upon the princes se xual encounter with the sleeping woman. This explanation functions to further highlight the latent sexuality in the Grimms tale. Taylors summary adeptly hints at the appeal of the more sanitized tales of the Grimms by pointing to Basile as the repressed ground from which the Grimms stories grew. The illustrations of Perraults and Grimms S leeping Beauty tales further point to both the power of the male gaze and the tales latent sexuality. In R. S. Gents 1795 translation of Perraults Tales of Passed Times by Mother Goose with Morals the picture of Sleeping Beauty shows the princess asleep w ith her head turned slightly to the side, facing the reader (Figure 2-1). A light shines in upon the young womans body, illuminating only her and her servant girl even though a third, faceless and seemingly sexless figure appears to be slumped over in the floor next to the bed. Though Sleeping Beauty is fully clothed, the dress of her serv ant seems to have slipped off the shoulder; moreover, the neckline of the servants dress pl unges, and she sits with legs spread in a most unladylike manner.

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27 Figure 2-1. Illustration for S leeping Beauty from R. S. Gents 1795 translation of Perraults Tales of Passed Times with Morals by Mother Goose34 Though this drawing obviously conveys less ove rt sexuality than Alfred M. Hoffys pornographic depiction of the dead prostitute Helen Jewett, the serv ant girls slightly revealing dress and splayed legs are certainly suggestive. By associ ating the more sexual components with the servant girl, the illustra tion preserves the piety and chastity of Sleeping Beauty while still incorporating a sexual element.35 That the girls are depicted 34 From Perrault, 14. 35 None of the critics who have examined fairy tales mentions this aspect of the tale.

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28 as sleeping gives the presumed male viewer power. Though th ey are turned toward the viewer, the girls do not gaze out. They sleep the sleep of death, completely passive and vulnerable to the desires and power of the viewer who sees them just as the prince of the story does. Neither prince nor reader risk rejection from the sleeping, or dead, girls. In George Cruikshanks illustration for Taylors 1823 translation of the Grimms tales, Brier Rose is alone, lying on her side with her head turned toward the reader (Figure 1-2). A light shines on her. In a ddition, even though this portrait presents a fully clothed and less sexualized sleeping woman, the bed linen s are pulled slightly down, revealing Brier Roses upper torso. The illu stration demonstrates her voluptuous figure, again giving the reader an experience similar to that of the storys prince. Both reader and prince are again in a position of power over the lifeless girl, who cannot look out of the picture. She cannot wield any power, nor can she actively participate in choosing her own future; she is at the mercy of the reader and the prince. Figure 2-2. George Cruikshanks illust ration for the Grimms Brier Rose36 36 From Grimm, 25.

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29 Many fairy tale heroines are at the mercy of the people who should have their best interests at hearttheir parents. As menti oned earlier, her own mother tortures and kills a seven-year-old Snow White in the Grimms 1812 version of the tale. Another parental villain poses a threat to the he roines of tales such as Basile s The She-Bear, Perraults Donkey-Skin, and the Grimms All-Fur. In each of th ese tales, after the main characters mother dies, her fa ther commands her to marry h im to satisfy both his desires and his wifes dying wish that he not marry until he finds a woman who surpasses her in beauty. Though incestuous marriage between a father and daughter seems an odd subject for a fairy tale, the theme runs through many tales from differ ent cultures. The frequency with which the subject of incest occurs in fair y tales suggest that it may have been an all too common reality for many women.37 Maria Tatar explains that there was no distinct dividing line between the fiction of fairy tales and the facts of everyday life, or at least the most sensational aspects of everyday life.38 Thus, fairy tales likely functioned in much the same way as todays tabloids a nd antebellum Americas penny presses, as a means of entertaining their audi ences with the sensational. In each of these tales, the motivational force behind the inest is the mothers dying wish that her husband only remarry when he finds a woman who surpasses her beauty. When the father overcomes his grief, he succu mbs to the need to produce a male heir, but fearing a curse from his dead wife, he searches for a woman to fulfill her wish. In each tale, the only woman who even comes close to surpassing the wifes beauty is the 37 Threatened or actual incest occurs in at least eight tale types on the Aarne-Thompson scale. See types 313E, 510B, 706, 706A, 706B, 706C, 712, and 883A. 38 Maria Tatar, The Hard Facts of the Grimms Fairy Tales (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1987), 140.

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30 daughter. Rather than trying to fight the ince stuous desire to marry his own daughter, the father in each tale commands her to marry him. The dying wish of the queen makes clear that she does not wish to be replaced; she wants to remain the sole object of her husba nds affection. The wish also clarifies the queens vanity. The queen in Basiles T he She-Bear threatens her husband: Show unto me a proof of thy love and give me a promise that thou wilt never marry, unless thou meetest one beautious as I have been; and if thou wilt not do so, I w ill leave thee a curse, and I will hate thee even in the other world.39 The queens threatened curse weights heavily on the kinds mind and, in fact, is the only thing keeping him from remarrying quickly. In Perraults tale, the queen takes a gentler ap proach, making no threats but executing what the narrator later explains is an impossible wish: Wait [to remarry] until you have found a woman more beautiful and better formed than myself.40 The queen in the Grimms tale, like most of their female characters, has no dialogue, but the narrator tells us of her dying wish: [She] asked hi m not to marry anyone following her death, unless she was just as beautiful as she, and unless her hair was just as golden as hers.41 The kings search for a woman to fulfill hi s wifes conditions yields no fruit until he discovers that his daughter possesses every required characteristic. The narrator refers to the girl as made from the same moul d as her mother, possessing a charm and beauty which even the queen had not, and as beautiful as her mother, and she had the 39 Giambattista Basile, The She-Bear, Il Pentamerone, or The Tale of Tales trans. Sir Richard Burton (New York: Boni & Lieveright, 1927), 151. Reprint of the 1893 edition. 40 Charles Perrault, Donkey-Skin, The Grey Fairy Book ed. Andrew Lang. (Longmans, Green, & Co., 1900), 1. 41 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, All Fur, The Great Fairy Tale Tradition from Straparaola and Basile ot the Brothers Grimm ed. Jack Zipes (New York: Norton, 2001), 47.

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31 same golden hair in Basile, Perra ult, and the Grimms, respectively.42 The girl becomes a replacement for her mother, with the narr ator referring to her only in terms of comparison with her mother. She has no true identity of her own; Perrault and the Grimms dont even give her ch aracter a name. Her father se es only her mother in her, a motif that will recur in Poes Morella and Lippards Quaker City Basiles The She-Bear serves as an exem plar of his incest tales. The tale, along with Perraults Donkey Skin a nd the Grimms All Fur, is act ually classified as type 510B (A King Tries to Marry His Daughter) on the Aarne-Thompson scale of folktale classification. Certainly, the tale involves this motif, but Basiles tale also hints of bestiality. In Basiles version, the kings desire goes further than simply wanting to marry his daughter, reaching to the overtly ince stuously sexual: The king made his way to [his daughter Preziosas] bed chamber, a nd called to the bride to come and fulfill his desire.43 Even though the fathers insistence that his daughter fulfill his desire in her bed chamber disturbs the modern reader, most of the tale focuses on another mans disturbing attraction to Preziosa. With the help of an old woman, Preziosa tu rns herself into a bear to escape her father. When she arrives in the woods, a handsome prince comes upon her, and she puts her head down for him to stroke. He takes he r home to live in his garden and becomes so obsessed with her, even though she remains in bear form, that he brings her inside to cook, clean, and take care of him. Still in bear form, Preziosa performs her domestic duties to perfection, an implication that ge nder roles are innate and the princes 42 Basile, The She-Bear, 153; Perrault, Donkey-Skin, 3; Grimm, All Fur, 48. 43 Basile, The She-Bear, 153.

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32 obsession with her grows: If he had been consumed himself in a slow fire before, he burned with intense heat now . Then the be ar obediently neared the prince, who taking her cheeks between his fingers, could not leave off kissing her on the lips.44 It is not until after the prince has kissed the bear th at she changes back into the princess. Basiles story hints at bestia lity, brining the reader to th e point at which the prince begins to consummate his attraction to the bear and stopping just short of that consummation. That the bear is really a prince ss serves to obviate the bestiality at play in this tale, making it part of the overall love story. This trick of titillation and obviation is one that Lippard uses in The Empire City to titillate his reader with a seemingly homosexual, pedophilic relations hip between a minister a nd his student. We learn several pages into the scene th at the minister lavishes his affections not on a boy but on a young woman in disguise. Just as in Lippard s novel, where the true identity of the young woman masks an erotically homosexual encounter, the reader knows the bears true identity, and the narrative almost mask s the princes bestial desire. Yet the story makes clear that the prince desires the bear. Perraults Donkey Skin takes the incestuous de sire to a different level. The tale includes a moral that characteristically enc ourages womens obedien ce and virtue. The narrator explains: It is not hard to see that th e moral of this tale is that it is better to undergo the greatest hardships rather than to fa il in ones duty, that virtue may sometimes seem ill-fated but will always triumph in the end.45 The moral presents a puzzle to the careful reader: are the great est hardships related to the incestuous advances of the 44 Basile, The She-Bear, 157. 45 Perrault, Donkey-Skin, 15.

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33 father or to her life as a poor wretch who cleans pig troug hs? Might the narrator want the reader to equate the tw o? Could cleaning pig troughs be as horrible as being proposed to by ones own father? The story presents other difficulties to the reader. When the princesss father proposes marriage, her godmother urges her th at she must not disobey but must ask for gifts that the king cannot possible acquirea dressthe color of th e sky, then a dress the color of the moon, then one as shini ng as the sun, and finally, the skin of a donkey who, instead of dung, dropped a great load of gold coins.46 As the king acquires each item, the princesss resistance to marriage with her father diminishes. With each request, she is filled now with both happi ness and fear, is again delighted with its beauty, and did not know how to thank the king.47 The princesss resolve wavers in proportion to the beauty of the gifts her fath er bestows upon her. It s as though she sees shiny dresses and is ready to marry her fath er. More significantly, when the marriage does not take place, the people at court are he artbroken because there will be no feast or grand party. That the girls flight from her father wo rks, at first, to her disadvantage further complicates the story: She looked so unattr active and indeed so re pulsive in her Donkey Skin disguise that no one would have anythi ng to do with such a creature . she was exposed to the low jokes and ridi cule of all the other servants.48 Her treatment after fleeing her father functions as a sort of puni shment for her disobedience. Rather than 46 Perrault, Donkey-Skin, 2-6. 47 Perrault, Donkey-Skin, 2-8. 48 Perrault, Donkey-Skin, 13.

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34 being lauded for her high moral character, the young woman loses her family, her friends, and her beauty. She must work in filth and fact the scorn of even the lowest of the low. Only after a long time in her life as a servan t, after she has been fully punished, does she find happiness with the prince. Grimms All Fur features motifs and action nearly identical to The She-Bear and Donkey Skin. Yet this story, unlike thos e of Basile and Perraul t, features domestic violence that appears both acceptable and an i nherent part of a love relationship. She must pull off the kings boots before he gets in to bed at night. Ev ery night, when she had pulled them off, he always threw them at her head.49 This abuse does not occur only once; it always happens. That king abuses her in her role as his servant would not be at all strange if the girl does not go to great lengths to arouse the kings notice and a marriage proposal. More importantly, the Gr imms actually toned down the abuse. In many versions of the tale, the princes abuse of his future bride takes a far more violent track, featuring frequent beatings, as well as, in one instance, rape.50 The young womans pursuing the king with an eye to marriag e says to the reader that this type of domestic abuse was not only acceptable, but possibly desired. In none of these tales does the father rece ive any sort of punishment. His authority over his child remains unchecked even when he clearly does not have he r best interests in mind. In fact, D. L. Ashlimann performed a study whose results indicate that modern readers frequently read these tales thinking the king that the girl meets in the forest (or for whom she goes to work) is, in fact, her father. Ashlimann argues that it is likely people 49 Grimm, All Fur, 49. 50 D. L. Ashliman, Incest in Indo-Eur opean Fairy Tales, 14 November 1997 D. L. Ashlimans Homepage 22 February 2006 http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/incest.html

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35 hearing the stories in the days preceding th eir recording and people who read the stories communally after their literary publication read them as st ories about the consummation of a fathers incestuous desire.51 Thus, the ending pairs the princess with her father, living happily ever after. These fairy tales in their original language s and in their English translations serve to encourage the traits of what came to be known as the Cult of True Womanhood purity, piety, submissiveness, and domestic ityin an age when the woman question began to rage. They maintain paternal author ity when a father is present, and the primary conflicts in stories where a father is abse nt occur between women competing for male attention. The authors litera lize active women as ogresses, who die tortuous deaths in snake pits and red-hot iron shoes. The functi on of socialization has a prominent place in these texts, but the prolif eration of the motifs of n ecrophilia, incest, and pedophilia remains most striking. These motifs became staples of the sensational press. As we will see in the next chapter, James Gordon Bennett and other editors institutionalized their papers with the sensational news coverage of the 1836 murder of Helen Jewett, a prostitute in New York. Bennett and others transformed Jewett into various fairy tale characters, evoking sympathy for her and simultaneously warning othe rs of the dangers of the female fiend. Jewetts corpse becomes a sleeping beauty, a nd the owner of the brothel where Jewett resided and conducted business becomes a wicked stepmother envious of the young womans charms 51 D. L. Ashlimann, Incest in Indo-European Fairy Tales.

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36 CHAPTER 3 FROM THE FAIRY TALE PRINCESS TO THE NEW YORK PROSTITUTE: SLEEPING BEAUTY A ND THE BIG CITY On 10 April 1836, New York City brothel owner Rosina Townsend and one of her prostitutes discovered Helen Jewetts murder ed and charred body. The murder instantly became a sensation, with the citys men lining up to see the body of the young woman; moreover, it helped put the penny presses, particularly The New York Herald on the map. Newspapers and subsequent fi ctional accounts prin ted in pamphlets covered not only the events surrounding the murder and subsequent trial, but also Jewetts background, the background of alleged murderer Richard P. Robinson, the relationship between the two, and the crime scene, specifical ly the body of the murder victim.1 Scholars such as Patricia Cline Cohen and David Anthony believe this case to be the primary catalyst for sensationalism.2 The press coverage of the case re ached proportions previously unheard of. Complete transcripts of Richard P. Robinsons five-day trial ran in several major papers, at least six pamphlets about the murd er and trial were published, and local artists distributed lithographs of Jewett on he r bed in various states of undress.3 1 David Anthony, The Helen Jewett Panic: Tabl oids, Men and the Sensational Public Sphere in Antebellum New York, American Literature 69.3 (1997). Patricia Cline Cohen, The Murder of Helen Jewett: the Life and Death of a Prostitute in Nineteenth-Century New York (New York: Vintage Books, 1998). 2 Anthony explains that the penny presses anticipated the representational politics of much of the sensational fiction being produced during the period, including not only Gothic and detective narratives by Poe in the 1830s and 1840s but also neo-Gothics of the mid 1840s and early 1850s such works resemble the tabloid coverage of the Jewett case (491). See also Patricia Cline Cohen, The Mystery of Helen Jewett: Romantic Fiction and the Eroticization of Violence, Legal Studies Forum 17.2 (1993). 3 Anthony, 489.

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37 As Cohen argues more directly, In fact, the genre (sensationalism) dates precisely from the antebellum years of the Jewett mu rder, and the sensati on and popularity of murder mystery and detective fiction, w hose literary conventions were pioneered by Edgar Allan Poe, a resident of New York City in the year 1837.4 Cohen implies that even though Poe moved to New York City af ter Jewetts murder, he may well have been inspired by the crime and the public sensati on it caused. Indeed, it would have been difficult for Poe, or anyone living in th e United States in the years immediately succeeding the murder and trial, to avoid know ing about the case. It was covered in newspapers across the country, including the Cincinnati Mirror and Saturday Evening Post and was still a fixture in the pe nny presses for years after the trial.5 One hundred and fifty years after the murder, an historical novel made the Jewett murder its focus. As we will see in later chapters, fiction of the period alluded to both Bennetts coverage and the pamphlets that fictionalized the case. The descriptions distributed in the penny presses and pamphlet fiction based on the murder echo those of the fairy tales. Still, while the accounts of Je wetts life and murder, like the fairy tales before them, demonstrat e societys desire to warn women of the dangers of life outside of ma rriage and family, they betray a competing desire for access to womens bodies and sex lives. These accounts leave little to the readers imagination when they detail Jewetts relationships with men; they allow the reader full access to the life and the body of the dead woman, access they would not be granted to the body of a 4 Cohen, The Mystery of Helen Jewett: Romantic Fiction and the Eroticization of Violence, 133. 5 The Cincinnati Mirror Cincinnati, OH, June 18, 1836. Page 1; Atkinsons Saturday Evening Post New York, June 25, 1836 and July 16, 1836.

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38 living woman or of a virtuous woman. But why we re readers so interested in this case, in the life and body of a prostitute, for so long? Discussing death and desire in the Nine teenth Century, Russ Castronovo explains, Dead women are politically erotic for men, b earing a privacy invulne rable to the claims of the past and needs of the present . The female corpses passivity offers comfort.6 Later Castronovo links the political eroticism of the female corp se to literary eroticism: Perhaps Poe best appreciated womens death as an occasion of male cathexis in his 1846 remark that the death, then, of a beautif ul woman is, unquestiona bly the most poetical topic in the world.7 Castronovos assessment of female corpses as political and Poes assessment of them as poetical touch on aspects of the fairy tales of Giambattista Basile, Charles Perrault, and the Brothers Grimmall of whom created poetical, political tales that encouraged passivity in women, with ma ny of the tales centering on female corpses. Jewetts murder helped establish the penny pr esses within the world of journalism. Andie Tucher explores the ri se of the penny press in her Froth and Scum: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and the Axe Murder in Americas First Mass Medium asserting that their development and evolution contributed to objec tivity in reporting. Tucher examines the differences in reporting styles of the 1836 murder of Helen Jewett and the 1841 murder of Samuel Adams. Asserti ng that James Gordon Bennetts st yle had changed in the five years between the Jewett and Adams cases, Tucher claims that Bennett reported on all 6 Russ Castronovo, Necro Citizenship: Death, Eroticism, and the Public Sphere in the Nineteenth-Century United States (Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2001), 130. 7 Castronovo, 149.

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39 aspects of both cases, but in the Adams case, he created no fictions and called for the blood of the perpetrator.8 In her analysis of Bennetts changing st yle, Tucher looks only at the Jewett and Adams cases; she looks at none of Bennetts reporting in the five years between the murders, nor does she look at Bennetts other st ories that appeared at the same time or after the Adams case. In fact, my resear ch demonstrates that Bennett continued his periodic reporting and speculation on the Je wett case for several years. He focused especially on the lives of Robinson and the prostitutes who testified against him.9 On November 21, 1839, Bennett wrote about the au thorities failure to find and punish Jewetts murderer: The blood of Ellen Je wett continually cries from the ground for vengeance on her murderer, and though he has escaped by the force and influence of the foulest corruption from the justice of the la w, he is not beyond th e justice of Heaven.10 Bennetts anonymous biographer explains that Bennetts re ference to the justice of Heaven alludes to a report that Robins on had been wounded in Texas, which is a dramatic shift from Bennetts earlier asser tion of Robinsons innocence. Each of his reports through the years continues to specu late about the guilt and innocence of the major players in the case. Upon hearing of the suicide of Robert Furlong, one of Robinsons alibi witnesses, Bennett writes in 1838: What ought those persons do, who knew Robinsons guilt, and yet aided to defeat th e laws during that trial? Ought they not 8 Andie Tucher, Froth and Scum: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and the Axe Murder in Americas First Mass Medium (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994). 9 The Life of James Gordon Bennett Editor of the New York Herald (New York: NA, 1844). 10 The Life of James Gordon Bennett 22.

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40 in justice to go and hang themselves also?11 Again, Bennett accuses Robinson of the murder outright, neglecting to mention that he had declared the young man innocent and supported his case in the pages of the Herald Bennetts reports on the murder s of other women are in keeping with his reports on the Jewett murder and further clarify that Bennetts reporti ng style changed not with time but with the sex of the vic tim. According to Amy Gilman Srebnick, when reporting the disappearance of Mary Rogers in 1841, Bennett also speculated about the particulars of the crime and its victim.12 More importantly, Bennetts description of the corpse allow[ed] what was not permissible in life the full physical exposure of the female form. Presenting Rogers as a corpse, a fema le body no longer private, but instead totally exposed, the necrophilic descriptions of Mary with lace petticoat strips around her neck and blood leaking from her mouth, were pictor ial, dramatic, and erotic. Again, Bennett portrays the female corpse as an object of desire. So why did Bennett fabricate the details of the deaths of Jewett and Rogers? In the Adams case, John C. Colt confessed to the murder; there was little about which to speculate. On the other hand, in the Jewett case, Robinson maintained his innocence and was subsequently acquitted, and Mary Rogers case had no perpetrator on whom to place blame. Yet, the most important differences between these cases and that of Adams are the gender of the victims and the relevance of sexual intercourse to the circumstances surrounding their deaths. Bennett never describe d the corpse of Samuel Adams in terms 11 The Life of James Gordon Bennett 22. 12 Bennett speculated that Rogers had been violated by several rowdies, and ultimately strangled. Since witnesses later revealed that Rogers had died during an abortion and that they had arranged the scene to look like murder, Bennetts version of the crime is cl early fiction. Quoted in Amy Gilman Srebnick, The Mysterious Death of Mary Rogers: Sex and Culture in Nineteenth-Century New York (New York: Oxford UP, 1995), 28-29.

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41 of how it aroused him sexually, whereas implicit lasciviousness characterizes his descriptions of the corpses of Jewett and R ogers. The deaths of these women allowed Bennett and his readers access to their bodies that they were not allowed in life. The fact of their deaths makes them desi rable because they are completely passive, completely incapable of refusing these men acce ss to their bodies. Equally important, the sexual nature of the womens deaths removes the usual decorum and propriety that social relations between men and women dictated. He len Jewett was a prostitute murdered in a brothel. Mary Rogers died in the middle of an abortion. Clearly, these women refused to abide by societal dictates in life. They were sexually active, and at least one of them was active in determining if and when she would become a mother. Their deaths rendered them inactive. They became sleeping beauties whom men could view and desire freely. When we look closely at news reports a nd illustrations of Jewetts murder in conjunction with the tales of Basile, Perraul t, and the Grimms, similarities in the descriptions of the dead women and their surroundings become obvious. Close readings of Basiles, Perraults, and the Grimms ve rsions of Sleeping Beauty, the Grimms Snow White, and Basiles The Young Slave alongside descriptions of Helen Jewetts body and the circumstances of her downfall and mu rder illustrate the striking correlations among them. More importantly, close readings illustrate the ways in which each nineteenth century reporter or author transforms fairy tale motifs so that the female corpse becomes more indicative of the consolidation of the ideology of domesticity with the cautionary tale in antebellum America.

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42 That New Yorkers were interested in the Jewett case from the minute the word of her murder spread is evident. James Gor don Bennetts account of his visit to the scene describes the mob that stood outside Town sends home and filled the parlor inside: A large crowd of young men stood ar ound the door, No. 41, and several groups along the street in various di rections. The excitement among the young men throughout the city was beginning to spread in all directions. . A Police officer opened it [the door], stea lthily. I told him who I was. Mr. B. you can enter, said he, with great politeness. The crowds rushed from behind seeking also an entrance. No more comes in , said the Police officer. Why do you let that man in? asked one of the crowd. He is an editorhe is on public duty. I enteredI pressed forward to the sitt ing room or parlor. There I found another Police officer in char ge of that apartment. The old lady of the house, Mrs. Townsend, was sitting on a sofa, talking to several young men, in a great state of excitement.13 That a large crowd of young men, including a young George Thompson, stood in line to look at Jewetts body is telling.14 One gets the impression that they lined up in the same manner that people today line up for an amusement park ride. Just as people today wait in line to get a kind of thrill from a roller coaster, men and boys in 1836 New York anticipated the thrill of seeing what James Gordon Bennett later described as a beautiful female corpse.15 Many of them had likely been rebuffed by Helen when she was alive, as she had a reputation of being choosy with her partners, but in her death, they had full visual access to that which she had denied them in life. 13 James Gordon Bennett, Visit to the Scene, The Herald New York, April 12, 1836. Page 4. The article was originally published in the April 11, 1836 edition, but a problem with the steam engine attached to the press limited the number printed, and Be nnett reprinted the article in this issue. 14 See George Thompson, My Life: Or the Adventures of Geo. Thompson. Being the Auto-Biography of an Author. Written by Himself (Boston: Federhen & Co., 1854). Reprinted in Venus in Boston and Other Tales of Nineteenth-Century Life. Ed. David S. Reynolds and Kimberly R. Gladman. (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002). 315-317. 15 Bennett, Visit to the Scene, 4.

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43 In this passage, Bennett attempts to disti nguish himself from th e throng of thrill seekers by establishing that the police officer recognizes that he is there on public duty unlike the others. Like the mob who lined up outside the brothel, Bennetts readers experienced an excitement in reading his reports. Whereas Bennett markets his own persona as more restrained and observant he builds the readers excitement by providing them with the exciting access of the mob. When he en ters the brothel, he must press forward through the crowd to arrive at the parlor where Rosina Townsend recounts the tragedy with much detail, bringing her male liste ners to a great state of excitement. They are not appalled or saddened by Jewetts death, even though many likely knew her or had at least seen her wa lking up Broadway in her infamous green dress; rather, they become aroused by the deta ils. Clearly, the men who lined up to view Jewetts corpse and Bennett adhered to what Karen Halttunen refers to as the Romantic tendency to see dead bodies as object[s] of beauty and desire. 16 Though the authorities allowed Bennett to view both the corpse and Jewetts room at length, his description of the scene stra ys from the facts and relies on romance. Jewetts murderer had struck her in the head with an axe three times and set her on fire. The body had been autopsied. Yet Bennett desc ribes what he saw upon entering Jewett's room: What a sight burst upon me! . I looked around for the object of my curiosity . Here said the Police officer, here is the poor creature. He half uncovered the ghastly corpse. I could scarcely look at it for a second or two. Slowly I began to discove r the lineaments of the corpse as one 16 Karen Halttunen, Murder Most Foul: The Killer and the American Gothic Imagination (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1998), 66.

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44 would the beauties of a statue of marble. It was the most remarkable sight I ever beheld.17 Though he attempts to set himself up as an objective observer, th e thrill Bennett gets from viewing the body is evident from the be ginning. The mere sight of Helens room, the scene of both her sexual escapades and her murder, elicits an exclamationWhat a sight burst upon me! Immediat ely, he terms Jewett as not the body or the victim but the object of [his] curiosity. Even the officer refers to her as a creature. She is not a person; she is simply an object on display. Apparently forgetting the ghastly nature of the corpse hed been unable to look at for a moment, Bennett goes on to desc ribe the object of his arousal: How like a statue! I can scarcely conceive that form to be a corpse. Not a vein was to be seen. The body looked as whiteas fullas polished as the purest Parian marble. The perfect figurethe exquisite limbsthe fine facethe full armsthe beautiful bustallall surpa ssing in every respect the Venus de Medici according to the casts generally gi ven of her. [sic] . I was lost in admiration at this extraordinary sighta beautiful female corpse that surpassed the finest statue of antiquity.18 Despite the fact that one side of Jewett s body was charred, Bennett sexualizes her as a beautiful female corpse. Though he notes th e burnt pieces of lin en, blankets, pillows, black as cinders in the be ginning of his description, Bennett omits all evidence that she was set on fire to depict her as snow white. She is certainly like a statue in that neither can move, but detailing her perfect figure a nd beautiful bust as white as the purest Parian marble is more than just hyperbole. The dashes betray Bennetts and his r eaders desire for the dead womans body. Bennett creates a fantasy Venus with no visibl e imperfections and certainly no burns or 17 Bennett, Visit to the Scene, 4. 18 Bennett, Visit to the Scene, 4.

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45 incisions. One can almost hear Bennetts heavy breathing: as whiteas fullas the purest Parian marble . the exquisite limbs the fine factthe full armsthe beautiful bust. His excitement builds with each dash. At last, unable to contain himself, he releases this build up as he declares himsel f lost in the extraordinary sight of a beautiful female corpse. Bennett, and therefor e his readers, forget his original hesitance to look at the ghastly corpse. Indeed, as described in Bennetts account there is nothing ghastly about her. Finally, Bennett returns to reality when he sees the dreadful bloody gashes on the right temple, which must have caused instantaneous dissolution.19 Strangely, for minutes, Bennett misses the one detail that would stand out to any observer. He spends nearly a full column of newsprint describing the body before he mentions the gashes that killed her. He is clearly more interested in cataloging the beauties of the object in view than in the fact that shed been mu rdered. Equally telling is that Jewett had been mutilated not only by the murderers axe, but also by the autopsy knife. Yet, Bennett never mentions this last detail at all; it would have impeded him from describing her beautiful bust. Clearly, Jewetts body bore little resemblance to Bennetts description.20 Bennett plays with and builds upon a set of desc riptions that recur in fairy tales, a set of descriptions that any reader woul d likely recognize as e voking Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Given the tales popularit y, it is probable that both Bennett and his reading public were familiar with them.21 Where Bennett exclaims, What a sight burst 19 Bennett, Visit to the Scene, 4. 20 See Cohen, The Murder of Helen Jewett 17 and Anthony, 504. 21 In the September 1881 issue of Atlantic Monthly (48.287: 310-321), in Koschei the Deathless; or, the Diffusion of Fairy Tales, John Fiske discusses the immense popularity of the fairy tales (Straparola,

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46 upon me, in their Brier Rose, the Grimms prince finds that the sleeping princesss beauty was so marvelous that he could not take his eyes off her.22 Similarly, in the Grimms Snow White, the narrator affirm s, There came no breath out of her mouth, and she was dead . They would have buried he r, but that she looked still as if she were living, with her beautiful blooming cheeks.23 Similarly, Jewetts white, statue-like form echoes the Grimms description of their S now White. Indeed, Bennetts picture of Jewetts corpse allows his reader to forget that the object of his voyeurism is a corpse, just as the princes in the fairy tales forget that the women upon wh om they stumble are dead. Beautiful female corpses and sexuality figure prominently in the illustration found alongside Bennetts first report. The illu stration by Alfred M. Hoffy published in The New York Herald shows Jewetts body with the sheet pulled far enough down to expose her breasts, nipples erect (Fi gure 3-1). Her legs are expos ed and bear no marks of the bodys actual condition. In fact, she looks as though she were sleeping peacefully. Not only is Jewetts body free of any signs of brut al murder, fire, and autopsy, but her bed and linens are also free of these signs. As in the illustrations of Sleeping Beauty discussed in Chapter 2, a light shines in th e room, illuminating only Jewetts body so that the onlooker may see its details. David An thony discusses this lithograph and its overt Basile, Perrault, Grimm, and Arabian Nights) in the western world, specifically focusing on American reception from the time of the first translations. The ar ticle argues that they were so popular that each new translation led to demand for fairy tales from other authors and regions. 22 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Brier Rose, German Fa iry Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by Gammer Grethel, trans. Edgar Taylor (London: H. G. Bohn, 1823), 30. 23 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Snow-White, German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by Gammer Grethel trans. Edgar Taylor (London: H. G. Bohn, 1823). 155.

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47 sexualization of the corpse: E ven more than in Bennett's wr itten description, the viewer is invited to indulge not only in the pleasure of gazing at Je wett's body but also of gaining imaginary access to it.24 Like Bennetts sexualized de scription of the body, Hoffys illustration sexualizes the corpse and arous es the audience, stimulating desire and fantasies of access to sa tisfy that desire. Figure 3-1. Ellen Jewett. Alfred M. Hoffys rendering of Helen Jewetts corpse.25 Certainly, Patricia Cline Cohens asserti on that this particular crime created a sensation because of the sheer novelty of murder and because the victim was an infamous prostitute holds truth, but it doe s not account for the fact that people remained interested in the affair for nearly a century and a half. To be sure, Robinsons acquittal fed into the frenzy, creating further mystery. Yet, the fact that George Wilkes, editor of the National Police Gazette penned The Lives of Helen Jewett and Richard P. Robinson in 1849 24 Anthony, 507. 25 New York Historical Society.

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48 thirteen years after Robinsons acquittal all udes to something more at work in this story. That Wilkes was a news editor lends authority to his text being a product of the news, a feat that later texts attempt to imitate. Wilkes novel was popular enough that af ter publishing it se rially in the Gazette he published it as a complete volume. In 1878, parts of it were copied by an anonymous author and published as The Truly Remarkable Life of the Beautiful Helen Jewett, Who Was so Mysteriously Murdered In 1932, Nearly one hundred years after the murder, Manuel Komroff penned A New York Tempest a novelization of the mu rder and trial, as well as the events leading up to them. Even more striking is that in 1982, nearly one hundred fifty years after Jewett was murdere d, Raymond Paul wrote th e historical novel The Thomas Street Horror narrated by a fledgling Sun reporter investigating Jewetts murder and including multiple articles from Bennetts Herald The Sun and competing papers. How did these reporte rs and authors convince their readers that Jewett was worth their sympathies, that she was worthy of th eir lust, especially after so many years? Each subsequent author builds upon th e narrative created by Bennett; though Komroff uses the murder and trial only as an inspiration for his novel, Wilkes and Paul go so far as to incorporate the actual news reports from the Herald into their novelizations. Thus, it is important to understand the ways in which Bennett made Jewett an acceptable object of sympathy and lust. Perhaps to justify his desire for and fascination with this woman of ill repute, Benne tt seeks to create a sort of Cinderella out of Jewett. Bennetts story of Jewetts ch ildhood moves her class st atus upward toward the backgrounds of many of the heroines in fairy tales. According to Bennett, Jewetts real name was Dorcas Doyen. Her mother had passed away, and her father remarried.

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49 He claims that she was taken in by a nei ghboring judge and his family, who pitied her situation with her stepmother: At that time Dorcas was young, beautiful, innocent, modest, and ingenuous. Her good qualities and sprightly temper won the good feelings of the Judges family.26 This story ignores Jewetts lo wer class status, claiming her to be a playmate and best friend of the judges da ughters when she was, in fact, one of their servants. In presenting an evil stepmother and Jewetts sprightly temper in the face of reduced circumstances, Bennett sets up he r background to mirror that of Snow White and Cinderella. Surprisingly, authors writing after Benne tt also sought to establish Jewett as a middle to upper class girl. Wilkes writes of the Westons interest in the young woman: Dorcas Doyen soon became a general favorite of the family which had adopted her, and instead of being allowed to remain in a c ondition of servitude, she was promoted to the more comfortable dependence of companionship.27 Her intellectual capabilities further evinced her natural upper-class st atus: Her quickness of a pprehension and extraordinary proficiency soon exceeded all calculation . her conduct was precise and exemplary, and . she merited by her demeanor and her studious habits, all the encomiums and kindly feeling, which were extended to he r by her teachers and her friends.28 This description of Dorcas contrasts with an earlier description in the same novel that depicts her as a seductive eleven-year-old (possibly an eight-y ear-old, as Wilkess date would indicate) 26 Quoted in Cohen, The Murder of Helen Jewett 49. 27 George Wilkes, The Lives of Helen Jewett and Richard P. Robinson (New York: George Wilkes), 1849. 6. 28 Wilkes, 6.

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50 who loses her virginity to a fifteen-year-old boy.29 Of course, attempts to blame her intemperate fathers influence help to salvage Dorcas in the readers mind.30 Many fairy tales are about girls who have been stripped of their class position and fallen into desperate circumstances. This plot is true of Snow White, The Young Slave, and most famously Cinderella. Snow Whites innocent heart and lovely disposition keep the huntsma n from carrying out her stepmothers command that he murder the girl and cut out her heart.31 The stepmother is not deterred, however. She continues to seek the girl out and try to kill her with lace, a poisoned comb, and an apple. Even though Snow White no longer lives as a princess and performs domestic chores for the dwarfs, her class shows through in her beau ty and charm. Lisa, the heroine of The Young Slave, is forced into slavery by her wicked aunt, the quee n. The king realizes that Lisa is his niece once he converses w ith her because her manne r of speaking reveals her royal background, though she is disguised in the rags of a slave. Cinderellas upperclass status also shines even though her envious stepmother and stepsisters force her to wear rags and serve them.32 Corresponding even further to fairy tales, James Gordon Bennetts attempt to place the blame for Jewetts murder on another woman in the brothel parallels Sleeping Beauty, Brier Rose, Sun, Moon, and Talia, Snow White, and The Cat 29 The first page of the novel says that Dorcas was born in 1813. After a passage of two years from the time of Dorcas losing her virginity, she is said to be thirteen, but the date Wilkes provides, 1823, makes her only ten. If the date is correct, then Dorcas was but eight years old when she had her first sexual encounter. 30 Wilkes, 6. 31 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Snow White, 100. 32 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Cinderella, German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by Gammer Grethel trans. Edgar Taylor (London: H. G. Bohn, 1823).

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51 Cinderella. In both Perrault s Sleeping Beauty and Grimms Brier Rose, an old fairy curses the infant princess because she is jealous of the favor shown to the other fairies and feels slighted at not being invited to the childs christening. An old lady is also the one who presents the princess with the opportunity for pricking her finger. In Basiles Sun, Moon, and Talia, the heros wife discovers her hus bands infidelity and in a jealous rage attempts to feed his childre n to him and to burn Talia alive. In Snow White, the princesss stepmother repeatedly attempts to kill Snow White because the older woman is jealous of the girls beau ty. Basiles The Cat Cinderella further reinforces that women are jealous and connivi ng. When Zezolla, the heroine of the story, complains to her governess about the evil treatment she rece ives at the hands of her stepmother, the governess encour ages Zezolla to murder the stepmother. Soon after the murder, the governess convinces Zezollas fath er to marry her and begins to mistreat Zezolla in favor of her own children. Th e governess tempts Zezo lla to commit murder and tricks the girl into believing that she has Zezollas best interest at heart. Like the fairy tale narrators, Bennett inve nts a female villain. Discussing possible suspects and motives for Jewetts murder, he cl aims, It cannot be possible that [Richard P.] Robinson was the person! How could a you ng man perpetrate so br utal an act? Is it not more like the work of a woman? Are not the whole train of circ umstances within the ingenuity of a female, abandoned and desperate?33 Bennett suggests that Jewett had money and costly jewelry of which her coworker s were likely jealous. Just as the beauty of the princesses in fairy tales evoked desper ation in the hearts of other women, Bennett argues that Jewetts beauty and fortune spurre d another woman to desperate measures. 33 Quoted in Cohen, The Murder of Helen Jewett 18.

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52 Like Snow Whites stepmother, who feared th at her beauty had abandoned her, another woman may have been so jealous of Jewett that she killed the girl. George Wilkes novel takes th e villainess ploy a step furt her, bringing in numerous evil women who sabotage any chance that Helen has at making an honest life for herself. First, there is Nancy, a negress and former servant in the home of the paramour of Dorcas youth, who for a bit of money offers up her home first for the clandestine meetings of Dorcas and the young Sumner, and later encourages Dorcass rendezvous with other suitors by pretending to be interested onl y in Dorcass well being. Dorcas repays Nancys kindness with small gifts of money when she can, and truly believes that the old woman is her friend.34 Yet, when Dorcas is expelled from the home in which she had been adopted, she goes to Nancys cottage for solace, but Nancy rebukes her: It amused [me], it did, to see some people put on airs; people, too, who wa s no better than any other people, and who, if the truth came to the trut h was only servants at last!35 Nancys true feelings toward Dorcas become clearer still: She was astonished, she was, to say the least, that a person who had seduced and ruined an innocent young man, and sent hi m off to sea, should talk about being ruined herself! For her part, she was sick of such characters, and she had made up her mind to have nothing more to do with them. They had made her sinful enough already, and if she harbored or countenanced em any longer, she would expect some judgment of the Lord to fall upon her.36 Poor Dorcas is so taken aback and outraged that she verbally attacks Nancy and leaves the cottage with no notion of where to go next Her ruin comes at the hands of one who 34 Wilkes, 7-12. 35 Wilkes, 12. 36 Wilkes, 12-13.

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53 was interested only in self gain and putti ng Dorcas in her rightful place. Wilkes portrayal of Nancy adheres to the fairy ta les, which place the blame for young womens troubles squarely on the shoulders of their mo ther figures. Since Dorcas had no mother figure, Nancy fills that void, but she uses her power and influence to coerce Dorcas into a life of degradation. When Dorcass degrad ation becomes public, Nancy turns her back on the young girl, literall y turning her out to th e woods like Snow White. Dorcas never learns wariness in her dea lings with women attempting to fill the mother role in her life, and the wicked stepmo ther reappears multiple times. In her first foray into city life, Dorcas ventures to Portland and begins to look for work as a seamstress. When she encount ers a kind woman, Mrs. Burras, who offers to give her work as a personal seamstress for her and he r nieces complete w ith salary and room and board, Dorcas jumps at the offer. U pon arrival at Mrs. Burrass home, Dorcas quickly realizes that shes tra pped inside a brothel and is tr icked into prostitution again by the other young womens implications that her first love Sumner is a regular customer. They revel in her downfall because they are jealous of her beauty37 This is not the last time that Helen will be tricked by a woman w ho professes to have her best interest at heart. Like Snow White, Wilkes Helen Jewett encounters many such women without ever learning to discer n their real intentions. Even after years as a prostitute, Helen s naivety about the women she chooses as mother figures continues, contradicting her ot herwise worldly nature. In the next city into which Jewett enters, Boston, she passes out on the street at the sight of one of her former lovers. She is rescued by an African American family who practically holds her 37 Wilkes, 13-18.

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54 hostage while they sell off her personal propert y. When the authorities rescue her from her rescuers, one of the men takes her to liv e with his family. There, as Maria Benson, she begins a new life, complete with fianc a nd the prospect of resp ectability. Later, the local brothel owner, Mrs. Brya nt, discovers Helens true iden tity. She offers to help Helen if the latters background should ever be discovered an d if the family who has so lovingly taken her in should cast he r out as a result. Helen sees this not for what it isa threatbut as an honest offer of sh elter in dire circumstances. Soon after Mrs. Bryant offers to help He len, an anonymous letter to the kind family reveals that Helen had been both a prostitute and a mistress. Immediately, the family casts her from their doors, and Helen goes stra ight to Mrs. Bryant with no thought that her confidant might be the anonymous person who tipped off the family.38 Repeatedly, Helen, like Snow White before her, naively fa lls victim to the same betrayer. Mrs. Bryant later sabotages Helens attempts to make a match with an impressionable youth who cares nothing about her past. Again, even though Mrs. Bryant has hinted that someone might tell the boys father about Helen, the young wo man never imagines that her friend would sabotage her hopes.39 Mrs. Bryant, like Nancy, fills a motherly ro le in the young womans life, a role that had been unfilled since her own mothers deat h when she was only nine years old. Just as a young Snow White seeks female compan ionship in the old hag who visits the dwarves home and turns out to be her stepmother, Helen seeks a mother-daughter relationship with older women because of a sense of abandonment by her mothers death. 38 Wilkes, 27-30. 39 Wilkes, 30-33.

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55 Nancy, Mrs. Burras, and Mrs. Bryant are moth erly figures, comforti ng Helen at the most crucial times and giving her motherly advice ju st when she needs it most. Unfortunately, Helen seeks a mother figure in the wrong wome n. None of these women has her best interest at heart. Two are jealous of herNancy that Hele n has risen abov e her caste and Mrs. Bryant that Helens beauty and grace a llow her to pass as a member of the upper classes. Mrs. Burras, like Nancy, sees only m onetary profit for herself in her relationship with Helen, not caring that sh e is ruining a young woman forever. Like her mother before them, Helens mother figures abandon her emotionally and sometimes physically, leaving her to fend for herself in a society that cares lit tle about what becomes of immoral women. In Wilkes version, Jewetts story clearly diverg es from that of the fairy tales in that her downfall is overtly sexual. Rather than eating an apple that symbolizes forbidden fruit as did Snow White, Jewett becomes sexua lly active. More importantly, after being tricked three times by a wicked witch in disguise, Helen comes to understand and use her sexuality as power. She refused to shrink from publicity, she wore always one description of rich green silk dress, and carried a letter in her hand, that her appearance might be indicated without mistake by those who had seen he r to those who had not, but who might so desire . In this manner did she make profit out of her pastime, and pastime out of her talents, while her companions were lolling upon sofas or stuffing themselves with cake or confectionary through live-long hours of continual eating.40 She walks up the promenade alone, dressed to ga rner attention. She is a self-sufficient business woman, and her entire life is centered on attracting more business for herself. 40 Wilkes, 54.

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56 Rather than lazily lying about filling up on confections and hi ding in the brothels, waiting for men to come to her, she makes hers elf known so as to increase her sales. Helens independence and self-promotion conflicts with the tenets advanced by the Cult of True Womanhood, and her behavior and attitude so contradict the dominant beliefs of the age that it stuns her when people look down upon her. Helens confidence and strength is so powerful that she does not hesitate to have one of her johns arrested when, in a jealous rage, he commenced cutting her most costly dresses into shreds . He likewise had strangled her canary bird . and had wound up his exploit, by writing a ribald couplet in her album, that was intended as an insult to her person.41 Confident in herself and her station, Helen is shocked when the magistrate throws out the complaint once the gentleman promises to pay the value of the property hed destroyed. Shes even more taken aback when she only receives ha lf of the award because of the immense trouble [the officer] had incurred in hunting the Captain up, and the superior sum he had refused from that gentleman, as a bribe to let him leave the city.42 Though one could read her reaction as naivety on Helens part previous scenes in the novel demonstrate that she would have been intimately familiar with the corruption in local government. Upon entering Mrs. Burrass establishmen t, she had received a visit from a magistrate who had been sent to save her from the clutches of the prostitutes in the house, but instead of performing his official duty, he partook of Helens wares as a bribe by Mrs. Burras.43 Later, upon her earliest arrival in New York, she was let out of jail 41 Wilkes, 51. 42 Wilkes, 52. 43 Wilkes, 17-18.

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57 because the magistrate ta kes liberties with her.44 Since Helen is already well acquainted with the corruption of law enforcement, she would have no reason to expect fair treatment from them. In fact, she does not e xpect fair treatment; she expects that because of her position as a high class prostitute and because of her first-hand knowledge of police corruption, shell have the upper-hand. That her status as a prostitute works against her, making the magistrate view her complaint as frivolous, offends her. When the officer steals her money, she has no choice but to recognize that her degradation has indeed placed her in a class to which she feels superior. Wilkes narrator constantly establishe s Helens superiority over the other prostitutes with whom she comes into contact. Unlike the behavior of her peers, there was, however, nothing gaudy or vulgar in he r manner. She was always lady-like and elegant, and though her carri age was self-assured and fr ee, it was devoid of flashy ostentation or pert parade.45 Moreover, when Richard Robinson first encounters Helen, he is taken with her because her attire ev inced a cultivated taste, and her appearance demonstrates that she possesses a cultivated intellect and is well-bred.46 Just as Cinderellas rags cannot hide her natural grace and poise, Jewetts occupation does not interfere with her natural elegance and intelle ct. That Jewetts appearance belied her occupation and actual status makes her most appealing. Had she been gaudy or vulgar or dressed less fashionably and more flashily, there would have been no intrigue. Wilkes 44 Wilkes, 36-37. 45 Wilkes, 54. 46 Wilkes, 63.

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58 has either forgotten Jewetts green dress or vi ews it as part of what marks her as above other prostitutes. Perhaps, in Wilkes narrative, that Jewe tt seemed a walking contradiction was part of the attraction. As it was, her paramour s, especially Robinson, could maintain the fantasy of the virgin while having sex with the Magdalene.47 This fascination of the contradictory nature of one woman also fe d the frenzy surrounding her murder and the subsequent trial for years after. While Benne tt, Wilkes, and others certainly fabricated the details of Helens life, they captured her a ppeal perfectly.48 Jewetts charm and the combination of the virgin and the whore in one figure were not the only aspects of the cas e that elicited attention. The coverage of the murder and subsequent trial diverge from the fairy tale mo tifs in that the male protagonist of the story holds a contradictory appeal for readers. He is not the nameless rescuer of the princess about whom the reader knows little or nothi ng. Robinson intrigued readers because of the seeming contradictions in his outward appearance and his inner self. Though he had practically pronounced Robinson guilty but tw o days earlier, on Wednesday, April 13, 1836, and would later denounce the justice system that acquitted him, Bennett questions: Is it possible for a youth, hitherto unimpeach ed and umimpeachable in his character, to have engendered and perpetrated so diabolical an act as the death of Ellen Jewett was? Is 47 It is important to note that throughout Wilkes and Bennetts narratives, the reader is reminded that Jewett is not a virgin (even though both take great pains to establish her as worthy) by referring to her as the Magdalene. 48 Judge Weston, the head of the family who took Do rcas in as a servant when she was a child, was so outraged by the false accounts of her being like a sister to his children and like a daughter to his wife and himself, that he wrote a letter to the major newspapers to set the record straight. Still, proof exists of Helens dual personality. See Cohen The Murder of Helen Jewett ; Ann Royall, The Black Book; or, a Continuation of Travels in the United States (Washington, D.C.: NA, 1828 ) and testimony from the trial collected from and based on transcripts in various New York newspapers and published in The Trial of Richard P. Robinson, Before the Court of Oyer and Terminer on the 2nd of June, 1836, for the Murder of Ellen Jewett, on the Night of the 9th of April, 1836 (New York: George Wilkes, 1849).

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59 it the character of crime to ju mp at once from the heights of virtue to the depths of vice?49 Bennett quickly establis hes Robinson as a virtuous young man, a noble prince who has been caught up in a situation beyond his control, who has been framed for a crime he couldnt have committed. His dealings with a prostitute contradicted everything Bennetts readers knew about Robinson. Thus, describing Robinson as simply led astray by the attractions and temptations of the city worked to Bennetts advantage. Indeed, the figure of Robinson must have stru ck at the very core of read ers; their brothers and sons were similarly situated. Wilkes seems to recognize the appeal of Robinsons contradictory character too. Wilkes novel introduces Robinson about half way through, after the reader has already formed an attachment to Jewett. The narra tors first mention of Robinson plays upon the reputation described in Bennett: He was of the middle size, rather below it if anything, and there was to his gait and general carriage, a litheness and an elasticity which indicated extreme youth . he was manifestly genteel . he wa s a very handsome youth, of not more than eighteen years of age, [with] damask ch eek expansive blue eye, handsome mouth, and hair of golden brown, which curled about his temples.50 This description forces an impression of innocencethe extreme youth, the blonde hair, the blue eyes, all of hi s features conjure images of a handsome prince, not of a licentious murderer. The narrator of Wilkes novel begins to c ontradict this first impression with a tale of Robinsons seduction of an innocent orphan girl who lives with relati ves. At the same 49 Quoted in The Life and Writings of James Gordon Bennett, Editor of the New York Herald New York: NA, 1844. 17. 50 Wilkes, 57.

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60 time, the tale immediately questions whet her Robinson and other young men like him are actually responsible for their actions: What else could be expected of him? What else could be expected of the majority of youths similarly situated, and who, like him, are brought from the quiet routine of country life, to be plu nged into the midst of all th e intoxicating pleasures and dazzling temptations of this great Vanity Fair? . Having the appearance of a gentleman; being evidently taken for a gentleman; knowing what a gentleman should be, he of course, resolves to beha ve as much like a gentleman as possible; and liberality being necessary to the assume d character, he is tempted to sustain it, by slight loans from the till, which be ing repeated, settle into methodized peculation.51 The narrator excuses Robinsons conduct by blami ng the temptations of the city. Its not his fault that the temptations are there; its not his fault that he must steal to preserve his appearance. In fact, the narra tor doesnt refer to Robinsons actions as stealing; he takes slight loans from the till. Presenting thes e thefts as loans instead of small robberies again excuses Robinson from any real wrong-doing. Time after time, Wilkes defends Robins ons character from his own actions. When he sees Helen at the theatre, he doe s nothing to stop the two ruffians who accost her: Though not deficient in courage, he wa s not created for a knight-errant . Had he interfered, he might have been very well be aten without contributi ng any aid or comfort to his unknown flame.52 Here the narrator leads his r eader to believe that Robinsons creator is at fault for his not being a knight-errant. More importantly, the rational explanation that he may have been so badly be aten as to be useless in offering aid is so reasonable as to again remove the spot from his character. Whereas Perrault includes a moral at the end of his Blue B eard to make it clear to his readers that the blame in the 51 Wilkes, 60. 52 Wilkes, 65.

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61 story lies with the woman and not with her murderous husband, Wilkes creates a conflicted male figure, who is, like his fe male counterpart, neither wholly good nor wholly evil, and uses that c onflict to its full advantage. After establishing the tensions within R obinsons character, th e narrator takes the reader a few steps further into the young man s sensibility. When the narrator describes Robinsons journal entries cursing his empl oyer, who has made Robinson a veritable member of his family, the reader sees into his true character.53 Much later, the novel depicts Robinsons treatment of the young woma n whom he had seduced when he first arrived in New York. Not only does he repe atedly coax her from her family, he also attempts many times to set her up in a brothe l. Finally, once she has finally understood that his intent is to leave her for good rather than to marry such a degraded creature, she takes ill. Robinson visits the home of her nurse, and he dropped something into the medicinal brew that had been prepared fo r the ill woman. We later discover through Helen that what he dropped in was Arsenic!54 Robinsons actions toward Emma anticipate his relationship with and subsequent murder of Helen Jewett. Here, Wilkes diverges from the fairy tales and Bennetts motif of blaming women for the harm done to other women. While he is clear that wome n are to blame for Helens downfall, Wilkes does not shy from depicting the wrongs done to women at the hands of Robinson, in spite of the earlier rationalization of hi s thievery and lack of chivalry. 53 The narrator describes Robinsons journal: This was the record of course thoughts . but what showed in the most striking light his demoniac disposition was an entry which he mad on salary day, in relation to his income. After remarking at some length, on the insufficiency of this sum for his expensive course of life, he bestowed upon his employer . all the vulgar appellations within the range of confumelious epithet, ending with the maledictionCursed be he, twice, and all his family, forever! Wilkes, 67. 54 Wilkes, 59-62; 80-84; 96-97; 101-105.

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62 Robinsons diabolical pers onality emerges toward the end of Wilkes novel. When Helen is out of town, Robinson cavor ts with various women about town. A confrontation between Robinson and one of Helens friends ensues when she makes him aware that she knows of his infidelity: Why you dont think that Ive forgo tten Hester Preston and Elizabeth Salters, do you? Mere harmless visits, I assure you . . Well, if they were harmless visits . what will you tell me of the young lady at Mrs. Stewarts . . Robinson paused a minute and . then ma de an earnest request that his fair informer would not spread the circumstance any further. . [she told him] that he would have no right to complain if she (Helen) had revenge upon him, by exposing his licentio us and extravagant habits to his employer. . Why, I would blow her brains out! slowly and resolutely, through his teeth.55 Robinsons demeanor and threat foreshadow Jewetts murder. His threats come as no real surprise. Though found not guilty at tria l, by the time of Wilkes novel, Robinson was presumed guilty by many, including James Gordon Bennett, both in and out of the city. Surprisingly, Wilkes novel depicts a scen e where but a few short weeks prior to murdering her, Robinson stops Helen from killing herself. Though Robinsons rescue of Helen seems like the heroic act of a lover, the narrator makes it cl ear that Robinson is anything but heroic, descri bing it as a performance. 56 The narrator details the effect on Robinson: He had been disturbed for the moment, but the prospect of Helens death brought with it no real alarm, for it had long been the subject of his thoughts. When, therefore, she was declared convalescent, he felt as if his fortunes had miscarried 55 Wilkes, 99. 56 Wilkes, 111.

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63 and his brain, almost without intenti on, was driven to conjecture how the miscarriage might be remedied.57 Robinson cares nothing for Helen. He performs the role of the dutiful lover, but his thoughts have long entertained her demise. He feels no sadness that hes the source of her unhappiness that caused her suicide attempt. He only regrets that he saved her, revealing that he deserves none of the sent iment expressed by other authors and by the jury in his trial. When Wilkes addresses the murder and Robinsons trial, he provides none of the speculation that has filled the pages of hi s novelization. Instead, he paraphrases the reports of James Gordon Bennett, including Bennetts artic les in his footnotes. In fact the amount of text that Wilkes uses from Benne tt is so large that the difference between footnote and novel becomes difficult, if not impossible to discern.58 This confusion of fiction with Bennetts reality allows Wilkes to imply that his story is not a novel, but a real account of the lives of these young peopl e. The mere inclusion of Bennetts reporting confuses the line between noveliza tion and news, as Bennett changes opinions about the crime with each articl e he writes. By incorporatin g the reports into the novel in a manner that renders them almo st indistinguishable from one another, Wilkes establishes his novel as the definitive history of Helen Jewett and Richard Robinson. Indeed, Wilkes constructs the entire novel as though it is a fact ual representation of facts rather than a fictional account of the lives of Jewett and Robinson. In addition to presenting its author as the editor of the National Police Gazette to give the novel the appearance of news, the story has many footnotes that work to establish the events in 57 Wilkes, 111. 58 See Wilkes, 120-130.

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64 the story as fact. On the four th page of the text, Wilkes includes the following note about how young Dorcas lost her virginity: This story of the lover is not, as some will be ready to susp ect, the production of the imagination of the writer. It is rela ted in a series of epistles which Dorcas Doyen, when shame made her heiress of anot her name, directed in a friend. Their original draft, or copies, were found tr anscribed in a large scrap-book taken from the trunk at the time of her murder. In the reproduction of this portion of its contents, nothing is altered but the style. The letters were probably written during her career in Boston, as they are signed Helen Mar. They are, without doubt, accurate records, as far as they go, of her earliest attachment.59 Though Wilkes claims that the letters are lock ed in his newspaper o ffice, no other source corroborates even the existence of these letters Still, Wilkes uses this footnote and many others throughout the text to es tablish his story as fact rather than fiction. Some of his notes even provide citations, though thos e works he cites cannot be found. It is possible that given the more than 150 year s separating Wilkess period from our own, these works no longer exist. However, extens ive archival research has found no sources that even remotely resemble those he re ferences, making it likely that the author fabricated them all. Another device that Wilkes uses to esta blish the truthfulness of his tale is the inclusion of Helens letters to various param ours and their letters to her. Again, that these letters exist anywhere but in the mind of the author cannot be corroborated, yet because Wilkes claimed to have them in his possession, their plac ement in the text establishes the events therein as fact. Wilkes also builds on Bennetts reporting, by using Bennetts articles to build his novel. Yet Bennett was not the only influence at work. The immense popularity of fairy tales in America at this time spoke to the publ ics desire for litera ture that encouraged 59 Wilkes, 8.

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65 domesticity, passivity, domes ticity, and submission in wome n and gave the public access to womens bodies. Bennett real ized that the publics desire was a conflicted one. True, they wanted their wives and daughters to rema in chaste outside of marriage and passive in all matters outside the realm of the home. Yet the access that fairy tales granted to womens bodies did not satisfy a competing, voyeuristic desire for knowledge of women who refuse to adhere to such stifling role s as the Cult of True Womanhood demanded of women. Unlike the fairy tale princesses be fore her, Helen Jewett was a woman of the world, a prostitute, which granted the public full access to her sexual exploits and body without the guilt that would have been associated with a chaste woman. Bennett uses the fairy tales to create an accep table object of desire for his readers. He describes her in terms of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White as well as Cinderella, to make her a sympathetic victim. Too, he uses her position as a prost itute to provide his readers with access to an intensely erotic su bject. Bennett walked a narrow line in his conflicted depiction of Helen Jewett, but so did her other biographers. Wilkes novelization of Jewetts life take s the fairy tale Cinderella and imbues her with a natural, animalistic sexuality. In Wilkes novel, at eleven (or eight), Hele ns sexual nature has been awakened, and because of a few evil step mother figures, she is unable to tame it. Helens Snow-White-like naivety furthers th e image created in making her a Cinderella, making the reader sympathize with her even as she turns her back on propriety. Bennett and Wilkes also create a conf licted Richard P. Robinson. Bennetts changing position on the guilt and innocence of Robinson, while motivated by monetary gain, mirrors the publics wavering about the young mans culpability. Similarly, Wilkes creates a Robinson who is both in nocent and evil. He is not to blame because his creator

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66 did not instill a character of strength and fortitude, according to Wilkes novel, but he undeniably commits robbery and murder. In other words, Robinson is a Prince Charming who happens upon the good fortune of meeti ng the princess, and a Blue Beard who murders all of his wives. The novel tells its reader that yes, Robinson likely murdered Helen Jewett, but no, it wasnt entirely his fault. In the end, Helens death is both punishment for and recognition of her licen tious nature. A young woman who paraded about town in an infamous green dress and al ways carried a letter to attract attention and elicit remembrances from passersby, Helen lik ely would have enjoyed the attention that her dead body held for the public. The lover of romance and fiction in her would have been proud that she helped to inspire a new genr e that continued to feature versions of the beautiful young prostitute years after her murder.

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67 CHAPTER 4 NECROPHILIA AND INCEST IN POE: THE REVENGE OF THE DEAD-UNDEAD WOMAN The odd syndrome of child-love, necrophilia, and incest in Poe is too personal and pathological to shed much li ght on the general meaning of th e latter theme in American literature and life. It is not without interest, however, to refl ect that the tales of Poe have come to be thought of as a childrens classic. Leslie Fiedler, Love and Death in the American Novel1 As demonstrated in the Chapter 2, ninet eenth century American translations of fairy talesalso considered childrens classicscomb ined child-love, necrophilia, and incest, achieving immense popularity and re maining staples of American childhood for nearly two centuries. Edga r Allan Poe, too, combines these elements, and as Leslie Fiedler points out, his stories and poetry are de emed perfectly suitable for children. This chapter contends that, contrary to Fiedler s assertion, the odd syndrome at play in Edgar Allan Poes fiction does indeed shed lig ht on its general meaning in American culture. I will begin by establishing Poe's familiarity with fairy tales and the striking similarities among his tales, James Gordon Bennett's descriptions of Helen Jewett's corpse, and the fairy tales of Basile, Perrault, and the Grimms. Then I will examine the ways in which Poe's tales diverge from the fairy tales, creating horror alongside necrophilic desire. In his tales, Poe twists the familiar formula of the fairy tales into something new. His sleeping beauties such as Lady Madeline Ushe r and Ligeia return 1 Leslie Fiedler, Love and Death in the American Novel (New York: Criterion Books, 1960).

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68 from the grave, abjecting their male counterpart s. In The Fall of the House of Usher and other tales, such as Morella, Poe incorp orates incest to both titillate and repulse his readers, whereas in yet other stories and hi s poems, he uses a strange combination of necrophilia and child-love. Wh ereas the sentimenta l novels of the peri od identify with and appropriate the victims suffering,2 Poes tales twist that by having the victim appropriate the master by putting him in an abject position. Twisting fairy tales and the sentimental, Poe uses the Gothic to both appropriate those genres and undermine them. Poe worked to increase his readership. As such, he was forced to cater to the mob that he detested. Terence Whalen explains, Poe discovered that the mass audience could not read pure novelty. Dependent on the co mmon knowledge of the masses, yet driven by the onward rush of information, writers attempted to construct new effects out of old materials.3 Accordingly, Poe gave the mass audience what it wantedan odd syndrome of child-love, necrophilia, and ince st. Though these elements exist in the earliest versions of fairy tale s and continue to play subtle role in even our current versions, Poe takes this combination to more extreme limits and in a culture very different from those that were fi rst introduced to fairy tales. In the nineteenth century, children were first recognized as a category of person separate from adults. When the Grimms first published their fairy tales, the stories were full of incest, as in The Maiden with out Hands, and sexualized portrayals of young 2 Paula Bennett, Poets in the Public Sphere: The Emancipa tory Project of American Womens Poetry, 1800-1900 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), 54-56. 3 Whalen continues, For the mass audience, in other words, the use-value of reading consists not in intimations of unreachable bliss but in appeals to common fancies and desires. This means that the writerespecially the writer of geniusshould occupy a middle ground between absolute novelty and common knowledge. Terence Whalen, Edgar Allan Poe and the Masses: the Political Economy of Literature in Antebellum America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 46, 101.

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69 girls, as in Snow White. In subsequent ed itions, the Grimms toned down their tales to be more suitable for children, a c oncern they did not have in 1812.4 Poes time was only a few years removed from a time when childre n were seen as little adults and their sexuality seen as a given. He plays with contemporary taboos of in cest and child-love, knowing that his audiences reaction will mingl e dread with desire. Too, Poe plays with the emerging categories of child/adult, subjec t/object, and living/dead, and his tales play with the ways in which crossing these boundaries threatens patriarchal control. There is a direct relationship between Poes works and the fairy tales. As early as 1823, Sir Walter Scott wrote to Taylor of th e publics interest in the Grimms tales: There is also a sort of wild fairy interest in them. This wild interest was not confined to the Kinderund Hausmarchen A few sentences later, Scott tells Taylor that he and his friends have editions of tales from other countries, including Perrault.5 Like Sir Walter Scott and his friends, Poe knew the fairy tales well. In his Arabian Nights: a Companion Robert Irwin discusses the influence that The Thousand and One Nights had on Western authors, mentioning Poe's sa tire The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade as evidence.6 Poe was familiar not only with the versions of fairy tales in Arabian Nights, but also with the popular fa iry tales of the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Giambattista Basile. In August 1836, writing Pinakidia for the Southern Literary Messenger Poe explains a comparison of a par ticular work to The slipper of Cinderella: Cinderella is a tale of universal currency. An ancient Danish ballad has 4 See Fairy Tales and Society: Illusion, Allusion, and Paradigm ed. Ruth B. Bottigheimer (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986). See also The Reception of Grimms Fairy Tales: Responses. Reactions. Revisions ed. Donald Haase (Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1993). 5 Quoted in Ruth Michaelis-Jena, The Brothers Grimm (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970), 173-175. 6 Robert Irwin, Children of the Nights, Arabian Nights: a Companion (New York: Penguin, 1996).

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70 some of the incidents. It is popular among the Welchalso among the Polesin Hesse and Sweden . It is in the Italian Pe ntamerone under the title of Cenerentola.7 Poes awareness of Basiles Il Pentamerone signals that he was likely familiar with the more accessible tales of the Grimms and Perrault. He knew enough about George Cruickshank, the artist who illustrated Taylors translation of the Kinder und Hausmarchen to comment about his artistic contribution to Henry Cocktons Stanley Thorn Speaking about Cruickshank and a fello w contributor named Leech, Poe claims, It is observable that those of the latter [L eech] are more effective in every respect than those of the former and fa r more celebrated artist.8 Cruickshanks illustrations for the English translation of the Grimms tales were included in a collection of his work in 1827; thus, it is unlikely that Poe could be aware of this ce lebrated artist and not his fairy tale artwork. Poe's awareness of and familiarity with fairy tales become apparent in his short stories. Several, especially those featuring a dead or supposedly dead woman and her surroundings, bear remarkable likenesses to Grimms', Perraults, and even Basiles versions of the Sleeping Beauty story, as well as to the Grimms' Snow White and The Glass Coffin.9 Poes reviewers and critics noted this similarity as early as 1885 7 Edgar Allan Poe, Pinakidia, Southern Literary Messenger (August 1836), 577-578. 8 Edgar Allan Poe, Review of Stanley Thorn Grahams Magazine (January 1842), xx. 9 Poes poetry demonstrates these same characteristic s. See especially the fairy-tale-like beginning of Annabel Lee and the obvious necrophilia in this poem. See also The Raven in which the speaker laments his lost love Lenore and Poes Lenore in which the speaker speaks of the life upon her yellow hair.

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71 when one critic refers to Poes works as his fairy tales.10 Even earlier, an 1836 review for the Richmond Compiler questions, Why will he [Poe ] not disenthrall himself from the spells of German enchantm ent and supernatural imagery?11 Although this earlier review of Poe could be read as relating Poe to the German Romantics or even Gothics, its references to spells, enchantment, and supernatural imagery more closely resemble the Germ an fairy tales collected by the Grimms. Though Poe does not directly addr ess fairy tales as an infl uence, he mentions them numerous times in reviews, referencing Sl eeping Beauty in a re view of Hawthornes Twice-Told Tales and referring to Christopher Peas e Cranchs style as Cinderella Fancy.12 More importantly, Poes reviewers refer to his stories as fairy tales, an aspect that needs further exploration. Poe recognized an opportunity to increase readership by incorporating elements of popular fairy tales into his own works. Perhaps he took advantage of the particular dema nd for fairy tales, supplying the public's unstable and perhaps unfathomable tastes by incorporating the more macabre elements of the tales such as female corpses an d necrophilia and twistin g them into terror.13 10 Quoted in Lubov Breit Keefer, Poe in Russia, Poe in Foreign Lands and Tongues ed. Jeanne Rosselet, Lubov Keefer, Herbert Schaumann and Pedro Salinas (Baltimore: The Edgar A llan Poe Society, 1941): 17. 11 Richmond Compiler (February 1836), Bits and PiecesII, E. A. Poe Society of Ba ltimmore. 23 May 2003. 12 Edgar Allan Poe, Tale-WritingNathaniel Hawthorne, Godeys Ladys Book (November 1847), 252256. and Edgar Allan Poe, The LiteratiPart III, The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe vol. III (1850): 70. 13 As Terence Whalen argues, Since he could not supp ort himself by writing poetry, he had to adapt his talents to the unstable and perhaps unfathomable tastes of a distant mass audience. Some of his most extravagant tales were, by his own admission, composed 'to supply a particular demand.' Whalen, 7.

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72 The Oblong Box shares obvious themes in common with both Snow-White and The Glass Coffin. In Poes story, the narrator te lls of hearing the ma in character after his wife had left the room each night. He recounts: I fancied I could distinguish the precise moment when he fairly disengaged the lidalso, that I could determine when he removed it altogether, and when he deposited it upon the lower berth in his r oom . After this there was a dead stillness, and I heard nothing more, upon either occasion, until nearly daybreak; unless, perhaps, I may mention a low s obbing, or murmuring sound . I say it seemed to resemble sobbing or sighing . He had opened his oblong box, in order to feast his eyes on the pictorial treasure within . Just before dawn, on each of the two nights of which I speak, I distinctly heard Mr. Wyatt replace the lid of the oblong box, and force the nails into their old places, by means of the muffled mallet.14 At the end of the story, the reader finds out that Mr. Wyatts dead wifenot a painting as the narrator supposesis the pictorial treasure within the oblong box. Because the reader now knows that it is Mrs. Wyatts co rpse in the box, this portion of the narrative takes on a new meaning. Every night Mr. Wyatt disengaged the lid, removed it altogether, and deposited it upon the lower be rth in his room. The narrator surmises that Mr. Wyatt puts the lid on the lower bert h, or bunk, because there was so little room in his cabin. Given the ending of the stor y, the reader can suppose that Mr. Wyatt actually places it upon th e bunk because he is not sleeping there, sleeping, instead, inside the oblong box with his deceased wife. His sobbing, or murmuring sound, is now obviously attributable to the fact that his wife is dead and that he opens up her makeshift coffin to sleep with or, at least, feast his eyes on her each night. Poes Sleeping Beauty motif is most ev ident in one of the cases his narrator relates in The Premature Burial. Mons ieur Rnelle and every one who saw her 14 Edgar Allan Poe, The Oblong Box, Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays (New York: Library of America, 1984): 649-650.

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73 suppose his wife dead; thus, Monsieur R nelle has her buried. Her former lover journeys from the capital to the remote prov ince in which the village lies, with the romantic purpose of disinterring the corpse and possessing himself of its luxuriant tresses. When he unearths the coffin, he disc overs that the lady had been buried alive. Vitality had not altogether departed; and she was aroused, by the caresses of her lover, from the lethargy which had been mistaken for death.15 Poes tale builds upon and adapts the themes in Grimm and Perrault. The womans former lover, much like Bennett and the fairy tale princes, does not care that the woman is dead; rather, her corpse is just as (and possibly more) desirable than the woma n was when she was alive. Like Bennett, the dwarfs, and the princes, the lover yearns to have one fi nal look at her and to possess her or something that was once a part of her. In the fairy tales, es pecially Snow White, the men possess the heroines dead body; here the lover wishes to possess the dead womans luxuriant tresses. In contrast to the fairy tales, Premature Burial is more overt in its intentions. The lover has a r omantic purpose and he caresses her. Here Poe presents a more adult and overtly erotic theme than do either the Grimms or Perrault, while still centering the story in the overtly necrophilic. In both Perraults and the Grimms versions of the sleeping beauty tale, only a certain, preordained prince can pass thr ough the brambles surrounding the palace to awaken her. As the Grimms narrator explai ns, He stooped down and gave her a kiss. But the moment he kissed her she opened her eyes and awoke, and smiled upon him. In Poes story, even though vitali ty had not altogether depart ed, the prematurely buried 15 Edgar Allan Poe, The Premature Burial, Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays (New York: Library of America, 1984): 668.

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74 woman regains full consciousness only afte r the lover kisses and caresses her.16 In Sleeping Beauty and Brier Rose, the bram bles and thorns that part of their own accord signal a mutual encounter between th e prince and the sleeping beauty. In Poes tale, the womans subsequent relationship w ith her lover is also mutual. Not only does she only awaken after he arrives at her grave, but she also leaves with him, refusing to tell her husband that she is alive. More impor tantly, the story ends happily ever after with the woman fleeing with her lover and li ving out the rest of her days with him.17 Though it does not provide a happy ending, The Fall of the House of Usher also parallels the fairy tales. When read al ongside Snow White, a description of Lady Madeline is noticeably similar to that of th e fairy tale heroine. The narrator of the Grimms story explains, They (the dwarfs) would have burie d her, but that she looked still as if she were living, w ith her beautiful blooming cheeks.18 The narrators of both Poes and the Grimms stories note that th e woman is dead but looks alive. Lady Madeline has a mockery of a faint blush rather than simply a faint blush, thus implying that the blush is not real because she is dead.19 Snow White looked still as if she were living. Both descriptions allow the narrator to let his a udience know that the woman in question seems dead but may not be Moreover, because of the appearance of 16 Grimm, Brier Rose, German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by Gammer Grethel trans. Edgar Taylor (London: H. G. Bohn, 1823), 30. 17 Before the woman and her lover can live happily ever after, they encounter her husband on the street many years after her burial and resurrection, and she must sever her ties to her husband in a court of law. Nevertheless, the happily ever after motif survives as the womans plea to have her marriage ended by the court is granted and she and her lover continue to live with one another. 18 Grimm, Snow White, German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by Gammer Grethel trans. Edgar Taylor (London: H. G. Bohn, 1823), 155. 19 Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher, Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays (New York: Library of America, 1984): 329.

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75 life that the dead women possess, neither Ushe r nor the dwarfs can bring themselves to bury them. Though Usher claims that he does no t want scientists to dig up his sister to investigate her ailment, not burying her serves the same plot function as does the dwarfs refusal to bury Snow Whiteboth women come back to life. An even more striking similarity is the voyeurism that the tales dramatize and induce. As previously explained, Jame s Gordon Bennetts voyeurism mirrors the voyeurism of the prince in Snow White. Sim ilarly, Usher and the narrator of Poes story contribute to what David Reynolds describes as social voyeurism.20 They do not simply take Lady Madeline to her tomb; th ey remove the lid of her coffin and looked upon the face of the tenant. 21 Though there is no explicit sex in this passage, sexual desire is inherent. Why must they remove th e lid? That Poe places the scene at this point in the text demonstrates that the two men cannot leave without one final look at what Bennett called Jewett, the beautiful female co rpse. Moreover, placing Lady Madelines body in a room lying, at great depth, immediat ely beneath that portion of the building in which was my own sleeping apartment means that the narrator literally lies on top of the corpse every night. As with Bennetts account of Helen Jewett, the description of the home in Poes The Fall of the House of Usher resembles the home described in Perraults Sleeping Beauty. In Poe's tale, the na rrator describes the house as being infused with a sense of insufferable gloom, possessing bleak walls, being surrounded by decayed trees, and 20 David Reynolds, Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1988), 215. 21 Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher, 329.

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76 evoking in the narrator an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart.22 A valet takes him to see Usher in complete silence.23 These descriptions serve to let the reader know that the house is a place filled with death and decay. Late r, the narrator describes the lower parts of the house where they lay Lady Ma deline to rest as a region of horror and the rest of the home as the scarcely less gloomy apartments of the upper portion of the house.24 Here, the narrator sets up the house as a place of horror, thus foreshadowing the return of Lady Madeline. The narrator's descriptions in The Fall of the House of Usher are in keeping with the descriptions of the homes in which th e sleeping beauty of the fairy tales is imprisoned. In Perrault's tale, the narrator r ecounts the hero's reaction to the scenery of the home: He came into a spacious outward co urt, where every thing he saw might have frozen up the most fearless person with horror. There reigned all over a most frightful silence; the image of death every where shew ed itself; and there wa s nothing to be seen but stretched out bodies of men and animals all seeming to be dead.25 Both narrators describe the scenes in terms of horror and silence. Scenes of gloom or death are everywhere in both the House of Usher and the palace in which Sleeping Beauty lies. The narrator of The Fall of the House of Ushe r never actually uses the word death to describe the scenery, yet decayed trees, ins ufferable gloom, and bleak walls of the Usher home are as much the image of death as what the prince in Perrault's tale 22 Ibid, 317. 23 Ibid, 320. 24 Ibid, 329. 25 Charles Perrault, The Slee ping Beauty in the Woods, Histories or Tales of Past Times with Morals trans. Robert Samber (London: J. Pote & R. Montagu, 1729), 20.

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77 encounters. Moreover, both Poe's narrator a nd Perrault's prince experience a feeling of iciness or being frozen with terror upon first confronting the house or palace. In the sleeping beauty tale, the death and reanimation of the castle is inextricably linked to that of the heroine. When she di es, the castle dies; all work ceases and the entire structure exudes death. Upon the princesss awakening, the castle too awakens. Poes tale of the Usher family and house pl ays with the notion th at the home and its inhabitants are tied together. Yet, Poes st ory takes an already traditional characteristic of the Gothicthat the existence of the familial home is linked to that of the family itselfand twists it as he does other aspects of the Gothic and fairy tale traditions. The Usher home serves not only as a symbol of th e deterioration of the Usher family, but the home serves as antagonist, possessing self-awareness and causing the familys deterioration (and, finally, their deaths). Clearly, the narrator questions how much the House of Usher (meaning home) had affected the House of Usher (meaning the family). He speaks of the perfect keeping of the character of th e premises with the accredited ch aracter of the people, and . [speculates] upon the possible influence whic h the one, in the long lapse of centuries, might have exercised upon the other. He goes on to explain that the original title of the estate . House of Usher [was] an appell ation which seemed to include, in the minds of the peasantry who used it, both the family and the family mansion.26 Thus, the narrator recognizes the not only the ties between house and fam ily, but also the power of the ancestral home over the Usher line. 26 Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher, 319.

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78 In Poes tale, the narrator and Roderick discuss that the house seems sentient. Roderick insists that the evid ence and result of the house s sentience is discoverable . in that silent, yet importunate and terr ible influence which for centuries had moulded the destinies of his family, and which made him what I [the narrator] now saw him.27 The narrators choice of the word moulded to describe the houses effect on the Usher family holds a dual meaning. On the surf ace of the statement, the home shapes the family. As the home moulded and decayed, so did the family. But, mould also means to deteriorate and to so il. And although the use of moulded as a transitive verb does not usually carry either of thes e meanings, as an affective force upon the family, the home, according to Roderick, contri butes to the deterioration of the family, soiling and destroying them until they are no more.28 Just as The Fall of the House of Usher is similar to the Grimms and Perrault's fairy tales, Poe's Ligeia resembles bot h Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and Brier Rose. The narrator te lls us that Ligeia is charac terized by a marble hand, skin rivaling the purest ivory, and hair that is Raven-blac k, the glossy, the luxuriant and naturally curling tresses.29 Much as Bennett describes Je wett's corpse as the whitest Parian marble, the narrator of Ligeia uses the image of purest ivory to describe Ligeias skin, summoning visions of Snow White s skin that was as white as snow. 27 Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher, 327-328. 28 Roger Cormans 1960 movie version interprets Poes st ory in such a way that the house literally tries to kill the family. When the characters attempt to leav e the house, chandeliers fall, nearly killing them, and the house collapses around the dying Usher family at the closing of the movie. 29 Edgar Allan Poe, Ligeia, Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays (New York: Library of America, 1984): 263.

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79 The added image of Ligeia's raven-black ha ir furthers the comparison to Snow-White in that the latter's hair is as black as ebony.30 Ligeia also bears a strong resemblance to Perraults Sleeping Beauty in that the narrators of both tales describe the heroines beauty in terms of spectrality or divinity. Ligeia's beauty was the radiance of an opium dreaman airy and spirit-lifting vision more wildly divine than the phantasies wh ich hovered about the slumbering souls of the daughters of Delos.31 Thus, Ligeia's beauty is more th an divine; it is far above that conceived of by even the gods. Perrault's Sl eeping Beauty is described in a similar fashion. The narrator represen ts Sleeping Beauty as possessing bright, and in a manner resplendent beauty, [that] ha d something in it divine.32 The word divine tells the reader that the women are s uperior to any other woman, an idea taken even further in Ligeia when the narrator marries a woman he grows to hate because she is so unlike Ligeia. The storys ending recalls Be nnetts sexually aroused desc ription of Helen Jewetts corpse. Upon the transformation of Lady Ro wenas corpse into Ligeia, the narrator exclaims, Here then, at least, can I never can I never be mistakenthese are the full, and the black, and the wild eyesof my lost loveof the ladyof the LADY LIGEIA!33 Just as in the earlier passage by Bennett, the dashes evoke the heavy 30 Grimm, Snow-White, 148. 31 Poe, Ligeia, 263. In Greek myth Asteria, one of the Titanades, transformed herself into a meteor and threw herself into the ocean, becoming the island of De los in an attempt to escape Zeus. Her sister Leto came to this island seeking refuge and gave birth to Apollogod of music, medicine, prophecy, and poetryand Artemisgoddess of childbirth, harvest, and hunting. Bullfinchs Mythology (New York: Gramercy Books, 1979). 32 Perrault, 20. 33 Poe, Ligeia, 277.

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80 breathing of the narrator as he looks over th e corpse. His excitement builds with each dash. At last, unable to contai n himself, he releases this build-up as he shouts the name LADY LIGEIA! Yet, while Bennetts desi re is more restrained, Poes narrator communicates a desire mingled with horror. Unlike Jewett, Ligeia comes back from the dead to confront her voyeur, and though his desire has not dissipated, it is now mixed with dread. More so than in his inclusion of sexua l overtones in The Oblong Box and The Premature Burial, Poe adapts the motifs of the fairy tales in both The Fall of the House of Usher and Ligeia. While ill or dead, the women in Poes stories cannot resist the violence perpetuated by the male protagonists, but when they return from the grave, they frequently become a source of terror for the male narrators, who become the passive objects of the tales. Unlike Lady Madeline, Ligeia displays not only a violent passion, but also intellect while alive. The narrato r explains, I was sufficiently aware of her infinite supremacy to resign my self, with a child-like confidence, to her guidance through the chaotic world of metaphysical investigation at which I was most busily occupied during the earlier years of our marriage.34 Ligeia acts as loving and patient teacher to the child-like narrator. On he r deathbed, Ligeia does not complain of her discomfort. Rather, with a passion that amount ed to idolatry, she dwells upon her love for her husband.35 Ligeia controls her husband so much that she infantilizes him, which is why she must die. Her a ssertiveness takes too much pow er from her husband, and the only path to passivity is death. 34 Ibid, 265-266. 35 Ibid, 267.

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81 Moreover, the narrator of Ligeia not only mistreats his new wife, Lady Rowena, but also may have killed both wi ves, the objects of his desire.36 The passivity of death cannot contain the active will of Ligeia. In he r return from the grave, Ligeia no longer lovingly teaches her husband; instead, she beco mes an active terror for both the narrator and his audience. As Karen Weekes suggests, The narrator is terrified by Ligeias reappearance not so much because it mean s she has conquered death but because she does it through an act of vehement will, a pow erful volition that renders him prostrate.37 Leland S. Person similarly argues that Ligeia s return also expl odes the Angel in the House ideology.38 Whereas Snow White and Sleepi ng Beauty awake to marry their princes and live happily ev er after likely as domesti c goddesses, Ligeia returns to wreak terror upon her husband. Women writers like Charlotte Perkins Gillm an in The Yellow Wallpaper used the gothic to demonstrate the ho rrors of domestic ideology. Poes gothic tales undo any pretended subversion that they offer of th at domestic ideology. Like the poetry of women in the antebellum period, Poes tale s cleave to the figure of the Angel nonetheless, ignoring the price paid by livi ng women forced to die into this role.39 Though Poes tales do demonstrate that women die to become the pious, passive objects that men desired, the dead, passive woman is desi rable. Even still, his focus is not on the 36 Cynthia Jordan, Second Stories: The Politics of Language Fo rm and Gender in Early American Fiction (Chapel Hill: University of Nort h Carolina Press, 1989), 135-139. 37 Karen Weekes, Poes Feminine Ideal, The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe ed. Kevin J. Hayes (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002): 159. 38 Leland Person, Poe and Nineteen th-Century Gender Constructions, A Historical Guide to Edgar Allan Poe ed. J. Gerald Kennedy (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2001), 145. 39 Paula Bernat Bennett,, 116.

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82 price the women have paid to conform to so cietal expectations about domesticity and become desirable. When his women ch aracters transgress the boundaries between masculine and feminine norms, they wreak havoc on their male counterparts, with whom the reader sympathizes because the male is the teller of the tale. While dead, she is the most poetical topic in the wo rld, but when reawakened, she becomes more than an object.40 She is an active force that creates terr or in the heart of her husband because she steps outside of her role as a passive object and firmly places him in that role. Similarly, in The Fall of the House of Us her, Roderick Usher does not attempt to rescue his sister from her premature entomb ment even though he comes to know that she is still alive. When Lady Madeline arises from the depths of her tomb, she kills her brother: For a moment she remained trembling and reeling to and fro upon the thresholdthen, with a low moaning cry, fell heavily inward upon the person of her brother, and in her violent and now final death-agonies, bor e him to the floor a corpse, and a victim to the terrors he had anticipated.41 Though Lady Madeline also dies in this scene, she is entirely active. She fell, but she also bore [Roderick] to the floor. Because Usher has been anticipating Lady Ma delines rising from her tomb, she is the terror to which he becomes the victim. Because Madeline and Ligeia refuse to die, they refuse to accept their subordinate positions. Elizabeth Bronfen explains, Death is not just the end of organic existence, but also the removal of a social being from society.42 Upon the assumed deaths of Ligeia 40 Edgar Allan Poe, The Philosophy of Composition, Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays (New York: Library of America, 1984): 1379. 41 Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher, 335. 42 Elizabeth Bronfen, Over Her Dead Body: Death, Femininity, and The Aesthetic (New York: Routledge, 1992): 77.

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83 and Madeline, the narrator of Ligeia and Roderick Usher stand erect, imbued with a feeling of superiority over the supposedly dead woma n who is in the passive, horizontal position, cut down, fallen.43 The narrators of these two stories attempt to remove Ligeia and Madeline from society, to retain their power, but the women's returns from their graves illustrate men' s fear that this is an impossi ble feat. The abjection of the narrator conveys an important message of fear to othersBeware the willful woman; she is dangerous. In the fairy tales of the Grimms, Perrault, and Basile, in Bennet ts descriptions of Jewetts Corpse, and in Poes short stories, men control the narratives. In The Oblong Box and The Premature Burial, Poe reta ins these formulas, tw isting them by making them more overtly necrophilic. In other tales, Poe twists these formulas even more, ending them with the return of the dead woman. But Poes reanimated women are no Sleeping Beauties or Snow Whites, content to live happily ever after with whoever is standing close by when she awakens. When she reappears, as in Ligeia and The Fall of the House of Usher, she functions to demonstrate mens fear of women who refuse passivity, instead asse rting their own will. Whereas scholars like Person suggest that the tale can be read from a womans poi nt of view for its depiction of the domestic Angels revenge, the fact that the narration is first-person presents a serious difficulty to reading it from a woma ns point of view.44 The reader has no insight into the female characters, no insight into their motives for r eappearing after their deaths. The I of the male narrator places the reader solely within hi s perspective. It is the mans terror, mens 43 Bronfen, 65. 44 Person, 145.

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84 fear of the truly active woman, that the reader experiences. If the Grimms encouraged passivity in women through their tales, Poe demonstrated the terror that active women created. Most critics have overlooked the mingling of terror of and desire for a female corpse, the inherent necrophili a, at work in Poes tales.45 Even when scholars mention necrophilia, it is frequently in relation to the erot ic fiction of the time, not to Poe. David Reynolds, who notes that Antebellum erotic novels, most of whic h fall into the Dark Adventure or Subversive categories, co mmonly included scenes with necrophilic undertones, later differentiate s this popular genre from what he calls the major literature.46 In contrast, in Leslie Fiedler's di scussion of the theme of incest in Poes work, he refers to The Fall of the House of Usher and Lady Madelines return from the grave: It is the most horrific of Liebestods the ultimate expressi on of Poes obsessive dream of being possessed by the dead, raped by a cadaverous sister-beloved, elsewhere projected in the st ory of Ligeia, who returns fr om death to take over the body of a second bride. But there is in Poe a complementary desire to possess the dead, to return embrace for embrace, viola tion for violation. At its mildest and most conventional, this longing is satisfied in fantasies of lovers joined as fellow ghosts beyond the grave or chatting cozily after the cataclysmic destruction of the world. . Occasionally, however, Poes necrophiliac heroes descend living into the tomb . .47 Here Fiedler recognizes the necrophilia inherent in Poes works, but he does so in the context of incest, quickly moving from Poe to incest in the works of Hawthorne and 45 In addition to Terence Whal en, see J. Ge rald Kennedy, Poe, Death, and the Life of Writing (New Haven: Yale UP, 1987) and David Leverenz, Spanking The Master: Mind-Body crossings in Poes Sensationalism, A Historical Guide to Edgar Allan Poe ed. J. Gerald Kennedy (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2001), 106. 46 Reynolds, 221, 222. 47 Fiedler, 399-400.

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85 Melville. In his other discu ssions of Poe, Fiedler focuse s on the biography and popularity of the author without any furt her mention of necrophilia. Even in works where necrophilia in ninete enth century America is central, critics gloss over Poe. For example, Russ Castronovos Necro Citizenship: Death, Eroticism, and the Public Sphere in the Ni neteenth-Century United States fails to fully engage Poes use of necrophilia. Inves tigating the intersections between death, citizenship, and the public sphere, Castronovo argues that necr o ideology presents a means of going beyond thematic readings of death by draw ing attention to knowledges and discourses that produce dead citizens. That is, necro id eology offers a point of intervention in a public sphere that fears radically democratic and contestatory poli tics as overly vibrant and animated.48 In his book, Castronovo discu sses mediums, mesmerism, and ghostwriting alongside th e literary works of Emerson, Hawthorne, and Harriet Jacobs. It would seem that any argument dealing with necrophilia, especially one that includes discussions of mesmerism, would have to di scuss Poe. Yet in his argument, Castronovo never launches into a discussion of any length a bout the author.49 Moreover, in writing about th e specific tales that I am examining, scholars tend to focus their attentions on other aspects of th e texts such as the reliability of Poes narrators, psychological breakdown in The Fall of the House of Usher, Ligeias race, or the patterns of death and re surrection that recur in Poes fiction. Some critics have attempted to fashion Poe into a male feminist ahead of his time. Cynthia Jordan argues for this vision of Poe, claiming that there are, in fact, three phases evident in Poes 48 Russ Castronovo, Necro Citizenship: Death, Eroticism, and the Public Sphere in the Nineteenth-Century United States (Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2001), 14-15. 49 Only five pages of text and two notes even mention him.

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86 fiction, and that the second and third phases progress toward a reject[ion of] one-sided male authored fictions and to a new ficti onal forma second story that provides a text for female experience. In the third phase the detection stories featuring androgynous Auguste Dupin, Jordan argues, Poe create d a new and unquestionably heroic caretaker of social and political order, and Dupin fulfills these responsibilities by going beyond the imaginative limits of the male storytellers around him and fully recovering the second storythe womans storythat has previously gone untold.50 Jordans argument is an interesting one, but it overlooks one importa nt detail of Poes worka female narrator tells only one story, a satire of sensation fiction and women wr iters titled How to Write a Blackwood Article. Every other Poe tale is narrated by a man. The Fall of the House of Usher, the tale Jordan singles out as representative of Poes second phase, all but ignores the female point of view. The narrator and Roderick Usher bury the lone female character, La dy Madeline, alive. Seconds before Lady Madeline reappears, her brother proclaims, We have put her living in the tomb! Said I not that my senses were acute! I now tell you that I heard her fi rst feeble movements in the hollow coffin. I heard themmany, many days ago. If the androgynous Usher does, as Jordan argues, clear a space for fema le experience, why is it that he does not set his sister free upon hearing her trying to escape from her coffin? Why is he only now ,a word emphasized in Poes textmany, many days later, telling the na rrator that they buried Lady Madeline alive? Clearly, Ushers tr ue intent is not to reveal a second story; he wishes to bury Lady Madeline, to rid himsel f of the feminine completely. Yet, Usher 50 Jordan, 135. Similarly, Leland S. Person argues, Even as male characters work to transform women into aesthetic objects, female characters resis that ef fort . Poe criticizes the objectifying tendencies of his male characters. See Aesthetic Headaches: Women and a Masculine Poetics in Poe, Melville, and Hawthorne (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1988), 23.

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87 vanishes into the crack as the house falls apart. Perhaps the true second story of this tale is the revenge of the dead-undead woman and the abjection of the male. As Ushers twin, Lady Madeline represents his feminine side; her presence disrupts his identity and nineteen th century ideals of femaleness. Usher's attempt to rid himself of his feminine identity exemplifies Julia Kristeva's theory of the abject in works of horror. Kristeva explains that the abject draws me toward the place where meaning collapses. . It lies outside . And yet, from its place of banishment, the abject does not cease challenging its master."51 Roderick's relationship with Ma deline leads him into abjection. Not only are they twins, but the narrator implie s that the siblings ar e also lovers, causing the meaning of his identity as her brother to collapse.52 That the Ushers' family structure and Roderick's identity collapse is nothing new in the Gothic. William Patrick Day tells us, The past that creates fear in the Gothic fantasy is not so much the past of the ancient regime as it is the immedi ate past of parents and family.53 Poe's Gothic challenges this past, disrupting a nd eventually destroying it. Madeline continues to challe nge Roderick even after he attempts to bury her and the family curse of incest and insanity, and Usher must die when Ma deline returns from the grave. He becomes abject when th e dead-undead Madeline appears outside the 51 Julia Kriesteva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection Trans. Leon S. Roudiez, (New York: Columbia UP, 1982), 2. 52 The narrator explains early in the story, I had learned, too, the very remarkable fact, that the stem of the Usher race, all time-honored as it was, had put forth, at no period, any enduring branch; in other words, that the entire family lay in the direct line of de scent, and had always, with very trifling and very temporary variation, so lain. Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher, 318. 53 William Patrick Day. In the Circles of Fear and Desire: A Study of Gothic Fantasy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), 32.

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88 door to his study. Madeline returns, falls heavily inward upon [Rodericks] person.54 Even Madelines final action blurs boundaries collapses meaning, as she gives birth to Ushers death. Usher anticipat ed Madeline's return, the retu rn of the abject. He is unable to rid himself of it, and it returns, vi olently obliterating his pe rson in a final act of revenge.55 In a similar act of willful vengeance, Lige ia returns from the dead, abjecting the person of the narrator. From the beginni ng of his story, the narrator describes his relationship with Ligeia and hi s grief at her demise and death in ambiguous terms. The very first sentence highlights th e ambiguity of their relationship: I cannot, for my soul, remember how, when, or even precisely wher e, I first became acquainted with the lady Ligeia. A few lines later, he explains, And now, while I write, a recollection flashes upon me that I have never known the paternal name of her who was my friend and my betrothed, and who became the partner of my studies, and finally the wife of my bosom.56 Most couples can recount every mi nute detail of their first meeting, and husbands do not forget their wives maiden na mes. The narrator refers to Ligeia as his beloved, yet he knows very little about her. He forgets significant details about her, and his attempts to convey the emotions he experienced during her illness and death are equally uncertain. He recalls, How poignant then, must have been the grief at discovering Ligeias waning health. The narrator does not reca ll that his grief was poignant, just that it must have been. 54 Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher, 335. 55 See also Diane Lond Howeveler, The Hidden God and the Abjected Woman in 'The Fall of the House of Usher, Studies in Short Fiction 29.3 (1992): 385-395. 56 Poe, Ligeia, 262.

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89 The narrators seeming forgetfulness is an atte mpt to rid himself of the abject. If he cannot tell us about Ligeia, then he is free fr om her power. Yet, like any attempt to rid oneself of the abject, his fails. She return s in Rowenas body, e xploding the narrators assertions that the two wome n were so different. The na rrators own meaning rests upon the notion that his second wife was so unlike Ligeia that he hates her. When Ligeia returns from the dead in Rowenas body, the reader sees that they are the same and meaning collapses. The strong-willed female refuses to be removed from the story. Ligeia refuses to die. She returns with ea ch retelling and, so, refuses to be forgotten. Contrary to Jordans argument that this is some sort of feminist move on Poes part, it, demonstrates the horror of the female will. Ligeias husband tells the tale; the first person narrative places the reader in a positi on of empathy with the narrator. His horror (and desire) at her retu rn is our horror. The horror of Poes tales does not always lie only in the return of the willful woman from death. Many of his tales incor porate incest among their themes. In The Fall of the House of Usher, the reader know s little about the in cest between Roderick and his sister Madeline; the re ader is simply told that th eir family tree has no enduring branch. The incest at work in Berenice occurs between seemingly consenting parties of similar standing, whereas in Morella th e narrators daughter literally becomes a substitute for her deceased mother. The vary ing degrees of incest in these tales function in different ways. In The Fall of the House of Usher and Berenice, they are symptoms of the narrators madness and obsession with their female victims. The incest and seeming pedophilia in Morella, on the other hand, are significan t contributors to the actual horror of the tale.

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90 In Berenice, a tale of a mans obsessi on with his cousin, the narrator, unlike many of Poes others, tells the reader his name, Egaeus.57 Not only do we know the narrators name, but he is the only narrator to admit his mental illness. These factors force the reader into a tenuous relationship w ith Egaeus. On the one hand, the narrative is in the first-person, so the reader feels comp licit as he reads I over and over. On the other hand, the addition of pers onal details about the narrat or allows the reader to consciously remember that he is not a part icipant, that a madm an is recounting his misdeeds. While the reader may feel sympathy with Egaeus., the reader is not forced into a position where he is em pathetic and understanding. More importantly, Egaeus points out that he and Berenice, the alleged subject of the tale, were not only cousins, but that they grew up together in [his] paternal halls.58 When the reader later learn that Egaeus ha s proposed marriage, the reader is mildly shocked because he has just explained that he had never loved her; his proposal comes during an evil moment.59 Havelock Ellis explains that when people grow up together, they become accustomed to one another, a nd any incestuous desire that might exist disappears during puberty. Ellis goes on to expl ain that examples of really passionate incestuous attraction . ar e nearly always between those persons who have been separated during the pubertal period, so that the dulling effect of familiar life on the development of sexual stimuli has been suspended.60 Assuming Ellis assertion is true, 57 Edgar Allan Poe, Berenice, Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays (New York: Li brary of America, 1984): 225. 58 Ibid, 226. 59Ibid, 229. 60 Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex. Volume III. (New York: Random House, 1936). 507.

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91 why then would Berenice have harbored feelings of love for the narrator? He tells us, She had loved me long. If they had ind eed grown up together, shouldnt her love for Egaeus have become more like that of a sister for a brother? Clear ly, something is amiss in their relationship and in their development. That the narrator has never loved Berenice comes as no surprise. He begins his tale discussing Berenice and the illness which had befallen her, yet in the middle of the paragraph he launches into a detailed discus sion about himself, continuing for several paragraphs before again mentioni ng the title character of his tale When he returns to her, it is only in reference to his percepti on of her and her disease as caused by his monomania: True to its own character, my disorder reveled in the less important but more startling changes wrought in the physical frame of Berenicein the singular and most appalling distortion of her personal identity.61 And while the tale carries Berenices name as its title, the entire tale has very little to do with her. His cataloging Berenices features along w ith his admission that he does not love her demonstrate Egaeus perception of her as an object rather than as a lifemate. Like the narrator of Ligeia, Egaeus de tails his objects features: My burning glances at length fell upon the face. The forehead was high, and very pale and singularly placid; and the once jetty hair fell partially over it, a nd overshadowed the hollow temples with innumerable ringlets now of a vivid yello w, and jarring discordantly, in their fantastic character, with the reigning me lancholy of the countenance. The eyes were lifeless, and lusterless, and seemingly pupil-less.62 61 Poe, Berenice, 229. 62 Ibid, 230.

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92 Here and in Ligeia and other tales, Poe ma kes literary use of what Laura Mulvey calls the male gaze.63 Though Mulvey coined the term sp ecifically in reference to film, Poes works clearly lend themselves to similar discussion. Each of Poes tales that is told by a male narrator forces the reader into a position where he is viewing the story and the woman from a male point of view. As mentioned earlier, the tales refuse to incorporate the fema le experience. Like Ligeia, Berenice is no longer a person to either the narrator or th e reader. She is only a composite of her features. In fact, Egaeus does not even acknowledge that thes e features belong to her. They are merely the forehead, the eyes, the once jetty hair. The reader does not really become complicit in Egaeus' actions but he revels not only in the narrators objectification of the woman, but also in hi s perversions, which range from incest to murder to violation. Still, Egaeus, in tel ling Berenice, involves the reader in his monomania. As he becomes fixated on Bere nices teeth, so t oo does his reader. Because he can think of nothing more, the reader can think of nothing more. His confusion about his violation of Berenices gr ave is the readers c onfusion, and his horror is the readers horror. Unlike the narrator of Ligeia and Roderick Usher, Egaeus never suffers abjection at the hands of his victim. He viol ates Berenice, rather than her returning to violate him. Berenice is bur ied, and though the reader can in fer that she was not really dead when Egaeus pulled out all of her teeth, she does not return. Si nce she never played a large role in the tale that bears her name, it is not surprising that the tale ends without even a glimpse at her reanimat ed form. More importantly, Egaeus is so unsure himself of 63 Laura Mulvey, Visual and Other Pleasures (London: Macmillan, 1989).

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93 the events of the tale that the reader cannot be certai n that Berenice was alive. The ending is ambiguous, yet it is clear that Eg aeus has succeeded of ridding himself of the female completely, at least as far as his na rrative is concerned. Even when the servant comes in to speak to him of a wild cry dist urbing the silence of the night . of a violated graveof a disfigured body enshroude d, yet still breathing, st ill palpitating, still alive!64 he never mentions Berenice by name. She has become a disfigured body without name and without gender. Whereas the incest in Berenice seems mostly consensual and its horror lies in the monomania of its narrator, in Morella the narrator is in a position of authority over his daughter; thus, a part of the horror of the tale lies in th e implication of incest between father and daughter. Here is another of Po es un-fairy tales. Taking off from the incest tales of Basile, Perrault, and the Gr imms, Poe incorporates the basic elements of the 510b tale type, which is characterized by a father who wishes to marry his daughter. Morella the mother sets the events of the tale in motion by cursing her husband as she breathes her last breath: The days have ne ver been when thou couldst love mebut her whom in life thou didst abhor, in death thou shalt adore.65 Morella goes on to explain that she is pregnant and that after her death, her child will live, but the hours of thy happiness are over; and joy is not gathered twice in a life.66 The narrator is confused by Morellas words, but soon, the re ader learns that her curse ha s dire consequences for her daughter. 64 Poe, Berenice, 232. 65 Edgar Allan Poe, Morella, Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays (New York: Li brary of America, 1984): 236. 66 Ibid, 236.

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94 The first person narration forces a part ial obliteration of th e reader-narrator boundary, thus placing the reader in the position of the lecherous father. Poes tale does not include the father demanding that hi s daughter marry him, but the narrator demonstrates that he has complete control over her. The narrator tells the reader that after the death of his wife and birth of their daughter, And she [his daughter] grew strangely in stature and in intellect, and was the perfect resemblance of her who had departed, and I loved her with a love more fe rvent than I had believed it possible to feel for any denizen of earth.67 Although most parents talk about loving their child more than they thought it was possible to love anyone, few would describe that love as fervent. The narrator continues, but terrible, oh! terrible were the tumultuous thoughts which crowded upon me while watching th e development of her mental being.68 What, the reader wonders, were these terrible though ts? The narrator provides more clues: And, as years rolled away, and I gazed, day after day, upon her holy, and mild, and eloquent face, and pored over her maturing form day after day did I discover new points of resemblance in the child to her mother, the melancholy and the dead.69 Again, the male gaze is important to this tale. Because it is told from the male point of view, the reader is not allowed to symp athize with either Morella or her daughter. The readers sympathy lies with the narrator, a nd part of the horror of the tale results directly from this 67 Ibid, 237. 68 Ibid, 237. 69 Ibid, 237.

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95 aspect. The narrator g aze(s) at his daughters maturing form. There is no mention of her gazing at her father; this is a st rictly one-sided power relationship. The father holds the power to name his daughter, waiting to name her until she has matured. He tells the reader that his da ughter remained nameless upon the earth for two lustra, or ten years. Because she ha s no name, she has no identity separate from that of her father. The narrator refers to he r in terms of his owners hip of her, calling her my child and my love alternately. These references not only demonstrate the narrators possession of and power over his da ughter, they also hint further at an inappropriate relationship with her. Wher eas my child is innocent enough, my love is often reserved for ones lovers. Because of the girls resemblance to her mother, the narrator snatched from the scrutiny of the wo rld a being whom destiny compelled me to adore, and in the rigorous seclusion of my home, watched with an agonizing anxiety over all which concerned the beloved.70 Another of Poes narrators seems unable to recognize a woman as a person; she is a b eing or the beloved. The narrators objectification of his daughter further complicates the fact that the girl has no name. He refers to her only in terms that demonstrate his possession of her, in terms that make her an object. Then, he locks her away from the rest of the world so that she is his and only his. The ending of the tale symbolizes the fa thers incestuous relationship with the daughter. When it is time for his daughters ba ptism, the narrator must name her. The only name that he can utter is the name of his deceased wife, Morella. Immediately following the utterance, the new Morella beco mes her mother, the original source of her 70 Ibid, 237.

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96 fathers obsession.71 The narrator becomes obsessed with his daughter because she grows to resemble her mother so closely; in naming her Morella, the narrator has completed the inevitable. He has denied her an identity of her own until this point when he gives her the identity of her mother. Th is moment literalizes what has been happening throughout the story. Because the narrator has recount ed his wifes dying words, the reader, who is put in the position of sympathizing and empathizing wi th the narrator, sees the mother as being entirely at fault. Her words, like those of the mothers in the type 510b fairy tales, cause her husband to fall in love with their daughter, a mere ten-year-old child. In Poes tale, as in the fairy tales, the father suffers no real punishment. Diverging from the fairy tales, however, Poe creates another un-fa iry tale in which there is no happy ending. The girl is struck down dead, rather than living through a se ries of hardships to marry a prince. And whereas the prince in the fairy tales may, in f act, have abused the princess prior to their marriage, at least she is alive and seems ha ppy. In Poes horror tales, there are no happy endings. The narrator christ ens his ten-year-old, nameless child with the name of her mother, and she immediately suffers the same fa te as her mother. Before the narrator can find happiness, Morellas curse comes to fruition. Again, a willful woman wreaks havoc on her family, disrupting the domestic sphere. She refuses the angel in the house role of caretaker and spiritual guardian, opting instead to seek vengeance on a husba nd who has shown her little affection and much loathing. Morella, unlike the true woma n of the nineteenth century, exhibits a powerful and profound intellect She even goes so far as to teach her husband about 71 Ibid, 238.

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97 literature, philosophy, and religion early in their marriage. Something, the narrator claims to know not what, causes him to loathe herthe sight of her, her touch, the sound of her voice, and the look in her eyes. Pe rhaps the narrators infatuation with the uniqueness of Morella had faded into abhorrenc e of one who so brazenly flaunted her disregard for the rules of proper ladies. Mo rella seems to understand his disgust with her far more than he does. Her intellect and her will combine to seek vengeance upon him. Her willful vengeance and its effects horrify both the narrator and the reader. The reader does not feel any empathy for Morella, or ev en for her daughter. The readers empathy lies with the narrator only, cr eating another un-fairy tale in which no one lives happily ever after. The narrator of this tale, however tro ubled, is spared abjection. Unlike Egaeus and the other narrators and Roderick Usher, the narrator of Morella even seems sane. In the other tales, the return of the dead woman poses a danger to the male who has attempted to rid himself of the female. Here Morellas return only results in her death for a second time. The female is completely erased; thus, the narrat or does not have to face that which blurs boundaries and forces the questioning of meaning. He is spared abjection because the erasure of the female is complete. Poes use of the incest motif mirrors his use of necrophilia in recycling plots from popular fairy tales. In his necrophilic tales of women's returning from their graves, Poe takes advantage of the public's knowledge of the Sleeping Beau ty and Snow White tales. In the incest tales, Poe takes advant age of the public's knowledge of incest fairy tales like All Fur and Donkey-Skin. In each of these tales, a widowed king can find no woman who is as perfect as his own daught er. Thus, he plans to marry her, making

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98 her his queen and the replacement for her mother much as the narrator of Morella does with his daughter. Poe recycles this familiar formula, creating something quite differenttales of madness and obsession. Tales of madness recounted by mad men, Poe's stories borrow from the familiar, yet they are novel in their own right. Poe delivers necrophilia and incest to titillate his readers. Then he turns their desire into horror as the male becomes abjected and descends further into madness. He deliver s tales that repeatedly disrupt and then reinforce antebellum America' s fear of independent, inte lligent women who dared to transgress gender roles. Wh ereas How to Write a Black wood Article does this through humor, the tales that have become the most famous are the ones th at do this through the mingling of desire and horror.

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99 CHAPTER 5 SUBVERTING CAPITALISM, SUBVERTING FAIRY TALES: WICKED WITCHES AND LIBIDINOUS BEAUTIES IN GEORGE LIPPARDS THE QUAKER CITY The book actually is no more sensational th an Lippards other works, but only more impressively fantastic. Its elaborate de vices for pure deviltry place it among gothic probings of the nerve, and the extravagant em otional tone of Lippard s shockers as well as Freudian and metaphysical suggestiveness make him more interesting as an explorer of the dark underside of mans nature. But his reforming intent is clear both from biographical evidence and from details of believable urban corruptionlechery and prostitution, hypocrisy, slums and other mani festations of economic injusticethat operate on the level of exaggera ted fact suitable to expose. Janis P. Stout, Sodoms in Eden: The City in American Fiction before 18601 Both a contemporary and a descendant of Edgar Allan Poe, George Lippard received inspiration from material similar to that which inspired Poe. Using a ripped from the headlines approach in The Quaker City, or, Th e Monks of Monk Hall (1845), Lippard builds upon Poes use of real crime st ories and fairy tales motifs, as well as alluding to some of Poes actual work. Un like Poes work, however, Lippard levels a pseudo-Marxist critique of capitalism and all of its repressive structures. Still, the novels ideology is a conf licted one. To catapult The Quaker City to bestselling status, Lippard opposes capitalism while manipulating it by appealing to the publics taste for sensationalism. Lippard uses the popular tr opes of incest, necrophilia, greed, and murder to create an apocalyptic fairy tale pr omoting the destructi on of capitalism. George Lippards adult life reveals much about his literary pursuits. He entered seminary to become a Methodist minister, but before completing his education, Lippard 1 Janis P. Stout, Sodoms in Eden: The City in American Fiction before 1860 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1976), 39.

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100 dropped out of school, later citi ng the hypocrisy of the clergy as the reason. Lippard then turned to unionizing workers and other oppressed Americans. He founded the Brotherhood of the Union, an organization dedi cated to pursuing safe working conditions and fair pay for laborers, and he founded and edited the Quaker City Weekly newspaper, which devoted itself to the same cause, pursu ing social reform through the medium of popular literature.2 In it, he maintained, There ar e only two nations in the worldthe OPPRESSED and the OPPRESSORS. A ll other distinctions are vain.3 The literature published in the Quaker City Weekly reflected this belief, and it clung to George Washingtons assertion that fi ctional literature was one of the most powerful avenues for true social and political change.4 In his allegorical writings for the Quaker City Weekly Lippards claims against capitalism resemble those of Karl Marx, though the two presumably had never met nor read each others work: The present system of Cap ital and Labor, which regards wealth as the sole object of legislation and sends by a slow de ath at least one hundred thousand human beings to their graves every year. This system regards men and women and children, immortal souls born of God and redeemed by Christas of less value than a bit of dumb machinery. It make s laws for those who have Money at the expense of those who do not have Money.5 Lippards weekly also addressed issues relating to the forced sale of Indian lands and the politicians who swindled them out of the miserable pittance which was offered as a price, both white slavery in the factor ies and black slavery, the double standard by 2 Quaker City Weekly (June, 23, 1849). 3 Qtd in George Lippard: An Anthology ed. David S. Reynolds (New York: Peter Lang, 1986), 45. 4 Jane Tompkins, Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, 1790-1860 (New York: Oxford UP, 1985), 45. 5 Quaker City Weekly (February 16, 1850).

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101 which women were condemned for failing to maintain their purity but men were simply being men, and the hypocrisy and licentiousness of members of the clergy who swindled their congregants out of money they didnt ha ve to give and seduced women who leaned on clergymen for spiritual guidance.6 Still, Lippard believed in both the princi ples of Christianity and America. He created many of the American myths about Revolutionary heroes, including the ringing of the Liberty Bell after the signing of the Declaration of Indepe ndence and the Speech of the Unknown and its rallying effect in influencing the founders to sign the Declaration in his Washington and His Generals; or Legends of the Revolution (1847). The book, intended for children and youth, works to build a sense of patriotism with its stories of heroism and morality among the founders of America, and it was so immediately influential that Reverend Joel T. Headley borrowed Lippards book in constructing his 1847 book of the same name.7 Although David S. Reynolds argues that Lipp ard directed the sensational against the values of home, church, family, and pur ity that were central to the sentimentaldomestic sphere, Lippard actually directs his fiction against the hypocrisy of the authority figures who misapplied and misused these values to oppress others and keep themselves in power.8 Though a seminary dropout, Lippard never wavered in his faith, a 6 Shelley Streeby writes about Lippards activism: In Lippards hands the story paper was a popular form with close ties to active communities such as the antebellum labor and land reform movements: Lippard addresses a diverse and internally divided print community as he hails male and female workers, promotes new working class institutions, and comments on local and national politics. American Sensations: Class Empire and Popular Culture (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002), 41. 7 Burton R. Pollin, More on Lippard and Poe, Poe Studies 7.1 (1974), 22-23. 8 David S. Reynolds, Introduction, The Quaker City; or, The Monks of Monk Hall. A Romance of Philadelphia Life, Mystery, and Crime (Amherst: University of Ma ssachusetts Press, 1995), xxii.

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102 fact evident in his writing. In fact, Lippard uses his fict ion to critique the classist, capitalist America of the mid-nineteenth cen tury and to encourage pure patriotism and Christianity that embrace peopl e of all races, classes, and sexes and urges true equality among all people. Yet, in order for his messa ge to reach the widest possible audience, Lippard recognized that he needed to write in a medium that would appeal to the largest number of consumers. Lippard read the works of Edgar Alla n Poe and corresponded with the author frequently. In a letter da ted February 18, 1844, Poe even addresses him as My Dear Lippard before launching into a short but flattering review of Lippards novel The Ladye Annabel offering advice to Lippard on how to handle a personal prob lem involving some sort of slight by personal enemies, and gr anting permission for Lippard to publish his review of The Ladye Annabel if the latter may deem proper.9 In an 1849 letter to his mother-in-law Mrs. Clemm, Poe refere nces recent difficulties he had in Philadelphia,where Lippard, John Sartain, a nd Reverend Chauncy Burr cared for him, gave him money they had collected from friends, and put him on a train to Baltimore a few weeks before he died in that city: T o L and to C B (and in some measure, also, to Mr. S) I am indebted for more than life. They remained with me (L and B ) all day on Friday last, comforted me and ai ded me in coming to my senses. L saw G, who said everything kind of me, and se nt me five dollars; and P sent another five.10 9 In fact, the review did appear in subsequent copies of the novel and in advertising for it. See Edgar Allan Poe to George LippardFebruary 18, 1844, E. A. Poe Society of Baltimore, 28 February 2006 < http://www.eapoe.org/works/letters/p4402180.htm > 10 Letter dated July 19, 1849. See Edgar Allan Poe to M. ClemmJuly 19, 1849, E. A. Poe Society of Baltimore, 28 February 2006 < http://www.eapoe.org/works/letters/p4907190.htm >

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103 Lippards worship of Poe and Poes influe nce on Lippard reveal themselves in Lippards writings for weekly papers. In the Citizen Soldier Lippard announced Poes impending Lecture on the American Poets: Poe was born a poet, his mind is stamped with the impress of genius. He is, perhaps, the most original writer that ev er existed in America. Delighting in the wild and visionary, his mind penetrates the inmost recesses of the human soul, creating vast and magnificent dreams, eloquent fancies and terrible mysteries . he constructs such works as Arthur Gordon Pym, which disclose perceptive powers that rival De Foe, combined with an analytical depth of reasoning in no manner inferior to Godwin or Brockden Brown.11 Two weeks after Poes death, Lippard published a tribute to his late friend. Lippard remarks, we are conscious that words are fuit less to express our f eelings in relation to his death. Still, Lippard goes on, That Poe had faults we do not deny. He was a harsh, a bitter and sometimes an unjust critic. But he was a man of geniusa man of high honora man of good heart . As an author his name will live, while three-fourths of the bastard critics and mongrel authors of the present day go down to nothingness and night.12 Lippard proved right in his estimation of Poe. Like the penny press coverage of and ma ny fictionalized pamphlets based on Helen Jewetts life and murder, as well as Poes short fiction, Lippards novel The Quaker City references fairy tales and historical incide nts with which his readers were familiar. Lippard makes use of many of the same descri ptive elements that one finds in the fairy tales. The novel even goes so far as to reference the Arabian Nights by name when Dora Livingstone describes her incredible plan s to leave her husband, commit bigamy, and gain a title in Europe (184). Whats more, ju st as Poe combined De Foe with Godwin and 11 Citizen Soldier (November 15, 1843). 12 Quaker City Weekly (October 20, 1849).

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104 Brockden Brown, Lippard combined Poe with fa iry tales and the penny presses to create Gothic fiction that develops a burgeoning literary tradition in American and works toward political and social change. Lippard did not simply fumblingly imitate Poe, as Emilio De Grazia charges. Rather, he bui lt upon the tradition begun in James Gordon Bennetts accounts of Helen Jewetts murder and continued in Poe. Believing Gothic medium [to be] fundamentally a medium for the reformation and expose of scandal and corruption, he used womens bodies as a canvas to comment upon society, and unlike Poe, Lippards message was ove rtly political and direct.13 Similar to the pamphlet fiction based on th e Jewett murder and Poes The Mystery of Marie Roget, Lippard appropriates contempor ary scandals in relating his narrative. The Quaker City s preface tells the read er that it was inspired by a deathbed confession and that the pages of the novel were written by one who had lived them. In fact, Lippard based his tale on the 1843 Singleton Mercer cas e in which Mercer was acquitted of the murder of Mahlon Heberton, who had seduced Mercers sister.14 Clearly, The Quaker City is not the first novel to exploit a tria l or to claim to be based upon a deathbed confession, but unlike its predec essors it purports to be ne ither cautionary nor wholly porno-gothic. Too, while Poe uses real events for detective stories, Lippards novel only mildly incorporates the detective element. In fact, Lippard combines the sensational, the sentimental seduction tale, the gothic, and the news in a manner mirrored three years later in George Wilkes The Lives of Helen Jewett and Richard P. Robinson discussed in Chapter Two. By combining these genres, Li ppard capitalizes on th e popularity of each 13 Hewyard Ehrlich, The Mysteries of Philadephia: Lippards Quaker City and Urban Gothic, ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance 66 (1972): 51. 14 David S. Reynolds, Introduction, xii.

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105 form to sell his novel to a mass audience. In other words, Lippard uses capitalism to critique capitalism. The gothic elements of The Quaker City greet the reader from the cover page of the novel. Announcing what lies within the gr eatest American Romance ever Published, the cover of the 1845 edition contains two illustrations. The top picture depicts a misshapen, hunchbacked creature who resembles a man holding a lantern above what appears to be an open grave. The creature (whom we soon discover is Devil-Bug) stands between decaying stone pillars, looking into the open grave with a smirk on his deformed face. The bottom picture depicts the same cr eature sitting atop a coffin and floating in a body of water. A city sits in the distan t background, and the words Wo Unto Sodom are emblazoned across the sky. At the bottom, the reader is greeted with We advise all persons to read careful ly the three other pages of the cover. These other three cover pages, one assume s are the three pages following the title page. In other words, the three other page s of the cover consis t of another engraving and the two-page The Origin and Object of this Book. The frontispiece engraving depicts a tearful young woman (Mary Arlington) in the grasp of a young man (her brother Byrnewood). The young mans brow is furrowed, and he holds his fist in the air as though swearing vengeance upon whoever wronged the young woman. From behind a massive curtain, a crowd of onlookers watches as another man (Lorrimer) enters the room and gazes with a frantic look in his eyes at th e scene. This illustration clearly intends to influence the readers perception of the pur pose of the novel and, si nce there is no crowd of men watching the interaction among Mary, Byrnewood, and Lorrimer, it clearly depicts the voyeurism of its readers.

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106 Directly following the frontispiece is the au thors explanation of this purpose. At the top of the first page of The Origin and Object of this Book, the book is Inscribed to the Memory of Charles Brockden Brown, fu rther anticipating the Gothic and fantastic elements that will follow. He explains that the story is based upon the contents of a package of records given to him by a dying friend who had been a lawyer. The pacquet of papers is endorsed, RE VELATIONS OF THE SECRET LIFE OF PHILADELPHIA, being the records of thirty ye ars practice as a councillor, by *** K . Most scholars take this stated intent at face value. In fact, Michael Denning in categorizing this novel as one of Lippards anachronistic seduction tales argues, The centrality of the seduction-rape plot disti nguishes Lippard from other writers of the mysteries of the city, who built their narr ative around the story of the prostitute . Lippard, on the other hand, avoids the narrative of the fallen woman by telling the story of the fallthe seducti on-rapeover and over again.15 On the contrary, a careful reading of the novel reveals that the seduction-rape plot appears only once in any detai l; the other two instances are recounted with little detail, and the central element of one is not the se duction but the woman murd ering her seducer. Certainly, one would not want to categorize the entire novel as a seduction tale. Unlike the seduction novels of Susanna Rowson, W illiam Hill Brown and others, Lippards novel speaks against the oppression of women in capitalist soci ety, including little that one would call instruction in virtue to young wo men. In fact, the two most powerful, and exciting female characters are the ones w ho defy the tenets of the Cult of True Womanhood, and though they die before the end of the novel as do the heroines in 15 Michael Denning, Mechanic Accents: Crime Novels and Working Class Culture in America Revised edition, (New York: Verso, 1998), 96; 94.

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107 seduction novels, both womens influences in th e novel are so strong th at their deaths do not undo their prior subversion. Like Broc kden Brown, in whose memory the novel is dedicated, Lippard creates a text in which women control the narr ative and warrior women are the only interesting women.16 The Quaker City s subversion of capitalism focuses in part on gender roles. The women in the novel range from a fallen woma n whose role in her own seduction is ambiguous, a wholly pure ministers daughter, a prostitute who gains agency through the revenge murder of her seducer, to a me rchant-princes young wife whose sexual indiscretions symbolize all that Lippard detest ed about capitalism. The texts depiction of these women subverts societal norms reflect ed in the translations of European fairy tales and developed in the penny press covera ge of Jewetts murder. Lippard uses the imagery of the Sleeping Beauty and Snow Wh ite stories, but he shows his reader that this fantasy is inheren tly dangerous to women. Mary Arlington, whose story mirrors that of the Mercer case, is one of the two fairy tale princesses in Lippards novel. Gus Lorri mer even alludes to the fairy tales when he tells Mary a fantastic story, using fairy tale imagery to seduce her: All around me were massive trees with thick branch es, and gnarled trunks, bearing witness of the storms of an hundred years . Green shrubs swept circ ling around, enclosing [the rock on which he stood] like a fairy bower.17 Just as in Sleeping Beaut y, the forest has been growing for one hundred years, enclosing a fairy bower . Even the mansion to which Mary has 16 Paul Lewis, Attaining Masculinity: Charles Br ockden Brown and Woman Warriors of the 1790s, Early American Literature 40.1 (2005), 37-55. 17 George Lippard, The Quaker City; or, The Monks of Monk Hall. A Romance of Philadelphia Life, Mystery, and Crime (Amherst: University of Ma ssachusetts Press, 1995), 127.

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108 been lured is described as being surrounded by a grove of impenetrable trees as to bring the Sleeping Beauty st ory to the readers mind. Li kewise, a fairy bower is again invoked in Lippards conclusion to de scribe the scenery su rrounding a fair young maiden form whom we later discover to be Mary.18 Seduced with promises of marriage and roma ntic fairy tales by Gus Lorrimer, Mary does not simply fall into ruin as so many young women in seduction novels; she is the instrument of her own ruin.19 Early in the novel, the na rrator ruminates on womans true nature: Unlike man her animal nature is a passive thing, that must be roused ere it will develop itself in action.20 Though Lorrimer rouses her nature with his promises and fairy tales, the novel makes it clear that woma ns, and thus Marys, nature is animal. Later, Lorrimer ponders his role in seducing Ma ry: While the story fell from my lips, I aroused her slumbering womans nature. Talk of forceha, haShe rests on my bosom as though she would grow there.21 Lorrimer does not rape Mary; the sleeping beauty awakens, and she willingly obeys her own animal nature and gives in to Lorrimers sweet caresses. Marys seduction is ambiguous. She bot h begs for salvation and returns her seducers every passionate t ouch and kiss. The animal within her has been awakened, and controlling her passions and urges is impo ssible. Even that she begs Save me, oh LorraineSave me! is ambiguous in that she does not beg God for salvation or pray for inner strength, but begs her seducer to save her from himself while flashing upon him her 18 Lippard, The Quaker City 568. 19 Ibid, 127. 20 Ibid, 85. 21 Ibid, 131.

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109 humid eye, [her] heaving bosom, and [her] burning cheek.22 Had Mary been serious in her pleas for salvation, one would expect to hear her beg him to stop, beg him to leave her, anything but begging her seducer to sav e her. Indeed, Lippards novel presents its reader with a conflicted seduction scene. On the one hand, Mary is seduced with the promise of marriage; on the othe r, even after she discovers there is to be no marriage, she responds willingly to her seducers advances. Mary is no Charlotte Temple who falls asleep or unconscious at the most inopport une times; no, Mary enjoys her awakened sexuality as much as Lorrimer enjoys his.23 The novel builds upon the conflict between Marys enjoyment of being seduced and the notion that the tenets of true woma nhood were the natural state of women. If womans nature is as pure as fairy tales a nd sentimental novels would have us believe, why do Mary and the other women in the novel possess an animal nature? If animal is part of womens nature, shoul d they, then, bear sole responsibility for their ruin?24 The novel asks its reader, And shall we heap shame on woman, because man, neglecting her holiest nature, may devote all the energies which God has given him, to rouse her gross and earthy powers into action? On whose head is the shame, or whose the wrong?25 Mary faces ostracism by her family and must mourn the loss of her vi rginity for the rest 22 Ibid, 133. 23 For a full discussion of Charlottes inactivity, ind eciveness, and inability to respond in any way as the reasons for her fall, see Marion Rust, Whats Wrong with Charlotte Temple? The William and Mary Quarterly 60.1 (2003), 99-118. 24 J. V. Ridgely asks similar questions and similarly argues that Marys ruin is not her fault but that societys double standard makes it so, though he focuses on Lippards novel remaining just above the level of sheer pornography and contradicts his original claim only a few pages later. George Lippards The Quaker City : The World of the American Porno-Gothic, Studies in the Literary Imagination 7.1 (1974), 77-94. 25 Lippard, The Quaker City 85.

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110 of her life simply because she succumbs not onl y to Lorrimer, but also to her own animal nature. If these tenets make up the true nature of women, the text asks, why is it that woman receives all of the punishment? J. V. Ri dgely argues that Lippards description of womens animal nature plays into societ ys clichs wherein the fallen woman is no longer a marketable commodity.26 On the contrary, Lippard s text points to the hypocrisy of these clichs. Lorrimer fears no retribution for his deed. He has done nothing wrong in the eyes of societ y. In fact, he abided by: the law which the Lady and Gentleman of Christian Society recognize with tacit reverence. Seduce a rich maiden? Wrong the Daughter of a good family? Oh, this is horrible; it is a crime only paralle led by the blasphemy of Gods name. But a poor girl, a servant, a domestic? Oh, no! These are fair game for the gentleman of fashionable society; upon the wrongs of such as these the fine lady looks with a light laugh and supercilious smile.27 In fact, he later laughs off Marys fathers a nd brothers pleas that he should marry her, with a similar supercilious smile: Your daughter was weak and foolishI was but a man! . This affair is quite unpleasant and your family and mine, are quite different in their style. You ar e not of our set.28 Lorrimer expects Marys family to abide by accepted customs and law. It astonishes him that they would even suggest that he marry Mary after he has seduced her. That Marys father has not a hope th at does not hang on his daughters life and, like all those who hope to maintain or improve their class status, believes better death than dishonor indicates the heavy value Ma rys family places on her purity. Everything 26 Ridgely, 91 27 Lippard, The Quaker City 417. 28 Ibid, 547.

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111 depends upon it. Yet Lorrimer expects to walk away from the situation unscathed, underestimating the value Marys family pl aces upon her honor. Marys brother refuses to allow Lorrimer to go unpunished and kills him. Just as in the well publicized real-life crime on which Lippard bases his tale, Byrnew ood is acquitted of the murder because the jurors realize that Lorrimer had stolen far more than just a womans virtue; he had stolen their livelihood. Later, Annie, the servant girl whom Byrnewood seduced and impregnated, is described in similar terms to those used fo r the form of Mary, though they even more strikingly allude to the Grimms Snow White and both the Grimms and Perraults Sleeping Beauty tales. Presuming Annie d ead, the narrator descri bes beauty in that corpse. She is White yes as the stainle ss snow! with the light stream[ing] warmly over the marble whiteness of that uncovere d form, revealing beauties on which the worms were soon to riot. Over the round limbs, over the white bosom, over the beaming face the worms would crawl.29 The description here of Annies marble whiteness and her round limbs [and] white bosom call to mind the illustrations of Helen Jewett, Perraults Sleeping Beauty, and the Grimms B rier Rose, who were all depicted by their artists as white as snow with a light streaming in upon their bodies so that all of their beauties were visible. Unlike the artists of the fairy tale and Jewett narratives and illustrations, Lippards narrator combines the erotic description of the corpse with the grim reality that it will soon be anything but desirous as the worms feast upon it. Here, we see Lippard creating a conflic ted description of the female corpse. It is beautiful, but it will soon be ravaged by worms as the woman was, in life, by Byrnewood. This 29 Ibid, 450.

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112 conflicted description betrays a conflict at work throughout the novel: men desire utterly passive women, but utterly passive women are at risk of destruction from the worms of society and from their own devouring animal natures. Annies presence in the text is little more than a plot device to demonstrate the similarities between Byrnewood and his sist ers seducer. Both Byrnewood and Lorrimer seduce young women, and Lorrimer is quick to remind Byrnewood of their similarity when Byrnewood first confronts him about sedu cing Mary: Devilish odd, aint it? That little affair of yours, with Annie ? Wonder if she has any brother ?30 The doubling of these two men creates a doubling e ffect that Michael Denning refe rs to: the focus of the Lippard plot is less on the story of the fa llen woman than on the struggle between good and evil men over that woman . Though he will never exculpate the seducer, his doubling of plots allows him to create he roes much like the seducer villains themselves.31 Lippard, however, less doubles plots than he doubles characters. We know nothing about the manner in which Byrn ewood seduced Annie, whereas we know every detail of Lorrimers seduction of Mar y. The Byrnewood-Annie subplot ends with the two of them married and living together with their ch ild; the Lorrimer-Mary subplot ends with Lorrimer dead and Mary insane. Th e only doubling in the plot is the fact that both men seduced women. That Byrnewood and Lorrimer are doubles is not in doubt, but the way in which Lippard plays this doubling not only unde rcuts capitalism, but also employs psychological elements like transference a nd projection common in gothic novels. The 30 Ibid, 100. 31 Denning, 98.

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113 first indication that Byrnewood feels remors e for seducing Annie comes early in the novel when he reads the letter she has sen t: egad! Theres the stain of a tear32 Still, Byrnewood goes about his evening without go ing to see Annie and soon forgets about her. After Lorrimer has reminded Byrnewood of Annie, Byrnewood begins to transfer his feelings about her onto hi s sister, creating a scene of se emingly incestuous desire: He took her small white handnow cold as marblewithin his own, he swept the unbound tresses back from her palid brow . He raised her form in his arms, and kissed her cold lips again and again. No tear tric kled from his eyelids; no sigh heaved his bosom; no deep muttered execration mani fested the agitation of his soul.33 Upon finding his sisters dishonored body, Byrnewood e xpresses none of the emotions that one might expect; there is no expres sion of anger or sorrow. Inst ead, he reacts as though he is attracted to the seemingly dead body of his si ster, sweeping her hair away from her face and kissing her again and again. Armed with the knowledge that Byrnewood too had seduced a young woman, we can safely conjecture that Byrnewood sees Annie rather than Mary in his sister. He has transferred his emotions about his own role as seducer onto Lorri mer and Mary, and he reacts accordingly. That he projects his ow n guilt over Annie onto Lorrimer comes as no surprise. When Byrnewood kills Lorrimer, he kills the man he once was. And at the end of the novel, we see that he keeps a portrait of Lorrimer in a secret room, which he enters every day: The Avenger knew that he was ri ght in the sight of G od, in the execution of the fearful deed with had been death to th e Libertine, but still there was one thought, 32 Lippard, The Quaker City 24. 33 Ibid, 145.

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114 never absent from his soul.34 We are told that the scen es he has witnessed in MonkHall, in the parlor of his fathers house, in the streets of the Quaker City, or on the broad river dwelt like a shadow on his soul.35 Yet, those are many thoughts, not one. The thought that remained always on Byrnewoods soul must have been the fact that he too had committed the same crime that Lorrimer did, and had Annie had a brother, Lorrimers fate could just have easily have been his own. He enters the secret chamber each day to reflect upon his acti ons and project his self-loath ing onto Lorrimers portrait. Mabel Pyne is the other fairy tale prince ss, and she manages to avoid not only ruin, but also the pseudo-incestuous de sire of her adoptive father, the Reverend Doctor F. A. T. Pyne. Her appearance is like that of both Helen Jewett and the sleep ing beauties of the fairy tales; the narrator refers to her complexion as white as marble or white as snow numerous times and to her being lik e a marble statue at least twice.36 Mabel, unlike Mary, correlates to not only the Sleeping Beauty and Snow White heroines, but also those of some of the Cinderella tale types. For the majority of the novel, Mabel thinks that the reverend is her father; it is not until over halfway through the novel that Mabel discovers that she was adopted. As sh e lay sleeping, the re verend gazes upon his daughters form. He takes notice of her ski n white as alabaster (later white as marble) and lips red and ripe and notes: As she lay reclining in the arm-chair she looked for all the world, like a marble statue of an intellectual and voluptuous maiden.37 Indeed, like the various Cindere lla incest tale types, this subplot focuses on a widowers 34 Ibid, 574. 35 Ibid, 575. 36 Ibid, 292; 293; 294; 320; 323. 37 Ibid, 292-293.

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115 desire for his own adopted daughter and the da ughters attempts to resist her fathers advances. In this subplot with Mabel and Reverend Pyne, Lippard takes the tales of incest from the fairy tales and uses them to expose the rottenness of Amer icas ruling class . The portrayal of sexual aberration was an es pecially potent wea pon against the upper classes, whose pretensions to virtue could most readily be exploded by recording their private sexual misdeeds.38 Throughout the novel, the read er hears Mabel protest the reverends advances thus: My father, ha, ha, ha! It is night agai n and his hand is upon my bosom, his hot breath on my cheek . Father have mercy . Your hands first raised mine to God as we prayed together, and now father those handsoh God! Oh God!39 Reverend Pyne even plays to his position as Mabe ls father in order to seduce her, telling her, Come kiss your father, as he a pproaches her nearly senseless form.40 Even as Pynes goal seems to have been reached, even as he begins to engage in kissing Mabel passionately and undressing her, he continues to refer to hi mself as her papa: Come and kiss your papa, Mabel! It wa s a good girl, that it was, and it must kiss its papa! . It is a good child, so it is, . And it will co me and sit on papas knee, so it will!41 Again, the reverend uses his position as Mabels fath er and the obedience th at position requires from her to further his lecherous designs. 38 David Reynolds, Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1988), 223. 39 Lippard, The Quaker City 293. 40 Ibid, 321. 41 Ibid, 322.

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116 Yet in addition to the incestuous desire, th is passage reveals that Pyne views Mabel not as a daughter, but as a po ssession, an it. He refers to her by name only once here, using it in the rest of his persuasive sp eech. Perhaps, if the reverend can persuade Mabel that she is not a person but an it, he ca n persuade her to leave off her intellect, that part of her natu re that makes her human rather than animal, and succumb to her animal nature and his base, incestuous desires. Here, Lippard takes the common reverend rake to a different extreme by having him involved not with one of his parishioners but with his daughter. He even declares it his right, as the care and trouble of seventeen years will be well repaid.42 The novel depicts the reverend as more than a rake, as an incestuous lecher who thinks that his fatherly duties s hould be repaid through a sexual relationship with the girl who has liv ed as his daughter since she was an infant. Like the Arlingtons, Mabels biological father also stakes his future on his daughters purity. The reader learns that Devil Bug is Mabe ls real father, but he works to establish that the rich merc hant Livingstone is her father That Devil Bug has a strong love for his daughter is eviden t as he speaks to her: Im ugly as the devilI know it! But for you, gal, for you my heart feels warm!43 Yet when he has the chance to tell her that he is her biological fath er, he stops himself. He tell s her instead, Parson Pyne aint yer fathernot a bit o it! Yer father has gold enough to buy ye a row o houses!44 Later, he allows Bess to find the false docum entation that claims that Livingstone is Mabels father so that Bess will reve al the information to Mabel. 42 Ibid, 320. 43 Ibid, 333. 44 Ibid, 334.

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117 Devil Bug could easily have told the truth, and one might think that he withholds it because he loves her and does not want her future to be ruined because her father is such a vile creature. Nonetheless, Devil-Bug reveals his true pur pose when moments later he revels in the notion that his daughter will be the heiress to Livingstones fortune: Ha! ha! ha! Old Devil-Bugs darter shall ride in her carriage, a nd wear silks an satinsthat she shall!45 Later, as he commits suicide, Devi l-Bugs last thoughts are of Mabel: The g-a-l shall roll in wealth, dress in silks an satins, and be a lady all her life, old DevilBugs daughter . among the gr andees o th Quaker City!46 He does not express appreciation in knowing the Mabel will be sa fe, protected, and without want. Instead, Devil-Bug delights in knowing that his da ughter will walk among Philadelphias elite, that his daughter, and thus a part of him, will have the trappings that go along with the upper class lifestyle. Too, Devil Bugs joy co mes from disrupting a system that dictates that his daughter should live and die not only poor, but also likely degraded into a life of prostitution. Instead, his daughter will live a life that by all rights belongs to another. Lest the reader forget the intended exposure of the evil s of the citys elite, he interrupts the narrative repeatedly to remind the reader of that Justice, which in the Quaker City, unbars the jail to the Great Swindlers, while it sends the honest Poor Man into the grave of the Suicide.47 The author later interrupt s his description of lovely women of the mad-house to elucidate its evils: Let me point your vision, to the grim cel ls of that Legal Mad-House, where a reckless Charlaton administers his brutal rule, in damp cells, littered by straw, 45 Ibid, 335. 46 Ibid, 556. 47 Ibid, 404.

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118 amid the glorious panoply of chains a nd bolts and bars! Let me picture to you, this pitiless Quack, standing lash in ha nd, over the prostrate body of some insane wretch, while his band of brutal ruffians, stand ready to do his will, even though that will be slow and deliberate murder . that this Quack and his Mad-House are both the creatures of your Statute-Books.48 Before his reader can revel in the heavi ng bosoms and undulating forms, Lippard reminds him that the purpose is not enjoyment, but rather expos or criticism. The authorial intrusion comes prior to the sexual and sensual depictions, setting the tone for how the reader will reflect upon the scenes to follow. Thus, the intrusion does not attempt to undo the enjoyment and eroticism that the reader has already taken from the text; it comes before the scenes to instruct the reader in how to read the passages, thus effectively framing the readers erotic enjoyment w ithin the context of social criticism. The prostitute and wicked witch of th e novel is Bess, whose story demonstrates that women, even after succumbing to th eir animal nature, can gain power and redemption through a reclamation of their names and bodies. Born Emily Walraven, Bess loses even the illusion of power in pur ity that women clung to when she loses her virginity to Paul Western afte r he seduces her through the prom ise of marriage. Emily is powerless after her seduction, a nd Boyd Merrivale must save her from a ruffian on the street: I recognized Emily Walraven in the degraded yet beau tiful woman who stood before me. Springing forward, with one blow I felled the bully to the floor, and in another moment, seizing Emily by the arm, I hurried down stairs [sic], evaded the constables, who were about to arrest her . I had to walk her home.49 Emilys ruin causes her to beg Merrivale to leave, to avoid even speaking to her. 48 Ibid, 527. 49 Ibid, 62.

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119 Though she says that she wishes to be happy in her degradation, Emily lives at the mercy of her customers and is afraid to walk home alone. She has no recourse against the man from whom Merrivale saves her, star kly starkly contrasting Besss actions later in the novel. As Merrivale cont inues his tale, he relates that he heard of Paul Westerns murder at the hands of Devil Bug (the pr oprietor of Monk Hall) and Emily. Merrivale speculates that revenge was Emilys motive for the murder, and after that night, he declares, Never since that night has Emily Wa lraven been seen in this breathing world, assuming her dead.50 Merrivale is partially correct in his assumption that Emily died that night. Though Devil Bug did not murder Emily, as Merrivale assumes, the timid girl who needs rescuing no longer lives. Emily gains agency through he r revenge killing of Paul Western and figuratively becomes a different person. As Helen Jewett re invented herself with each alias in real life, the fictional Emily Walraven reinvents he rself, changes her name to Bess, and begins helping the Monks of Monk Hall seduce other young women. She brags about her skill to the Abbess of Monk Hall, declaring herself an expert in such things.51 Like Snow Whites stepmother, Bess disguises herself as a friend to Mary Ar lington to convince the girl to go to Monk Hall to meet Gus Lorrimer, the libertine who has disguised himself as a suitor and intended fianc to the young woman. The young woman, like Snow White, misses every sign that her friend is deceivi ng her, first the hint that our friendship would be more romantic if concealed from a ll intrusive eyes, then the chance meetings on successive evening walks with her eventual seducer, and finally the secret wedding. 50 Ibid, 62. 51 Ibid, 78.

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120 Whereas in Snow White the disguised stepmo ther desires Snow Wh ites death because the young girl is fairer than she, Bess desire s a fate worse than death for Mary simply because she is happyaye happywhen [she] can drag another woman, into the same foul pit, where I am doomed to lie and rot52 Yet when she sees something of her old self in Mary Arlington and Mabel Pyne, Bess again reinvents herself and takes it upon herself to help save the young women and Marys brother Byrnewood. Unlike Emily, Bess not only does not need to be rescued. Instead, she rescues Marys brother from Devil Bug by practically carrying him through the labyrinths of Monk Hall: Supporting th e head of Byrnewood on her shoulder, while her arm encircled his waist, [she] endeavored to lead the half-conscious man . up the lofty stairs . Here his strength seemed to fail him, but the brave woman gathered her arm yet tighter around his waist, and hurried him along the stairs.53 When she encounters Devil Bug, Bess expr esses no fear and does not shrink from her purpose, calmly folding her arms as De vil Bug attempts to assert his power over her.54 Not only does she declare, Even yet I will foil ye, monster and devil that you are, she also encourages Devil Bugs guilt-r idden hallucinations by telling him that she can see the skeleton of Paul Western with his long bony fingers . gripping for [Devil Bugs] throat.55 Emily Walraven would have been terrified of both Devil Bug and Monk Hall. Bess has no such fears. She ev en brings up the name of her seducer and murder victim without so much as a flinch. The power she gained in murdering Western 52 Ibid, 80. 53 Ibid, 315. 54 Ibid, 317. 55 Ibid, 318.

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121 is the same power that she asserts over Devil Bug, and her description of Westerns skeleton attempting to choke Devil Bug dem onstrates that it is Devil Bug who feels remorse for his part in the murd er and that Bess feels nothing. Besss assertion of her newfound power exte nds to helping Mary and Mabel avoid the same fate that befell Emily Walraven. In taking the girls from Monk Hall, Bess must defeat Mabels adopted father, the Reverend F. A. T. Pyne: Her eyes flashing fire, Bess sprang forward, and struck the Parson on the forehead with the massive iron key.56 Unlike Emily, Bess is an active, assertive woma n. She does not hesitate in her actions, and the quickness of them surp rises a fat man accustomed to the passive, submissive women in his congregation. Bess also uses her sexuality to secu re the young women and herself a hiding place. She recognizes th at womens power lies in their sexuality, whether guarding it from men or seducing men to bend to a womans will. Though the young women are stunned at Besss familiar ity with the watchman who guards a murder scene, it this familiar ity that secures them from bot h Mabels adoptive father and Marys seducer Lorrimer.57 Too, hiding in the murder scene protected by the watchman gives her the opportunity to show Mabel a picture of her biolog ical mother and to tell the young woman that she is really the granddaughter of the murd ered woman and an heiress to the fortune of the rich merchant Livings tone. Without Besss ab ility to convince the guard to let her and her charges into the mu rder scene, Mabel might never have acquired Livingstones vast fortune. Thus, Besss sexu ality is the key to not only saving the other 56 Ibid, 345. 57 Ibid, 350-352.

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122 young women from their seducers, but also to making sure that Mabel becomes a powerful woman in her own right. Even though the central female characters of the novel are su pposed to be Mary Arlington and Mabel, Dora Living stones name is the title of pirated English copies of The Quaker City Though Book the First bears Mary s name and Book the Third bears Mabels, only one of five chapters contai ning the name of a woman contains Mabels name, and none Marys. Doras name is mentioned earlier than any other female character save Annie, the servant girl whom Byrnewood Arlington seduced. In fact, Doras name is the title or pa rt of the chapter title of the fifth chapter of Book the First, the fourth chapter of Book th e Second, and the second and fifth chapters of Book the Third. Of the main female characters, only Dora uses her sexuality as power from the start of the novel, making the de scription of her eventual death the most alluring of all, as evinced in the numerous times her name appears as the title of a chap ter. The narrator of The Quaker City describes a seemingly dead Dora Livingstone in terms similar to the descriptions of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. Yet, the na rrator twists the description into that of a female fiend: there she la y, her cheeks pale as death, her lips parted . but the Fiend was locked within that faultle ss form; within the snowy whiteness of that bosom, now gleaming coldly in the light was Hell.58 Mrs. Livingstone embodies capitalist greed. Dora concerns herself chiefly with rising in status and class; she dreams of possessing a title and wearing a coronet, a mixture of the American dream and the Eur opean, fairy tale prin cess dream of happilyever-after. More importantly, Dora unders tands that whereas me n may improve their 58 Ibid, 259.

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123 stations by improving their fo rtunes, women can improve th eir stations only through marriage and sex. As such, she stands as a comment against the cult of true womanhood and other societal restrictions that made it impossible for a woman to improve her station except through marriage. Ante bellum America clung to the tene ts of true womanhood: Woman, in the cult of True Womanhood presented by the womens magazines, gift annuals, and religious literature of th e nineteenth century, was the hostage in the home. In a society where values changed frequently, where fortunes rose and fell with frightening rapidity, where so cial and economic mobility provided instability as well as hope, one thing at least remain ed the samea true woman was a true woman, wherever she was found. 59 Though she appears to her husband to adhe re to the tenets of piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity, Dora Livingstone violates them all. In her bedroom, two conflicting images symbolize the conflicting images that Dora projects. First, there is a statue of the Venus de Medici, sculptured by a master hand, in snow-white marble, which associat es Dora with both the goddess and Helen Jewett. Second, Dora keeps an image of th e Virgin Mary, her eyes raised upward to heaven, and her hands clasped over the crucif ix, resting upon her bosom, as a testament to the submissive and pious woma n her husband expects her to be.60 Yet Dora possesses characteristics more like those of Venus a nd Helen Jewett than those of the Virgin. Unlike Mary and Mabel, whose dialogue consists primarily of lamentations over the various unhappy situations in which they find th emselves seemingly destined to lose their virginity, Dora glories in the possibilities that her adultery presents She glories in the pursuit of wealth and a titl e and enjoys the process of planning her ascent. 59 Barbara Welter, The Cult of True Womanhood, American Quarterly 18 (Summer 1966), 151-152. 60 Lippard, The Quaker City, 179.

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124 Unworried that her actions put her eternal soul in peril, she focuses instead on the promises of a royal title Fitz -Cowles falsely promises her will come with a marriage to him: That were a boon, worth the peril of a soul to win! . A coronet, yes, yes, a coronet! . A coronet! But one short y ear ago, a poor girl, clad in [a] threadbare costume . Now that poor girl, is the wife of one of the merchant-princes of the city, rolls in wealth, almost without li mit, and of course moves among the first circles of the Aristocracy of this good c ity! Such Aristocracy ha, ha! Like a specimen of paste-board stat uary, giving but a grotesque outline, of the reality which it is intended to represent . A nother year and this same poor girl, may, no, no, will stand among the glittering circles of a royal Court, with the blaze of rank and beauty flashing all around her, with the smile of a Queen, beaming upon her face, while a coronet, that tells the an cestral glories of a thousand years, rests brightly upon her brow!61 That Dora has risen from poverty to the arist ocracy of Philadelphia, where she rolls in wealth does not satisfy her. Her husband is a merchant-prince rather than a true prince, and the taint of the Shop that merchant attaches to prince sickens her.62 She wants a royal title and crown, something sh e can never obtain in America where the aristocracy is but a grotes que outline of that in Europe Focusing on her past and impending rise in fortune and class, Dora forgets momentarily that her marriage to Livingstone prevents her marriage to anothe r man, a problem for which Dora has a ready solution when prompted by her lover. Thus Dora symbolizes capitalist greed and the hypocrisy of a system that promises cl asslessness but honors even a grotesque aristocracy. Dora wants more than she can ever have in America. Not only is Dora licentious and greedy, we quickly learn that she is also murderous. When Fitz-Cowles asks how Dora intends to overcome thethe 61 Ibid, 181-182. 62 Ibid, 182.

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125 difficulty of her husband, Dora does not hesitate in her response: Suppose Livingstone should die . Livingstone has been for y ears the victim of a secret and insidious disease . [The doctor] to ld me that the main arteries of my husbands heart were now almost entirely ossified; that I mu st take every care in the world of him, for any sudden excitement, would kill him in an instant 63 To ensure Livingstones death comes sooner rather than later, Dora plans to reveal her indiscre tions, knowing To the ear of the man who loves his wife as man neve r loved wife before . without a moments [ sic ] delay, he would fall from his chair, a stiffened corse [ sic ].64 Unlike the Virgin Mary, whose image prominently graces the walls of Doras bedroom, Dora not only ignores her duty as wife, but has also thought so seriously about how to remove the obstacle her husband presents to her coronet th at she decisively and without delay reveals her plan. Whereas Poes fiendish women return from the grave to exact revenge upon their oppressors, Lippards Dora does not wait for Livingston to wrong her. She plans his murder not as retribution for some wrong he has committed, but as a means to further raise her status and fortune. Poes women return from the grave as fiends, but Dora Livingstone is a ferocious, fe male fiend throughout her life. In fact, unlike the women in Poes storie s, Dora does not limit her wicked actions to her husband or closest relation. Further demonstrating that capitalism is not only hypocritical and irrational, but also murderous, she also ac tively plots the murder of Luke Harvey for his threats to reveal her a ffair, using herself as a down payment for the 63 Ibid, 184-185. 64 Ibid, 186-187.

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126 crime.65 At first, the reader knows only that a young man with a figure somewhat below the middle heighth, whose elegance of shape and beauty of proportion, was disclosed to every advantage . It was, indeed a fair face, almost effeminate who has entered Monk Hall to hire Devil Bug to murder Luke Harvey.66 The young man wants a violent death for Harvey, telling Dev il Bug, Kill him, for me, kill him by the pistol or the knife, by fire or by the sword, any way you like.67 Dora could have easily murdered Luke Harvey by poisoning his tea any time when he visited her husband at home. Instead, she disguises herself as a young man and hires Devi l Bug to murder him. Devil Bug delights in savage violence. He even daydreams about various tortures he can inflict on people, wondering aloud many times throughout the novel Vonders how that ill vork?68 Everyone who has any contact with Devil Bug know s that he revels in killing people in violent ways, and Dora implies that she is we ll aware of this by going to Devil Bug and by suggesting only methods of mu rder that include violence. Doras original plan is to pay Devil Bug with gold and to allow him to keep Lukes gold ring after he presents it as proof of Lukes death, but her disguise does not fool Devil Bug. He requests another form of payment, a kiss from a red lip; a little love you know, ,and a good deal o fondness!69 Though at first reluctan t to sleep with Devil Bug because of his hideous form, Dora re lents, promising Bring me the ring, and you 65 Gary Ashwill, The Mysteries of Capitalis m in George Lippards City Novels, ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance 40.4 (1994): 305. 66 Lippard, The Quaker City 278. 67 Ibid, 279. 68 Ibid, 290. See also pages 119 and 554. 69 Ibid, 288.

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127 shall revel in wealth70 When she wants to hire Devil Bug to murder Luke Harvey, she knows that she must disguise herself as a man to avoid having to pay with her body. When Devil Bug recognizes her and demands to be paid with the weal th that is Doras body, she knows she must pay the price or De vil Bug will not rende r his services. The history of Luke Harvey presents a stark contrast to that of Dora and demonstrates that men had different and mo re varied options for upward mobility than did women. Luke grew up in the same nei ghborhood as Dora and was her former fianc. Like Dora, he moves up in society, but he does so through hard work and virtue. First, he apprentices in Livingstones fathers warehouse, and when Old Liv. died . Luke Harvey rose to a clerkship. Began to be a fine fellowwell-dressed, and of course virtuous . Last year [Luke was] taken in to partnership . Firm now Livingstone, Harvey, & Co.71 Luke maintains his virtue and m oves from poverty to a partnership in one of the most successful business in Philade lphia. Later, he succeeds in securing the safety of Mabel and is rewarded, we learn at the end of the novel, by accompanying her overseas with a likely marriage to her and he r fortune in the offing. Luke gains the success that Dora craves, but his path to that success is up a di fferent road because he is a man. Lippard recognizes the double-standard and oppression of women inherent in a capitalist society, and he uses Dora as a mean s of depicting the wors t aspects of capitalist hypocrisy and greed. Dora symbolizes all that Lippard detests about capitalism in America. She is not happy with what she has and craves more. Because she is a woman, the only way for her 70 Ibid, 289. 71 Ibid, 34.

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128 to gain the fortune and title she viciously desi res is to use her body as capital. Her beauty captivates Livingstone, who marries her a nd makes her part of the Philadelphia aristocracy. Her beauty then attracts the attention of Fitz-Cowles, who wants nothing more than her body. Knowing that Dora will not risk losing her current place in society by having an affair with him, he promises her that he is the heir of a royal title in Europe. Thus, Dora sees the path to more riches a nd higher status through her body. Like Helen Jewett, Dora lives in a capitalist economy a nd must use the capital she has to gain the wealth she wants. Lippard does not just build upon the traditi on of Helen Jewett; he contributes to it as well. Following only Dora, Mary, and Byrn ewood to the end of thei r stories, the text recounts the conclusion of the other subplots and minor details of Byrnewood and Marys story through a series of news reports from a fictional Philadelphia newspaper, presumably The Daily Blackmail that is discussed in some length in Book the Second. Mirroring The New York Herald s coverage of Helen Jewe tts murder and Richard P. Robinsons trial, the fictional news stories at the end of The Quaker City offer conflicting accounts of some characters lives. For inst ance, in describing the facts of how Mabel came to inherit Livingstones fortune, the paper states, Stolen in infancy from her fathers arms, she was, after the lapse of se venteen years recognized and restored to her home, through the kind exertions of our distinguished Divine, the Rev. Dr. Pyne.72 Later, the same paper reports, one of our first clergymen has been guilty of a most daring and atrocious act of perfidy. As the cas e will shortly be brought to trial, we refrain from giving the particulars. Suffice to say, that the victim is the daughter of one of our 72 Ibid, 571.

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129 wealthiest merchants, the heartl ess seducer, none other than the Reverend Doctor F. A. T. Pyne .73 Neither the intrusive authorial voice nor the narrator comments on the conflict in these two accounts of the same event. Did the reverend restor e Mabel to her true family through kind exertions, or did he try to seduce her? Is he the distinguished Divine or the heartless seducer? Th e reader knows that the latt er account bears a closer relationship with the truth, but Lippards incorporation of these conflicting accounts and the failure of the authorial voice to correct them are intriguing. Lippard and his readers would have been familiar with the tactic s of the penny presses. Bennett famously recounted or corrected his reports if offered enough money, and Buzby Poodle, the editor of The Daily Blackmail is a clear caricature of the Herald editor. Poodle explains to Fitz-Cowles how he manages his pape r: A big motto at the papers head Fiat justitia you know the rest. Do I want the cash ? I stick in an article charging some well-known citizen with theft, or seduction, or some more delightful crime. Citizen comes down in a ragewants the article contradi cted in the next days paper. He pays for the contradiction, of course.74 In response to Fitz-Cowles concern that the city has been dull recently, Poodle demonstrates that he prefers the sensational: O, Lord, yes! Hasnt been a suicide for a week. Not even a murder down town, nor a nigger baby killed. I do wish something lively would spring up for Christmasnow an abduction case with the proper 73 Ibid, 572. 74 Ibid, 163.

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130 trimmings, would go it with a rush!75 Poodle gets his abduction case three-fold, reporting on Byrnewoods trial and acquittal for the murder of Lorrimer, the discovery of the dead body of a woman . laying beside the grave of Mr. Walr aven, and Reverend Pynes attempted seduction of Mabel, and only fleetingly hesitates to report the truth in the case of Rev. Pyne. Given Poodles convers ation with Fitz-Cowles, the reader can only assume that the Reverend was no l onger able to pay for Poodles silence. Lippards inclusion of ficti onal news accounts to conclude several of his storylines not only mimics Bennetts reporti ng style, it also anticipates the construction of future narratives about Helen Jewett discussed in Ch apter Two. Four year s after the publication of The Quaker City George Wilkes adopts this style to conclude his The Lives of Helen Jewett and Richard P. Robinson with the news reports of Bennetts Herald and the formula of ending the Jewett narrative with ne ws articles will remain a key element in novelizations of the story into the late twentieth century. Lippard uses the popularity of the penny pre ss, the fairy tales, and the sensational gothic to sell his novel to a wider audience, but his critique of capitalism remains the focus of the novel. Though many critics would have us believe that in Lippards use of the sensational to reveal the inequities of cap italism and the dark unde rbelly of the city, time and again sensationalism becomes an end in itself, The Quaker City maintains its critique.76 While the tale is fantastic and sensat ional, never does th e text neglect its purpose of unmasking the citys elite. Should the reader begin to forget, the authorial voice interrupts to remind the reader that the horrors being depicted result from 75 Ibid, 163. 76 Reynolds, Beneath the American Renaissance 207.

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131 capitalism, from a system set up to encour age greed. That the elites activities are downright disgusting underscores Lippards anticapitalist rhet oric rather than hindering it.77 The penny press, fairy tales, Gothicism, and anticapitalism combine in Lippard in ways that influence and anticipate the combination in other narratives as well. George Thompson attempts to construct his City Crimes in a fashion similar to that of Lippards Quaker City even including overt criticisms of capitalism. Unlike Lippard, however, Thompson uses the political and so cial criticism as a cloak for what is otherwise soft-core po rnography, as evidenced in his biography. 77 Reynolds, Beneath the American Renaissance 206.

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132 CHAPTER 6 REINFORCING THE FAIRY TALE: PRETENDED SUBVERSION IN GEORGE THOMPSONS FICTION George Thompson was one of antebellum Amer icas most prolific authors of erotic sensation fiction and wrote some of the fi rst readily available pornographic texts in America. He has been all but ignored by scholars. Taking note of Thompsons ambiguous status as pornographer and sensati onalist, Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz briefly explores the relationship between thes e two aspects of his career in her Rereading Sex: Battles over Sexual Knowledge and Suppressi on in Nineteenth-Century America In addition to his erotic novels, his city mysteries novels were some of the more popular of the period, exploring the most s eedy sides of city life. Yet Horowitz is one of the rare scholars to recognize Thompson. Janis Stouts Sodoms in Eden: The City in American Fiction Before 1860 fleetingly mentions only one of Thompsons novels, The House Breaker David Loths The Erotic in Literature: A Historical Survey of Pornography as Delightful as It Is Indiscreet in a chapter devoted to the rise of pornography in America, fails even to mention the author, as does Leslie Fiedler in his Love and Death in the American Novel And, while David S. Reynolds spends quite a bit of time on Thompson in his Beneath the American Renaissance he limits his reading of City Crimes to but one passage of note and misreads or misrepresents several scenes from both City Crimes and Venus in Boston Like recent scholarship on George Lippard, with one rare exception, the scant criticism of George Thompson s fiction maintains that hi s texts subvert social and

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133 political norms of the era. In his introduc tion to a collection of three of Thompsons works Venus in Boston City Crimes and the autobiographical My Life Reynolds argues, Along with sexual adventurousne ss and social satire, his novels have an undercurrent of ambiguity. His fictional wo rld is one in which goodness often falters and wickedness often succeeds.1 Indeed Thompsons Venus in Boston (1849) appears to subvert social norms and to carry its subvers ion through to the end of the short novel. The text abruptly ends with a summary of how the tale ends for each character, with its most unabashedly subversive character, the Du chess, living a happ ily-ever-after life. Yet every other criminal character either expe riences a change of heart and turns his or her life around or suffers some form of punish menta sadistically to rtured death or an even more painful existence on the edges of society. Similarly, Thompsons more fully developed City Crimes (1849) appears to support Christopher Loobys assertion that Thompsons fict ion tries to subvert political and social structures at the same time that it reinforces them.2 I maintain, however, that City Crimes and Thompsons other works do not actually try to subvert dominant ideologies of antebellum America; they only pretend to do so. Thompson would have been familiar with the popularity of George Lippards polit ically and socially subversive novels, and he used the trappings of subversion to disguise novels that simply revel in the grotesque and the erotic for the sake of thrills. Although the novel unc overs the corruption of the 1 David Reynolds, Introduction, in George Thompson, Venus in Boston and Other Tales of NineteenthCentury City Life eds. David S. Reynolds and Kimberly R. Gladman (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002), xlix. 2 Christopher Looby, George Thompsons Romance of the Real: Transgression and Taboo in American Sensation Fiction, American Literature 65.4 (1993), 651-672. Looby focuses on Thompsons The House Breaker arguing, he wants both to mount a powerfu l critique of the status quo and to endorse some of its fundamental values; he wants to affirm sentimental domestic norms even as he violates them, expose moral hypocrisy even as his fiction succumbs to it.

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134 judicial system and the injustices endured by those in poverty, in nearly every instance the revelation of poverty and in justice is followed immediat ely by the reinforcement of the very dominant ideologies and repressi ve structures it pretends to subvert. Thompsons novels create worlds in which the only women who survive to the end of his novels are pure, domestic, passive, and submi ssive, in which honest, hard working poor people are rewarded with happy middle-cla ss lives, and in which organized religion encourages meekness and humility in the poor by promising that they will be rewarded in heaven while their oppressors will be punished with eternal damnation. Unlike Lippard and Poe, Thompson makes use not of the Sleeping Beauty or Snow White motifs, but of Ci nderella, in which the chaste heroine marries her prince while those who conspired against her suffer br utal punishment. Just as the fairy tale instructs its readers in prope r behaviors and social norms, Thompsons fiction reinforces the capitalism, classism, and sexism of the culture in which it was produced. The fairy tale presents women who break the boundaries of the roles th at society expects them to fill, yet, in the end, these womenCinderell as stepsisters and stepmothersuffer harsh punishments, and Cinderellathe dish rag of the talelives happily ever after. Thompson too incorporates active women characters, ones who transgress every boundary set by society. Though Reynolds ar gues that Thompsons fiction mocks domesticity and presents wo men who enact the rejection, and even inversion, of the maternal and nurturing female roles promot ed by the cult of true womanhood, the archetypal wicked witches in Thompsons wo rks endure sadistically violent punishments as the active women of Cinderella do, while the chaste, domestic heroines survive,

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135 flourish, and achieve the happy ev er after life that comes only to those who are passive, patient, and pure.3 This chapter argues for a new interpre tation of Thompsons fiction, focusing on both Venus in Boston and City Crimes In both novels, Thompson develops the Cinderella motif, incorporati ng murder, crime, and incest to spice up each story and create a spectacle of the excesses consumi ng the antebellum city. Currently accepted readings of Thompson as a subversive au thor writing to undermine the status quo by revealing its inequities overlook the narrativ e effect of Thomps ons novels. Although City Crimes uncovers the corruption of the judicial system and the injustices endured by those in poverty and pretends to critique them, in the end, the novel reinforces that Americas capitalist government and society su ccessfully represents and protects all citizens. Thompsons erotic fiction hides be hind the guise of reform bringing its readers licentiousness and debauchery without th e burden of serious evaluation and condemnation of the corruption of the capitalist city. Because the hero reaps the benefits of the corrupt system, the reader only vaguely senses the injustice. Similarly, the reader only glimpses the injustice of poverty, as Frank Sydney and the narrator exploit the nameless hordes living beneath the city for e ffect and quickly forget about them. Equally important is Thompsons reinfo rcement of dominant gender ideology, especially the cult of true womanhood. Male criminals whos e activities result from the necessity of poverty accept help from no one, yet they turn away from crime, building happy, middle-class lives, with successful careers and families. On the other hand, women who reject the cult of true womanhood ar e sadistically murdered. In fact, in City 3 Reynolds, Introduction, xxxvii-xxxix.

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136 Crimes only one female character survivesthe only woman in the entirety of the novel who embodies the characteristics of true wo manhood. And, while the novel points to the hypocrisy of licentious clergy, it blames women for their own seduction immediately thereafter, even when the woman in question is no more than a girl. The novel, therefore, does little to undermine the appara tuses of state control. It re inforces the notions that the clergy is virtuous at heart and that the systems of law and labor work for those who want to better their own lives. George Thompson recognized the importan ce of creating a sympathetic heroine, and he further understood that no woman is as sympathetic as one who does her duty by embodying all the attributes of the perfect woman even under the harshest of conditions, one who never loses her sweet di sposition even when those around her abuse her daily. In short, Thompson recognized that Cinderella is the exemplary true woman of the nineteenth century, and he used this motif in both Venus in Boston and City Crimes Thompsons understanding of the market in which he was writing goes back to his childhood. In his My Life: Or the Adventures of Geo. Thompson. Being the Autobiography of an Author Thompson waits only three pages to mention: I lived at that time [about age twelve] in Thomas street, very near the famous brothel of Rosina Townsend, in whose house that dreadful murder [of Helen Jewett] was committed which the New York public will still remember with a thrill of horror . With many others, I entered the room in which lay the body of Ellen [sic], and never shall I forget the horrid spectacle that met my gaze!4 Whether a boy of just twelve years would ha ve been allowed to enter Jewetts room and view the corpse, and whether Thompson hi mself actually participated have been 4 George Thompson, My Life: Or the Adventures of Geo. Thompson. Being the Auto-Biography of an Author In Venus in Boston And Other Tales of Nineteenth Century Life eds. David S. Reynolds and Kimberly R. Gladman (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002), 315-316.

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137 contested by both Patricia Cline Cohen and David Reynolds, who argue that this statement, like so much of his autobiogra phy, is likely exaggeration. Yet Thompson did live with an uncle and aunt in New York City near the brothel. Given the excessive press coverage that Jewetts myster ious death and the subsequent trial of Richard P. Robinson received, it is likely that the young Thompson would have come into contact with much of the information that was being circulat ed. That years later he recognizes the importance of the crime in the history of New York and the credibility that its proximity lends him as a writer of city mysteries speaks volumes about Thompsons understanding of the market. His novels, like the press coverage of Jewetts murder and Robinsons trial, seek to effect that thrill of horror in readers by bringing to light the horrid spectacle of th e evils of the city. Thompson could hardly have missed Jame s Gordon Bennetts attempts to make Helen Jewett into a Cinderella character, whos e stepmother so mistreated her that she was forced into servitude at Judge Westons home. In Bennetts version of Jewetts life story, Jewett is Cinderella, and Judge Weston a nd his family are her fairy godmothers. Unfortunately, Jewetts Cinderella story did not have as happy an ending as the fairy tale. Still, Bennett recognized th e need to create a victim w ith whom the consumer could sympathize. She could not be just anothe r prostitute; she had to be someone who resembled the daughters and sisters of his readers. Thompson seized upon Bennetts reports of Jewetts murder and the Cinderella fairy tale for guidance in writing his novels. In City Crimes he even incorporates a fictional news report about the murder of a prostitute that bears striking similarities to those of Bennett. The headline from Thom psons fictitious report on Frank Sydneys

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138 arrest for the murder reads Atrocious Murder, whereas Bennetts headline on the day he first reported Jewetts murder reads Most Atrocious Murder. Like Richard Robinsons, Frank Sydneys appe arance and behavior after his arrest proved his guilt. Even the method of murder recalls the murder of Helen Jewett; the prostitutes landlady finds the corpse lying upon the sofa, her throat cut.5 Though Jewett had been attacked with a hatchet to her brow, th e level of violence in both murd ers, the fact that both are prostitutes, and the immense excitement that ran throughout New York after both murders makes it impossible not to think of Jewett when reading Thompsons novel.6 Since Thompsons novel appeared but a short time after the seria lization of George Wilkes popular novelization of Jewetts life and murder, it would have been even more likely that readers in 1849 immediately recogn ized Jewetts story in that of Thompsons fictional prostitute. That Frank Sydney, whos e very name recalls Robinsons alias Frank Rivers, is innocent of the cr ime indicates the possibility that Thompson thought the latter man innocent of the murder of Jewett. Thus, Thompsons belief in the notion that reputable young men from good families do not murder prostitutes becomes evident, and his adherence to the ideals of classi sm and true womanhood manifests itself. Though Thompson presents many women characters who refuse to conform to the rules of true womanhood, it is the women who are exemplars of the angel in the house, even when faced with imminent harm from st rangers or with excessive emotional abuse from their families, with whom the reader alternately identifies and sympathizes. In 5 George Thompson, City Crimes In Venus in Boston And Other Tales of Nineteenth Century Life eds. David S. Reynolds and Kimberly R. Gladman (Amhers t: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002), 172. 6 Thompson, City Crimes, 171.

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139 Venus in Boston Thompson creates Fanny Aubrey as the Cinderella figure, whereas in the longer City Crimes Sophia Franklin fills this role. Fanny Aubrey is a classic Cinderella in all aspectsmotherless, dutiful and kind, obviously from a higher class than her presen t means indicate, and mistreated by her sisters. Fanny and her brother are actua lly both motherless and fatherless in the biological sense, as their aged grandfather is their caretaker. As such, the grandfathers presence serves the essential function of fat her. As the tale opens, however, we learn, it had been a happy home . but alas! si ckness had laid its heavy hand upon the aged man, and want and wretchedness had become their portion.7 When her grandfather becomes unable to provide for the family, Fanny takes it upon hersel f not only to tend to the ill, old man and her younger brother as sh e has been doing anyway as the only female in the household, but also to work to provi de subsistence for the family. In both instances, Fanny does what she must to ensure her familys well-being. Despite the familys present circumstan ces and the necessity for Fanny to sell produce on the street, the readers first encount er with her indicates her inherent upper class status: There was something in the appe arance of the pale, sad girl, as, in her scant attire she shivered in the biting wind, not often met with in the humble disciples of povertya certain subdued, gentle air, part aking of much unconscious grace, that whispered of better days gone by.8 That Fanny is unconscious of her grace and subdued, gentle air is important. She simply goes about her day attempting to sell fruit 7 George Thompson, Venus in Boston In Venus in Boston And Other Tales of Nineteenth Century Life eds. David S. Reynolds and Kimberly R. Gladman (Amh erst: University of Mass achusetts Press, 2002), 5. 8 Ibid, 4.

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140 to passersby; yet her entire being exudes the aura of one who is fit for better things than selling fruit. As one generous customer, who we later find out to be her future friend and benefactress Alice Goldworthy, remarks to he r, You are much too pretty for such an employment.9 Alice, herself of the upper cla sses, recognizes Fannys inherent class status, and as soon as the opportunity presents itself, Alice and her father take it upon themselves to take in Fanny and her brother, training them in the ways of the upper class. While the other girls selling fruit appear squalid and dirty, Fanny is pretty, clean, and dignified. Her speech alone signifies that she belongs to a cla ss above that in which she currently resides. The other girls profanity and obscenity along with their improper English mark them as the lowest of the lower class, while Fannys polite manners and perfect Englishshe uses pra y, may, and good sir while the other girls say I wants and Them has gotmark her as being completely different. Yet, Fanny attempts in no way to appear better than her station as a poor fruit vender; these characteristics are natural and unconscious, a fact which marks her as a target of the other girls on the streetthe apple girls. The apple girls inhabit a station much different from that of Fanny. They are effectively prostitutes disguised as fruit vendo rs, proverbial for their vicious propensities and dishonesty, stealing from anyone who is not alert.10 Although they are sisters in poverty, they treat her most unki ndly. They act much as Ci nderellas stepsisters do when the fairy tale heroine wishes to attend the ba ll, mocking Fanny: ha, ha! Here is my fine lady, with her smooth face and clean gown, who disdains to keep company with us, and 9 Ibid, 9. 10 Ibid, 9.

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141 do as we do! Let us tear off her clothes and roll her in the mire!11 Fanny has done nothing to these girls. Yet, much as Cindere llas stepsisters hate her and humiliate her simply because they envy her beauty and he r domestic nature, the apple girls taunt and abuse Fanny because of her natural beauty and grace, naturally belonging to someone in a class high above that of the apple girl s. The signs that Fanny belongs in a higher class than that to which she currently belongs and the envy of the apple girls reinforce dominant conservative idals of upper-c lass entitlement and superiority. Fannys social class is also determined by fate. We know from the first couple of pages that her family had fallen on hard time s; thus, we assume from Fannys disposition and actions that they were indeed of a social class higher than that in which they currently find themselves. Fannys inherent class stat us becomes more apparent when Fanny goes to live with Alice and Mr. Goldworthy. Fa nnys maid insists upon helping her change every night, and Fanny protests, You are very silly, Matilda, to insist upon waiting on me ; I, that am as poor as yourself, and wa s brought up as nothing but a fruit girl. Matildas horrified response is telling: Lor, Miss! cried Matilda, holding up her hands with a sort of pious horrorhow can you co mpare yourself with th e likes of me? You were born to be a lady, and I am so ha ppy to be your servantyour own ladies maid!12 Though Fanny is correct that she and Matilda share similar economic backgrounds, Matilda is quite right that Fanny was born to be a lady. Fannys remarks to Matilda hint that she too understands the differences that stand between them. She rebukes Matilda as soon as Matilda becomes too familiar: You vex 11 Ibid, 10. 12 Ibid, 94.

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142 me to death with your nonsense, Matilda, cried Fannyhow tiresome you are! Pray be silent.13 Fanny would not have dared speak to A lice or anyone whom she considered an equal in such a commanding way, but Matilda is her servant. Importantly, Fanny feels no remorse for rebuking Matilda so harshly; never does Fanny apologize for calling Matilda tiresome or saying that she was vexed to de ath with Matildas nons ense. Instead, she later smiles at Matilda, and Matilda seems to soak in this gift. Further reinforcing classism, Venus in Boston connects ones social and political class to his or her moral class. One of the apple girls, known only as Sow Nance, so envies Fanny that she tricks her by leading he r to the home of Mr. Ti ckles, a famous and respected politician and seducer of adolescent girls. Nanc e knows that Mr. Tickles wants nothing of the apple girls who sell their persons to the highest bidde r; he wants a girl from a respectable family who remains virt uous. When he asks Nance who Fanny is, Not one of us , was the reply, she sells fruit, and is poor, but her folks are respectable;-you must pay me well for bringing her here, for shes handsome.14 Nance emphasizes that Fanny differs from herself and the other apple girls; yes, Fa nny appears to be like themshe sells fruit, and is poor. Yet Fanny differs in one important wayher folks are respectabledenoting that she falls in a class somewhere above the average fruit vendor. Equally important, the text mainta ins that ones personal moral status and respectability relate directly to that of her parents. Nance implies that she herself is not respectable because her parents ar e not, and in fact, we later learn that her entire family either has been hanged for murder or sits in prison awaiting execution. As Sow Nance 13 Ibid, 94. 14 Ibid, 11.

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143 explains, she had little choice in becoming an honor to her family as a child murderer, prostitute, thief, and pimp.15 Sow Nances social and moral class dictates that she lives among the lower orders (for even in crime there is an aristocracy).16 The famed Mr. Tickles and other rich men who perpetrate various crimes mostly keep themselves out of the muck of true cr ime and refuse to fully associate with those like Sow Nance, who do anything for the right price and who come from the poorest parents. That Mr. Tickles is a publicly resp ected politician and a co rrupt rapist of young women in no way subverts the ideals that thos e of the upper classes live more moral lives than the lower classes; in fact, Mr. Tickles perversions work to strengthen the readers belief in the underpinnings of class and morality. Tickles is one of those wealthy beasts whose lusts run riot on the innocence of young femaleswhose crimes outnumbered the gray hairs upon his head, and whose riches we re devoted to no other purpose than the procurement of victims for his appetite, and the gratification of his abominable passions.17 Though the public persona of this man is th at of a venerable gentleman with the best interests of his constitu ents at heart, Fanny immediat ely finds herself uneasy and fearful in his presence. The narration mome ntarily switches to Fa nnys perspective; she sees Tickles two rows of teeth not unlike the fangs of a wolf, evoking Red Riding Hood. Just as the reader of the fairy ta le knows that it is really the wolf in Grandmothers clothing because of his big eyes and teeth, the reader of Venus and Boston 15 Ibid, 47-48. 16 Ibid, 21. 17 Ibid, 11.

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144 and Fanny know that Mr. Tickles is a wolf in disguise. That his lechery is obvious comforts the reader that he or she will know a pervert when he or she sees one. In keeping with this comfor ting of the reader, the text unmasks the libertine, known as the Chevalier Duvall, who becomes enga ged to Alice Goldworthy almost from the moment that the reader encounters him. Wh ereas Alice remains unaware of her fiancs true character, again, Fanny and the read er recognize him as a thief and a liar immediately. The narrator tells the reader of the Chevalier: he was supposed to be a foreigner of distinguished birth . [Ali ces] lover was a man possessing no visible resources, and was besides very unwilling to allude to his former history, which was involved in much obscurity.18 This introduction reveals the Chevalier to the reader as a fraud. He is supposed to be of noble linea ge, yet he has no capital or property. Should there be any question about the Ch evaliers lack of social status, the narrator follows his insinuation that the Chevalier is not w ho he claims to be with a revelation that the Chevaliers moral class st atus equals that of the lower orders. Immediately after the introducto ry description of the Cheva lier, the narrator tells the reader of the Chevaliers sister, the Duchess. When her brother brings Mr. Tickles to meet her, the Duchess was prepared to receive her brother and his friend in her boudoir .19 A true woman, regardless of infi rmity, would never receive men in her boudoir; Thompson even italicizes the word, em phasizing the depravity to come. That she possesses a low moral standing becomes cl ear immediately after Mr. Tickles enters 18 Ibid, 56. 19 Ibid, 57.

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145 her bedroom. Rather than having dressed to receive guests or havi ng even put on a robe to cover her nightgown, the Duchess receives the men in a thin gauze-like covering. The narrators description of the scene demonstrates Thompsons indebtedness to the New York Heralds coverage of the Jewett murder: Truly, she was the VENUS OF BOSTON! . Her limbs (once the mold of a renowned sculptor at Athe ns,) would have crazed Canova, and made Powers break his Greek Slave in to a thousand fragments; and those limbshow visible they were beneath the light, transparent gauze . Her leg, with its exquisite ankle and swelling calf,faultless in symmetr y,was terminated by a tiny foot which coquettishly played with a satin slipper on the carpet, a slippe r that would have driven Cinderella to the commission of suicide.20 Though the Duchesss slipper might have driven Cinderella to suicid e, there is nothing about the Duchess herself that the famed fa iry tale heroine would envy. The Duchesss actions in accepting a male caller in to her boudoir while in a state of dishabille indicate that she is no lady; the descriptors, exc ited dashes, capitalized words and exclamation points that evoke James Gordon Bennetts er oticized account of Helen Jewetts corpse and murder scene solidify that she is a fallen woman. The slipper with which the Duchess plays possibly further symbolizes he r licentiousness. According to Freud, shoes are symbols of female genitalia as they sym bolize the lost phallus; Cinderellas lost shoe in Freudian terms symbolizes her lost virginity.21 Here the Duchess fully possesses and controls her slipper and plays with it just as she plays w ith her sexuality, using it to manipulate and control Tickles. Through the corrupt Mr. Tickles, the Chev alier, the Duchess, and other obviously morally corrupt characters such as the licentious Lady Hawle y, the reader experiences the 20 Ibid, 58. 21 Sigmund Freud, Symbolism in Dreams, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud vol. XV, trans. and ed. James Strachey (London: Hogarth Press, 1963), 158.

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146 thrills of the underworld of the city. We see the Chevalier and Duchess kissing passionately before we learn th at they are not siblings but lovers; we see and hear Mr. Tickles and the Duchess role-playing a father-daughter sexual encounter.22 We learn from Jew Mike about Lady Hawley and her lover cross-dressing during their sexual encounters.23 Perhaps the texts reveling in the outlandish sexual escapades of its characters is one reason that so many critics view the works of Thom pson as subversive. The reader is exposed to the corruption and se xuality in which these lower orders engage; however, this exposure does nothing to count er the dominant ideologies at work in antebellum America. It simply reinforces them. Fanny, and thus the reader are not fooled by the outer appearances of Mr. Tickles and the Cheva lier, and the description of the Duchess immediately signals that she is a wretched woman. Their indulgence in such acts as extramarital sex, pseudo-incest, and sedu ction allow the reader to indulge in these erotic acts, but it also assures the reader th at he or she is not as depraved as these characters and that he or she will immedi ately recognize lecherous men and those men and women who try to pa ss for a higher status. Unlike Fanny Aubrey, th e Cinderella figure in City Crimes Sophia Franklin fits the fairy tales motif almost identically. Sophias father is dead (we later learn that he was murdered by her mother), and her mother Lucr etia and sister Josephi ne pay attention to her only when they think she can benefit them in some way. The sisters differ as much as do Cinderella and her stepsisters: 22 Ibid, 65-66. 23 Ibid, 36.

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147 Josephine was tall and majestic; her wa lk and gestures were imperative and commanding. Sophias form was slight a nd sylph-like; her every movement was characterized by exquisite modesty and grace . In mind and disposition they were as dissimilar . . Josephine was passionate, fiery and haughty to an em inent degree; Sophia, on the contrary, possessed an angelic placidity of temper and a sweetness of disposition which, like a fragrant flower, shed its grateful perfume upon the lowly and humble, as upon the wealthy and proud.24 In spite of their being sist ers, Josephine and Sophia have nothing in common, possessing attributes of opposite natures. Whereas Josephi nes qualities contradi ct every aspect of true womanhood, Sophias every characteristic embodies it. She is full of modesty and grace and bestowed her good nature and a ngelic qualities upon everyone whether lowly and humble or wealthy and proud. They differ dramatically not only in characte r, but also in the way they feel about and treat each other. Sophias sweet di sposition embraces her commanding sister, while Josephine conspires with their mother to sell Sophia as a sex sl ave. When Sophia learns of their plot, she protests, Must you have money at the expense of my honor . my poor, dead father-. . he seems to l ook down on me from Heaven, and tell me to commit no sin. Her mother replies, Must we starve on account of your silly notions about virtue, and such humbug? Your sister and I have long since learned to dispose of our persons for pecuniary benefit, as well as for our sensual gratificationfor it is as pleasurable as profitable, and you must do the same, now that you are old enough.25 Rather than encouraging Sophia to adhere to the accepted path and save her virginity for her future husband, Lucretia Franklin sees her daughters virtue as a means to support her own perverted habits. Though she seems to attempt to soften the blow by adding that 24 George Thompson, City Crimes 156. 25 Ibid, 276-277.

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148 sexual encounters can be as pleasurable as prof itable, this really only reinforces that she is herself a woman of illicit behaviors a nd ill morals who will sell her daughter for profit. That Josephine aids her mother in selling her sister reinforces the glimpses of Josephines licentiousness that the novel has previously allo wed. Earlier, Josephines illicit behavior comes to light immediately afte r the reader encounters her. She dresses as a boy for a masquerade, thinking that men will all run distracted afte r a pretty woman in male attire.26 Josephine has no qualms about cross-dr essing to attract men; she exploits what she perceives as an obvious male proclivi ty. It is important to note, however, that when a man mistakes her for an actual boy and proposes a clandestine encounter, Josephine is furious. She calls it unnatural and threatens to expose him.27 Later, on a steamer to Boston, Josephine engages in a mnage-a-trois with the captain and her mother. There is little sexually in which Jose phine will not participate, and her attempt to sell her sister is not an attempt to avoid starvation but an attempt to continue her licentious lifestyle without having to take lovers of a lower class. In Thompsons works as in the fairy ta le versions of Ci nderella, those who conspire against the heroines suffer indescri bably painful punishments. In Cinderella a pair of doves peck out the stepsisters eyes after the stepsisters have mutilated themselves trying to fit into the shoe Scholars such as David Reynolds and Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz interpret Thompson s fiction as depicting activ e women who subvert gender norms and appeal to women readers. Horow itz goes so far as to argue, women trade 26 Ibid, 158. 27 Ibid, 169-170.

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149 their sexual endowments for mens money and th ereby gain a better position from which to enact their deadly punishments. At a time when many voices called for female subordination and piety, thes e dangerous vixens may have held an allure.28 Horowitz makes it appear that Thompson presents wo men characters who successfully transgress the boundaries of subordination and piet y. Yet the fact remains that in City Crimes every woman who refuses subordination and piety su ffers by the end of that work, with most dying painful deaths. The lone survivor in Venus in Boston is the Duchess, who allows Mr. Tickles to indulge in incestuous fa ntasies with her and whose only other transgression is posing as the si ster of a con artist. Rather than creating alluringly active women characters, Thompson pretends to s ubvert the eras rigid gender roles and, in reality, simply reinforces those role s by creating heroines who embody them. In Venus in Boston Sow Nance and Mr. Tickles suffer even more cruel punishments than those meted out in the more overt fairy tale. Sow Nances punishment, the narrator implies, occurs as a direct re sult of her actions agai nst Fanny. The narrator summarizes Sow Nances fate in just one simp le sentence: Sow Nance has become the most abandoned prostitute in Ann Street.29 While this sentence seems straightforward, it actually conveys much more than it states. As one of th e apple girls, Nance depends upon her ability to attract men. She creates opportunities to steal from men when they pay for sex with her, and her pimping of unsus pecting girls results directly from her work as a prostitute. That she has become the m ost abandoned on Ann St reet, a street known for prostitution, speaks volumes about her state she has so degraded herself that she will 28 Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, Rereading Sex: Battles over Sexual Knowledge and Suppression in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002), 231. 29 George Thompson, City Crimes 104.

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150 perform any of a variety of perversions that other prostitutes who re tain some of their dignity refuse to do. On the other ha nd, abandoned may mean that she has no customers, that she has no means of existing even in the barest sense. She will eventually either succumb to more dangerous types of thievery for an income and end up in prison, or die by starvation or exposure. Sow Nance is not allowed any sympathy in spite of her immoral family life and the fact that she ente red into prostitution as a result of a rape when she was only eleven years old. Because of her actions against the Cinderella heroine, she must suffer as punishment. Mr. Tickles, the man who goes to extrao rdinary lengthseven hiring an escaped felon to kidnap herto seduce Fanny, experi ences a punishment in which the reader is allowed to revel. As Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz points out, In George Thompsons fictional works, the primary force is violen ce and sadomasochism. The books dwell on the details of violent mutilations and deaths.30 What Horowitz misses is that the violence in Thompsons texts functions as jus tice. In this novel, as in others, the sadistically violent justice o ccurs at the hand of one of th e more heinous characters. Jew Mike, Fannys kidnapper, experiences a change of heart when Tickles refuses to pay him for his services and helps to rescue the young woman. Upon her rescue, he sends her home and proceeds to carry out the punishment he and Fannys mysterious savior Corporal Grimsby have arranged for Ti ckles: Mike needed no light to guide his footsteps, he traversed the da rk passage, he seized the iron ring, and drew up the trap door of the Coal Hole, . Then with a deep curse, he cast the old li bertine into the dark 30 Horowitz, 230

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151 abyss, closed the entrance, and departed.31 Jew Mike obviously wants to punish Tickles because the latter did not pay him for kidnapping Fanny, but the punishment itself is concocted by Corporal Grimsby, who has not hing but Fannys safety in mind. Like the doves who punish Cinderellas stepsisters, Corporal Grimsby and Jew Mike cause Tickles to suffer physical pain; he lasts fo r days, calling out for help, and perishes miserably, with no one to even comfort hi m. Like Sow Nances, Tickles punishment takes the form of abandonment. Just as Cinderellas stepsisters and So w Nance were punished for their actions against the heroines of those stories, Josephi ne and her mother suffer for the actions they take against Sophia in City Crimes yet they are subjected to far harsher and more sadistic punishments, likely because this novel is more fully developed than the former. Similar to the way that Tickles punishment in Venus in Boston occurs at the hands of the most heinous criminal, Josephines punishment comes at the hands of the novels avenging angel and vilest criminal, The Dead Man. Though he partakes in the most horrendous crimes that occur in the novel, The Dead Man functions as the hand of justice, meting out punishments against every active woman in the novel. When Josephine refuses his advances, The Dead Man throws Vitriol at her, which ran in her eyes and down her face, burning her flesh in the most horrible manner. A bystander is able to save her life, but cannot restore her lost eyesig ht, or remove the horrible di sfigurement of her burned and scarred visage.32 Whereas Cinderellas stepsisters lo se only their eyes, Josephine loses 31 Thompson, Venus in Boston 103. 32 Ibid, 298.

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152 both her eyes and her physical beauty. B ecause Josephines live lihood and that of her mother depend upon her ability to attract men, her life is effectively over. Indeed, though she does trick a suitor in to marriage by weari ng a veil covering her horrible disfigurement, as soon as he sees her face in the nuptial chamber, after bitterly reproaching her, [he] drove her from his presence, bidding her never to let him see her again, and refusing to make th e smallest provision for her support.33 Josephine, seeing her life as over, poisons herself. It is important to note that Josephine does not just commit suicide after The Dead Man disfigures her. Rather, she suffers. First physical pain, then blindness, then the indignity of having her husband of a few hours throw her out without a penny to her name. Suicide is a welcome respite from her suffering. Even more sadistic is the punishment of Frank Sydneys wife Julia. Julia transgresses every societal expe ctation of a true woman possibl e: she has an affair with Nero,her black menial; becomes pregnant with his baby; murders the baby so that no one will find out; then marries Frank Sydney, disc ards Nero, and plots Franks murder. When Frank discovers her infidelity and miscegenation and throws her out of his home, her reaction is far from exp ected: You cast me off fore ver!I thank you for those words; they release me from a painful thralldom. Now am I mistress of my own actionsfree to indulge to my hearts conten t in delightful amours!I will not return to my fathers houseno, . I pref er liberty to follow my own inclinations, to the restraint of my parents house. She continues, My fu ture career is plainly marked out: I shall become an abandoned and licentious woman, yielding myself up unreservedly to the 33 Ibid, 308-309.

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153 voluptuous promptings of my ardent s oul. I part from you without regret.34 Again, though this speech might be read mistakenly as subverting the cult of domesticity, Frank Sydney focalizes this scene. His disdain and shock at Julias actions and her reaction to being abandoned by her husband are the re aders shock and disdain. The text sympathizes with Frank and condemns Julias immorality in the same way that George Wilkes The Lives of Helen Jewett and Richard P. Robinson condemns the freedom that the divorced pros titute Mrs. Bryant hails as her reason for abandoning her husband. Certainly, these characters oppose the bounda ries set upon their sex, but in every instance, they are condemned for doing so and eventually punished for their wrongdoing. Perhaps because of her transgression of racial taboos in a ddition to her sexual conquests and infanticide, Julia suffers the cr uelest punishments the text dispenses. She takes the name Mrs. Belmont and assumes the identity of a widow, enabling her to rent a home without attracting atten tion to her wanton ways. The Dead Man, who has murdered children, driven their mother in sane, stolen, and raped, finds Ju lia and blackmails her into entertaining him with her sexual charms. Whereas Julia would likely encourage attentions from most men, the Dead Mans disf igured face repulses her, and his power to reveal her previous miscegenation forces he r into a subservient pos ition. The Dead Man views himself as the destroyi ng angel sent to mete out a terrible retribution for her crimes.35 In carrying out his function as the dest roying angel, The Dead Man forces Julia to act as servant to both him and Nero. At one point, the Dead Man requires her to clean 34 Ibid, 152. 35 Ibid, 233.

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154 his muddy shoes in her good china bowl and to dr y them with a fine handkerchief. At any point where she considers disobeying, th e Dead Man beats her violently in the face, her only true asset as a woman alone in the city.36 More disturbing and sadistic is Frank S ydneys personal revenge against Julia. She remarries and moves to Boston. Sydney finds her, disguises himself, an d tricks Julia into falling in love with him. Disguised as th e Signor Montori, Frank convinces Julia to poison her husband. After the husband is d ead, Frank reveals himself to Julia, who woke to a full consciousness of her guilt and wretchedness.37 Frank escapes unscathed for his role in the murder; in fact, the text on ly mentions his role once. After the murder, Frank appears as the bringer of justice rather than as the conspirator. Julia, on the other hand, is forced into the streets, where pa ssersby assume her to be an intoxicated courtesan, and assault her. Finally, much fati gued and uncertain of what to do or where to go, she comes upon the Charlestown bridge a nd throws herself into the water below. Julia endures literally years of punishment at the hands of the Dead Man and Frank Sydney. Rather than having her arrested for ei ther the infanticide or the murder of her second husband, Frank Sydney enacts his own re venge, ensuring that Julias suffering will be more than she can endure. Whereas women who transgress societ al norms are punished sadistically, Thompsons male villains, with rare excepti ons, redeem themselves and go on to live productive, middle-class lives. Of the male villains in Venus in Boston only Mr. Tickles receives any type of punishment, and his is at the hand of the other criminal in the 36 Ibid, 235. 37 Ibid, 293.

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155 novella. Likewise, in almost every instance in City Crimes men redeem themselves. Only two villains receive any punishment the Dead Man and Reverend Doctor Sinclairand even these do not get punished as severely as are Josephine and Lucretia. The immoral behavior of Frank Sydney sta nds as a startling example. During his engagement to Julia and prior to his knowledge of her illicit actions, Mr. Sydney tours the city dressed as a beggar, ostens ibly to help the poor. What he really does is revel in the excesses that the poor offer to him. When he runs across Maria, a prostitute who tells him of her lifes horrors, which include seduc tion by the family minister and marrying a man who forces her to sell herself, he begins to listen to her story. The text implies that he wants to help her overcome her many misf ortunes, yet the moment he sits down with her, he is overtaken with her beauty. When she pauses her narrative to look at him, he did precisely what ninety-nine out every one hundred young men in existence would have done, in the same circumstanceshe encircled her slender waist with his arm, drew her to his throbbing breast, and tast ed the nectar of her lips. He does not stop with a kiss, he fondles her ivory globes and bathes in a sea of rapturous delight!38 In contrast to its condemnation of Josephines and Julias infide lities, the text excu ses Franks behavior, saying he was not an angel. No he was human . It even speaks to him and encourages his advances on the young woman: Ah Frank, Frank! thou hast gone too far to retract now!39 Marias story includes plenty of sex, but he r narration makes it clear that she gained no joy from what she witnessed. Mistakenly ascribing it to Venus in Boston David 38 Ibid, 112. 39 Ibid, 111.

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156 Reynolds describes this scene as a striking scene of reve rend lechery . in which a young girl is aroused to sexual frenzy when she peeps through a keyhole and sees her mother having sex with their cl ergyman, who later in the novel casts lustful glances at the girl herself.40 Maria dwells upon her reaction to her mothers transgression; she describes feeling mortified and enraged, ho rrified and sick, even shame and grief. Never does Maria talk about being aroused, a nd she certainly experi ences no frenzy when she shed many bitter tears immediatel y after witnessing her mothers affair.41 Thus, no matter how one tries to justify Frank S ydneys advances, Maria does nothing to encourage his sexual advances, and his leavi ng a large sum of money as he departs fully demonstrates that, like the rest of society, he sees her as no more than a common whore. On the other hand, when the Reverend Do ctor Sinclair dies because of his licentious actions, a woman receives the blame for his misdeeds. The narrator moralizes: Why are ministers of the gospel so prone to licentiousness? is a question often asked, and is often answered thusBecause they are a set of hypocritical libertines. But we may say, may not we see the reason in this: the female members of a church are apt to regard th eir minister with the highest degree of affectionate admiration . The sister, instead of maintaining a proper reserve, grows too communicative and too familiar, and the minister, who is but a man, subject to all the weaknesses and frailti es of humanity, often in an unguarded moment forgets his sacred calling, a nd becomes the seducerthough we question if literal seduction be involved, where the female so readily complies with voluptuous wishes, which perchance, she resp onds to with as much fervor as the other party entertains them.42 40 David Reynolds, Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1988), 262. As there is no such scene in Venus in Boston Reynolds must be referring to City Crimes 41 Thompson, City Crimes 113. 42 Ibid, 213.

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157 Though Reynolds tells us that Thompson coined the term reverend rake, this scene epitomizes the novels, and Thompsons, pret ended subversion. Wh ile it points out the licentiousness of Reverend Sincla ir, it absolves him of his crimes by blaming his conduct on his female parishioners. Mo re importantly, the te xt undoes its earlier criticism of the clergyman who seduced Maria by questioning if literal seduction be involved and suggesting that she and ot her young women willingly comply with fervor to the clergys advances, even though Maria has alread y explained that she became the object of her reverends attention as a retaliation for her revealing he r knowledge of his affair with her mother. Similarly, the novel points to the corrupti on of the police and court systems, but because the character with whom the reader comes to identifyFrank Sydneybenefits from this corruption, the reader and Sydney s oon forget it. One notable scene takes place at the watch-house. The watch captain asks each detainee for a name and decides his or her fate. The captain locks one man up not for any crime, but because he did not belong to our party, while a group of negroes . were then summarily disposed of without being asked for names. When the captain di scovers the identity of Frank Archer, the novels upper-class hero, the cap tain apologizes, adding t hat if [my men] had known who you were, they would not have molested you had they found you demolishing all the houses on the Points.43 This passage epitomizes the novels first half, which pretends to subvert repressive structures of state control by revealing the corruption and biases of them. Again, the reader senses the injust ices of the city, but the novel immediately undoes that sense of injustice by the reinforcement of the ideals of capitalism. The 43 Ibid, 196.

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158 system of justice literally works for Frank S ydney, granting him all of the privileges that come with his upper class status. The Dead Mans stint in the prison workhous e seems to subvert this institution. We learn from the proprietor of one of the workhouses the real reasons prison workhouses exist: This system of convict labor is a glorious thing for us master mechanics, though it plays the devil with th e journeymen. Why, I formerly employed fifty workmen, who earned on an average two do llars a day; but since I contracted with the State to employ its convicts, the work wh ich cost me one hundred dollars a day I now get for fifteen dollars.44 When the proprietor is remi nded of the honest mechanics who lose employment because of this system, he laughs: if the honest mechanics as you call them, wish to work for me, they must commit a crime and be sent to Sing Sing, where they can enjoy that satisfactionha, ha, ha.45 This section of the text appears subversive as it points out the co rruption of the propr ietor and the inhere nt injustices of capitalism. This subversion seems to be fu rthered as the proprietor refuses to aid a starving woman whose husband had been discharg ed from his job at the factory when the prison workers were hired. He mocks her, wh ile a lowly porter gives her all the money Ive got in the world. Yet, the text only pretends this subversi on, as only a few lines later, the reader glimpses a scene in heaven: The recording angel above opened the great Book wh erein all human actions are written, and affixed another black mark to the name of the wealthy proprietor. There were many black ma rks attached to that name already. 44 Ibid 182. 45 Ibid, 183.

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159 The angel then sought out another name and upon it impressed the stamp of a celestial seal. It was th e name of the poor laborer.46 This glimpse of the recording angel and the Book of Names reinforces the ideology that those who do evil in this life will be punish ed in the next, whereas those who do good will be rewarded. In other words, this part icular scene sets the proprietors wrongs right again. Armed with the knowledge that the proprietor and those like him will be punished by God, the reader moves on to guil tless enjoyment of scenes of debauchery. Thompsons pretended subversion goes further, as these scenes of debauchery seem to subvert heterosexist ideology, while only reinforcing those same views. Earlier, I mentioned Josephines dressing as a boy to at tract male attention at the masquerade. When a man mistakes her for an act ual boy, she furiously rebukes him: I am a woman. I did but pretend, in accordance with a suddenly conceived notion, to deceive you for a while, but that deception has developed an iniquity in the human character, the existence of wh ich I have heard before, but never fully believe till today. Your unnatu ral iniquity inspires me with abhorrence; leave me instantly and attempt not to follow me or I shall expose you to the guests.47 Josephine, who has no problem engaging in a m nage-a-trois with her mother, abhors the mans suggestion. Her dressing as a boy to attr act men hints that she and her mother are privy to a proclivity among men to admire the form of boys. Yet her reaction to encountering a man who wants her as a boy signal s that even she is not able to accept a sexuality that differs so dramatically from the heterosexual norm. On the other hand, when Dr. Sinclair enjoys the appearance of Josephine dressed as a boy, she does nothing but encourage his advances because he does not want a boy but a woman dressed as one. 46 Ibid, 183. 47 Ibid, 170.

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160 Furthering the reinforcement of heterosexist and capitalist ideologies in the text is the ending. The Doctor kills the Dead Man ra ther uneventfully; Josephine and Julia have been sadistically killed. Because Sophia repr esents the pure Cinderella, she, unlike the other women in the novel, survives to a happy ending. She and Frank Sydney marry and prosper in their life together. The Doct or, a former thief and murderer instrumental in the destruction of Julia and the Dead Man, receives an offer of reward from Frank. Frank offers, You shall share my fortune, a nd move in a sphere of respectability and worth. The Doctor refuses, saying My amb ition is, to build up a fortune of my own,48 and by the end of the text, he has become a respected physician with a happy and respectable family.49 In short, the Doctor achieves the American Dream. Even Nero, Julias black lover, opens a barbershop in Bo ston. The novels ending moral, honesty is the best policy and virtue is its own rewar d, reinforces the capi talist notion that one can rise in class if one but works hard and adheres to the moral standards of the time.50 George Thompson takes the fairy tale tradition, the sensat ional reporting of Bennett, and the subversive tactics of Lippard and mixes them with his own pornographic style. In doing so, Thompson eludes the censo rs. He disguises what would otherwise have resulted in his arrest in a mask of acceptability by employing the various trappings of fairy tale, news, and political criticism. Thompson no more intends to subvert the classist, sexist, and heterosexist ideologies of the day than he intends to write childrens stories. William Berry, known for specializi ng in racy or indecent titles, published 48 Ibid, 300. 49 Ibid, 309. 50 Ibid, 310.

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161 Thompsons City Crimes Nearly all of his other novels were published by wholesalers who would later be prosecuted for obscenity or indecency under the Comstock law and the earlier postal obscenity laws that forb ade obscene or indecent material from being carried in the mail.51 Thompson would have been aw are of the reputation of his publishers, who marketed his books alongsid e their more overtly indecent books and periodicals. His subversion of capitalism, sexism, and other societal norms simply does not exist. The pretension of social criti que merely masks what those readers who bought books from Berry and Thompsons other publishe rs really wanted: cold, hard, erotic fiction that reminded them that their Ameri ca, their capitalism would reward them for hard work and long-suffering morality. 51 Haven Hawley, Bad man, Bad Business, Bad Hab its, Bad Character . .; or, Americas Homegrown Publishers of Indecent Books, 1840-1890. SHARP Annual Meeting, 2001.

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162 CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION Are fathers, brothers, fr iends, oppressd with care We claim a right in every grief to share; . While man abroad for happiness may roam, Tis ours to make a paradise at home. As tis our right, oh, be it still our praise, To gild the eve of our dear parents days; . Next tis our right, to watch the sick mans bed, Bathe the swoln limb, or bind the aching head; Present each nauseous draught with tenderness, And hide the anxious te as, we cant repress; On tiptoe glide around the darkend room, And strive by smiles to dissipate its gloom. Susannah Rowsons Rights of Woman in Miscellaneous Poems (1804) The writers examined in this dissertation enter into the debate about womens roles by employing those motifs that they knew woul d appeal to the largest audience. We know that transactions between cultural buyer and seller, producer and consumer shaped both content and form.1 So what were James Gordon Bennett, George Wilkes, Edgar Allan Poe, George Lippard, and George Thompson selling? Like so many novels, newspapers, magazines, television shows, and movies today, they sold their own sometimes conflicted ideologies packaged in sex and violence, and repackaged in fairy tale motifs. The translation of Europ ean fairy tales into English influenced sensationalism and Gothicism in antebellum America. Fairy tales enabled these authors 1 Ann Douglas, The Feminization of American Culture (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977), 84.

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163 to build upon a familiar tradition to co mment on American debates about women, patriarchy, and capitalism. Susannah Rowsons poem stresses that women s rights to share in grief, make a paradise at home, take care of their parent s, and to care for the sick are rights and not duties. She encourages women to stay out of the arenas of politics, divinity, and law, or face deserved ridicule. This poem appears in 1804, amid a growing debate about womens roles in the repub lic. Ann Douglas describes the instruction that women received in antebellum America: Stay with in your confines, and you will be worshipped . step outside and you will cease to exist.2 Women writers and editors such as Maria Cummins and Sarah Hale, editor of Godeys Ladys Book encouraged adherence to the Cult of True Womanhood. Yet women authors such as Fanny Fern and E. D. E. N. Southworth mocked the tenets of piety, pur ity, submissiveness, and domesticity in their novels. In the antebellum period and before American women, Carroll Smith-Rosenberg tells us, exhibited anger because they were caught between the promises of political power and social equality th at Jacksonian society held out to all Americans and the restrictions the Cult of True Womanhood placed on all women.3 Still, women found ways to express themselv es within the confin es of the Cult of True Womanhood, and they often effected great change or, at least, caught the attention of the superior sex. They played upon th e rights described in Rowsons poem and founded reform societies such as the New Yo rk Moral Reform Society, which focused on converting prostitutes to eva ngelical Protestantism and esta blishing [womens] right to 2 Douglas, 44. 3 Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985), 21.

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164 defineand limitmens sexual behavior.4 In the 1840s, women began receiving their first university degrees.5 Men must have been concerne d that women were encroaching upon the public sphere and the double standard that had existed for so long. If women wanted to limit mens sexual behavior and, t hus, their sexual power, what would be next? The work of Poe, Lippard, and Thompson entered into this debate over womens proper place in America, as did Bennett a nd Wilkes. James Gordon Bennett played into the publics growing concern a bout prostitution and urban corr uption, creating a tale of a prostitute that, on the surface, meant to cauti on about the dangers of the city. We find, however, that Bennetts fantasti c reporting actually made the c ity more appealing to both young men and young women. On June 25, 1836, Atkinsons Saturday Evening Post writes about the effects: It is a melancholy fact that since the mu rder of Ellen Jewett, and the consequent publicity given to her dashing, expensive, and gay style of living, a number of young females have come from the countryenticed by the artificial blandishments and quick finding pleasures of a prostitutes lifeand th rown themselves upon the town, victims to vile profligates, mercenary, unprincipled brot hel keepers, and their own depraved and licentious passions.6 Bennett masked his sensational reporting in the style and motifs of the fairy tales, relying on descriptions that recollect Sleep ing Beauty and Snow White, to purport to warn young people against the dangers that be fell Helen Jewett and Richard Robinson. 4 Smith-Rosenberg, 109-110. 5 Ellen M. Plante, Women at Home in Victorian America: A Social History (New York: Facts on File, 1997), ix. 6 Police Office A Melancholy Fact, Atkinsons Saturday Evening Post New York, June 25, 1836, Col. 6.

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165 Writing in 1836, Bennett was well familiar with the New York Moral Reform Society, which had been founded only two years prior. He played both sides against one another, creating a sensational story that told of th e dangers of prostituti on while implying that Richard Robinson was a victim of the sexua l aggressions of Jewett. Thus, Bennetts reports played both into female reformers claims of the dangers of prostitution and against their assertion that mens sexual be havior and aggressiveness was to blame for womens downfalls. Edgar Allan Poe takes a different ro ute to expounding upon womens role in America. Instead of demonstr ating the dangers of prostitu tion or overt se xuality, Poes short stories illustrate the terror created by e ducated and assertive women. A first-person narrator relates each of Poes s hort stories; thus, the male narr ators horror is the readers horror. In each tale, the narrator tells his read er that he adores his wife or sister for her intelligence and her ability to guide him to more intellectual pursuits. He learns from her, but not about how to be a good Ch ristian; rather, he learns ab out science, literature, and other worldly pursuits. Soon, he becomes frightened of his love, though he never provides a reason, and after the woman in the ta le dies, she refuses to remain dead. The male narrators are not frightened by the impending death of the women. In several instances, if the narrators are to be believed, they are not even aware that the womens deaths are imminent. The narrators ar e terrified of what is to come after the women in their stories die. Death symboli zes the ultimate passivity and submission, but the women in these tales have so resisted th e typical female role that the narrators of Poes tales realize that even death cannot s ubdue the active woman. Thus, rather than depicting the ruin or death of women who tr ansgress the boundaries set up for them, Poe

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166 depicts the terror that these wo men create in the hearts of men and, thus, society. Active womens refusal of their natural place in soci ety results not only in horror, but also in insanity. The rational, male mi nd cannot coexist with active women. George Lippard, himself a social reform er and founder of a workers union, saw womens roles differently from his contem poraries. He viewed the Cult of True Womanhood as just one of the many repressi ve ideological structures that ensured capitalisms hold would not waver. Rather than positing the virgin as opposed to the whore, Lippard creates women who see their sexuality as their on ly commodity and a society that agrees. Marys parents lives center on her virginity and ability to marry well, but Marys nature is part animal; Dora Livingstone wants the upward mobility that American capitalism promises, but she cannot work hard to obtain it and so must marry up. The novel depicts neither woman as wholly good or wholly evil. Rather, as Gary Ashwill argues, it takes a slight step toward the refastening of referents, the rethinking of the relations between binary oppositions; he completes the first deconstructive gesture and points toward the possibility of the second.7 Whereas Ashwill focuses on the city mysteries and sensational aspects of Lippa rds critique of ca pitalism without much discussion of the depiction of womens roles, I argue that Lippard s text consciously undermines the Cult of True Womanhood by demons trating that its tenets put women in grave danger. By reversing the messages of the fairy tales from which he borrows, Lippard upends the ideology of domesticity and separa te spheres upon which mens power depends. 7 Gary Ashwill, The Myster ies of Capitalism in George Lippards City Novels, ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance 40.4 (1994), 313.

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167 Seeing the unprecedented success of Lippards The Quaker City George Thompson pretended to critique the conditions in Americas urban industrial centers. Yet, just as fairy tales simply provided a m eans to appeal to the largest possible audience for his contemporaries, political and social commentary merely provided a screen for Thompsons nearly pornographic reinforcem ent of the dominant capitalist and domestic ideologies of antebellum America. In every instance where Thompsons texts appear to subvert domesticity or capitalism, they undo that subversion. City Crimes points out the licentiousness of ministers and immediately follows with a diatribe on the ways in which female parishioners seduce them. The same novel demonstrates the hard-hearted hypocrisy of capitalist proprietors while instanta neously asserting that they will reap their punishments at Judgment. Thompsons works use the motifs of fairy tales to reinforce and cement the messages contained in the orig inal English translations. Women should be seen and not heard; they should remain in the domestic sphere, pious, chaste, and attentive to their husbands and children and wanting nothing to do with the outside world. Bennett, Wilkes, Poe, Lippard, and Thompson no more agreed upon the proper place for women in America than did their fe male counterparts. These men did agree, however, about the best way to ensure that th eir works appealed to the largest number of consumers. Fairy tales gave each author a means to link his work to that of an ages-old tradition and to capitalize upon already popular an d familiar material. Each author could enter into the debate over American womens roles with the authority of familiarity and tradition in their works.

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168 LIST OF REFERENCES Anthony, David. The Helen Jewe tt Panic: Tabloids, Men and the Sensational Public Sphere in Antebellum New York, American Literature 69, no. 3 (1997): 487514. Ashliman, D. L. Incest in Indo-Eur opean Fairy Tales, 14 November 1997 D. L. Ashlimans Homepage 22 February 2006 http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/incest.html Ashwill, Gary. The Mysteries of Capitalism in George Lippards City Novels, ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance 40, no. 4 (1994): 293-317. Basile, Giambattista. The She-Bear, In Il Pentamerone, or The Tale of Tales translated by Sir Richard Burton, 150157. New York: Boni & Lieveright, 1927. Sun, Moon, and Talia, In Il Pentamerone, or The Tale of Tales translated by Sir Richard Burton, 420-425. New York : Boni & Lieveright, 1927. The Young Slave, In Il Pentamerone, or The Tale of Tales translated by Sir Richard Burton, 169-173. New York: Boni & Lieveright, 1927 Bennett, James Gordon. Visit to the Scene, The Herald New York, April 12, 1836. Bennett, Paula Bernat. Poets in the Public Sphere: The Emancipatory Project of American Womens Poetry, 1800-1900 Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003. Bottigheimer, Ruth B. Grimms Bad Girls and Bold Boys: The Moral and Social Vision of the Tales New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987. Silenced Women in the Grimms Tales: th e Fit between Fairy Tales and Society in their Historical Context. In Fairy Tales and Society: Illusion, Allusion, and Paradigm edited by Ruth B. Bottigheimer, 115-131. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986. Bronfen, Elizabeth. Over Her Dead Body: Death, Femininity, and the Aesthetic New York: Routledge, 1992. Canepa, Nancy L. From Court to Forest: Giambattista Basiles Lo Cunto de li cunti and the Birth of the Literary Fairy Tale Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1999. Castronovo, Russ. Necro Citizenship: Death, Eroticis m, and the Public Sphere in the Nineteenth-Century United States Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001.

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169 Cohen, Patricia Cline. The Murder of Helen Jewett: the Life and Death of a Prostitute in Nineteenth-Century New York New York: Vintage Books, 1998. The Mystery of Helen Jewett: Romantic Fiction and the Erotic ization of Violence. Legal Studies Forum 17, no. 2 (1993): 133-146. Day, William Patrick. In the Circles of Fear and Desi re: A Study of Gothic Fantasy Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985. Denning, Michael. Mechanic Accents: Crime Novels and Working Class Culture in America New York: Verso, 1998. Douglas, Ann. The Feminization of American Culture New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977. Ehrlich, Heyward. The Mysteri es of Philadeph ia: Lippards Quaker City and Urban Gothic. ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance 66 (1972): 50-65. Ellis, Havelock. Studies in the Psychology of Sex. Volume III. New York: Random House, 1936. Fiedler, Leslie. Love and Death in the American Novel New York: Criterion Books, 1960. Fiske, John. Koschei the Deathless; or, the Diffusion of Fairy Tales, Atlantic Monthly 48, no. 287 (1881): 310-321. Freud, Sigmund. Symbolism in Dreams. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud Vol. XV. Translated and edited by James Strachey. London: Hogarth Press, 1963. Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. All Fur, In The Great Fairy Tale Tradition from Straparaola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm edited by Jack Zipes, 47-50. New York: Norton, 2001. Brier Rose, In German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by Gammer Grethel translated by Edgar Taylor London: H. G. Bohn, 1823. Cinderella, In German Fairy Tales and Popular St ories, as Told by Gammer Grethel translated by Edgar Taylor London: H. G. Bohn, 1823. The Glass Coffin, In The Complete Tales of the Brothers Grimm edited by Jack Zipes, 482-485. 3rd edition. New York: Bantam, 2003. Snow-White, In German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by Gammer Grethel translated by Edgar Taylor London: H. G. Bohn, 1823.

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170 Halttunen, Karen. Murder Most Foul: The Killer and the American Gothic Imagination Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998. Harries, Elizabeth. Twice Universtiy Presson a Time: Women Writers and the History of the Fairy Tale Princeton, NJ: Princet on University Press, 2001. Hartnett, Stephen John. Democratic Dissent and the Cultu ral Fictions of Antebellum America Champain, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2002. Hawley, Haven Bad man, Bad Business, Bad Ha bits, Bad Character . .; or, Americas Homegrown Publishers of Indecent Books, 1840-1890. SHARP Annual Meeting, 2001. Horowitz, Helen Lefkowitz. Rereading Sex: Battles over Sexual Knowledge and SUniverstiy Presspression in Nineteenth-Century America New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002. Howeveler, Diane Lond. The Hidden God and the Abjected Woman in 'The Fall of the House of Usher. Studies in Short Fiction 29, no. 3 (1992): 385-395. Irwin, Robert. Arabian Nights: a Companion New York: Penguin, 1996. Jordan, Cynthia. Second Stories: The Politics of Language, Form, and Gender in Early American Fiction Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989. Keefer, Lubov Breit. Poe in Russia, In Poe in Foreign Lands and Tongues edited by Jeanne Rosselet, Lubov Keefer, Herbert Sc haumann and Pedro Salinas (Baltimore: The Edgar Allan Poe Society, 1941). Keetley, Dawn. Victim and Victimizer: Fe male Fiends and Unease over Marriage in Antebellum Sensational Fiction. American Quarterly 15, no. 2 (1999): 344-384. Kennedy, J. Gerald. Poe, Death, and the Life of Writing New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987. Kristeva, Julia. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection Trans. Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982. Lehuu, Isabelle. Carnival on the Page: Popular Pr int Media in Antebellum America Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000. Leverenz, David. Spanking The Master: Mind-Body Crossings in Poes Sensationalism, In A Historical Guide to Edgar Allan Poe edited by J. Gerald Kennedy, 95-127. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Lewis, Paul. Attaining Masc ulinity: Charles Brockden Brown and Woman Warriors of the 1790s. Early American Literature 40, no. 1 (2005): 37-55.

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171 Lewis, Philip. Seeing Through the Mother Goose Tales: Visual Turns in the Writings of Charles Perrault Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996. The Life and Writings of James Gordon Bennett, Editor of the New York Herald New York: NA, 1844. Lippard, George. The Quaker City The Quaker City; or, The Monks of Monk Hall. A Romance of Philadelphia Life, Mystery, and Crime (Philadelphia: T. B. Peterson and Brothers, 1845). Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995. Looby, Christopher. George Thompsons Rom ance of the Real: Transgression and Taboo in American Sensation Fiction, American Literature 65, no. 4 (1993): 651672. McGlathery, James M. Fairy Tale Romance: The Grimms, Basile, and Perrault Urbana, IL: Illinois University Press, 1991. Michaelis-Jena, Ruth. The Brothers Grimm New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writ ers Explore their Favorite Fairy Tales edited by Kate Bernheimer. New York: Anchor Books, 1998. Mulvey, Laura. Visual and Other Pleasures London: Macmillan, 1989. Perrault, Charles, The Blue Beard, Histories or Tales of Past Times with Morals trans. Robert Samber, 17-31. London: J. Pote & R. Montagu, 1729. Donkey-Skin, The Grey Fairy Book ed. Andrew Lang, 1-15. Longmans, Green, & Co., 1900. The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods, Histories or Tales of Past Times with Morals trans. Robert Samber, 32-58. London: J. Pote & R. Montagu, 1729. Person, Leland. Aesthetic Headaches: Women and a Ma sculine Poetics in Poe, Melville, and Hawthorne Athens, GA: Universi ty of Georgia Press, 1988. Poe and Nineteenth-Century Gender Constructions, In A Historical Guide to Edgar Allan Poe edited by J. Gerald Kennedy,129-166. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Plante, Ellen M. Women at Home in Victorian America: A Social History New York: Facts on File, 1997. Poe, Edgar Allan. Berenice, In Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays 225-233. New York: Library of America, 1984. The Fall of the House of Usher, In Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays 317336. New York: Library of America, 1984.

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172 Ligeia, In Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays 262-277. New York: Library of America, 1984. Morella, In Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays 234-239. New York: Library of America, 1984. The Oblong Box, In Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays 643-654. New York: Library of America, 1984. Pinakidia, Southern Literary Messenger (August 1836): 577-578. The Philosophy of Composition, Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays 13731385. New York: Library of America, 1984. The Premature Burial, In Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays 666-679. New York: Library of America, 1984. Review of Stanley Thorn Grahams Magazine (January 1842): xx. Tale-WritingNathaniel Hawthorne, Godeys Ladys Book (November 1847): 252256. Pollin, Burton R. More on Lippard and Poe. Poe Studies 7, no. 1 (1974): 22-23. Reynolds, David. Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988. George Lippard: An Anthology edited by David S. Reynolds. New York: Peter Lang, 1986. Introduction, George Lippard, The Quaker City; or, The Monks of Monk Hall. A Romance of Philadelphia Life, Mystery, and Crime vii-xliv. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995. Introduction, George Thompson, Venus in Boston and Other Tales of NineteenthCentury City Life edited by David S. Reynolds a nd Kimberly R. Gladman, ix-liv. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002. The Reception of Grimms Fairy Tales: Responses. Reactions. Revisions edited by Donald Haase. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1993. Ridgely, J. V. George Lippards The Quaker City : The World of the American PornoGothic. Studies in the Literary Imagination 7, no. 1 (1974): 77-94. Royall, Ann. The Black Book; or, a Continuation of Travels in the United States Washington, D.C.: NA, 1828. Schacker, Jennifer. National Dreams: The Remaking of Fairy Tales in NineteenthCentury England Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003.

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173 Smith-Rosenberg, Carroll. Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985. Srebnick, Amy Gilman. The Mysterious Death of Mary Rogers: Sex and Culture in Nineteenth-Century New York New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. Stout, Janis P. Sodoms in Eden: The City in American Fiction before 1860 Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1976. Streeby, Shelley. American Sensations: Class, Empire, and Popular Culture Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002. Tatar, Maria. The Classic Fairy Tales New York: Norton, 1999. The Hard Facts of the Grimms Fairy Tales Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987. Off with Their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992. Taylor, Edgar. Preface, In German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by Gammer Grethel translated by Edgar Taylor, ii-x. London: H. G. Bohn, 1856. Taylor, John Edward. Preface, In Il Pentamerone translated by John Edward Taylor, ii-xvi. London: David Bogue and J. Cundall, 1848. Thompson, George. City Crimes (Boston: William Berry and Company, 1849). In Venus in Boston And Other Tale s of Nineteenth Century Life edited by David S. Reynolds and Kimberly R. Gladman, 105-310. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002. My Life: Or the Adventures of Geo. Thompson. Being the Auto-Biography of an Author. Written by Himself (Boston: Bederhen & Co., 1854). In Venus in Boston and Other Tales of Nineteenth-Century Life edited by David S. Reynolds and Kimberly R. Gladman, 311-378. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002. Venus in Boston (New York: NA, 1849). In Venus in Boston And Other Tales of Nineteenth Century Life edited by David S. Reynolds and Kimberly R. Gladman, 1-104. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002. Tucher, Andie. Froth and Scum: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and the Axe Murder in Americas First Mass Medium Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994. Weekes, Karen. Poes Feminine Ideal. In The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe edited by Kevin J. Hayes, 148-162. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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174 Welter, Barbara. The Cult of True Womanhood. American Quarterly 18 (Summer 1966): 151-174. Whalen, Terence. Edgar Allan Poe and the Masses: th e Political Economy of Literature in Antebellum America Princeton: Princet on University Press, 1999. Wilkes, George. The Lives of Helen Jewe tt and Richard P. Robinson New York: George Wilkes, 1849. The Trial of Richard P. Robinson, Before the Court of Oyer and Terminer on the 2nd of June, 1836, for the Murder of Elle n Jewett, on the Night of the 9th of April, 1836 New York: George Wilkes, 1849. Zipes, Jack. The Great Fairy Tale Tradition from Straparaola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm New York: Norton, 2001. Victorian Fairy Tales: the Revolt of the Fairies and Elves New York: Routledge, 1987. When Dreams Came True: Classical Fairy Tales and Their Tradition New York: Routledge, 1999.

PAGE 182

175 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Robin Jean Gray Nicks was born and raised in Eddyville, Kentucky. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1999 and a Master of Arts in English in 2002 both from the University of Kentucky. She completed he r Doctorate at the Univ ersity of Florida.


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FAIRY TALES AND NECROPHILIA: A NEW CULTURAL CONTEXT FOR
ANTEBELLUM AMERICAN SENSATIONALISM
















By

ROBIN JEAN GRAY NICKS


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2006

































Copyright 2006

by

Robin Jean Gray Nicks















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

First, I want to express my gratitude to David Leverenz for reading and

commenting on endless drafts, encouraging me when I was on the verge of breakdown,

and pushing me to take my analysis to the next level. I also appreciate the support and

comments from Marsha Bryant, Kenneth Kidd, and Louise Newman. I simply could not

have dreamed of a better committee.

Thank you to the staff of the New York Public Library. They helped me find

primary sources and filled me in on seemingly trivial information about why some

sources were nearly impossible to track down. They went above and beyond the call of

duty, and without their help and interest this project would have been impossible.

I want to thank my parents for instilling in me a love of education and for indulging

my love of books, even when it was financially difficult. Finally, I want to thank my

husband for his unending support and encouragement. I would not have finished without

him.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S .................................................................... ......... .............. iii

LIST OF FIGURES ............................... ... ...... ... ................. .v

ABSTRACT .............. .................. .......... .............. vi

CHAPTER

1 INTRODUCTION ............... ................. ........... ................. ... .... 1

2 BEFORE DISNEY: READING PEDOPHILIA, INCEST, AND NECROPHILIA
IN CLA SSIC FAIRY TALES ........................................................ ............. 11

3 FROM THE FAIRY TALE PRINCESS TO THE NEW YORK PROSTITUTE:
SLEEPING BEAUTY AND THE BIG CITY..........................................................36

4 NECROPHILIA AND INCEST IN POE: THE REVENGE OF THE DEAD-
U N D E A D W O M A N ......................................................................... ...................67

5 SUBVERTING CAPITALISM, SUBVERTING FAIRY TALES: WICKED
WITCHES AND LIBIDINOUS BEAUTIES IN GEORGE LIPPARD'S THE
Q U A K E R C IT Y .............................................................................. ....................9 9

6 REINFORCING THE FAIRY TALE: PRETENDED SUBVERSION IN
GEORGE THOMPSON'S FICTION....................... ...............132

7 C O N C L U SIO N .......... .................................................................. ......... ....... .. 162

L IST O F R E FE R E N C E S ......... .. .................. ...................................... .......................168

BIO GR A PH ICA L SK ETCH .................................... ........... ................. .....................175
















LIST OF FIGURES


Figure page

2-1 Illustration for "Sleeping Beauty" from R. S. Gent's 1795 translation of
Perrault's Tales ofPassed Times ii /th Morals by Mother Goose ...............................27

2-2 George Cruikshank' s illustration for the Grimms' "Brier Rose"...............................28

3-1 "Ellen Jewett." Alfred M. Hoffy's rendering of Helen Jewett's corpse..................47















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

FAIRY TALES AND NECROPHILIA:
A NEW CULTURAL CONTEXT FOR ANTEBELLUM AMERICAN
SENSATIONALISM

By

Robin Jean Gray Nicks

May 2006

Chair: David Leverenz
Major Department: English

My dissertation investigates an understudied area of American sensational fiction

in the antebellum period-the influence of fairy tales. I trace the development of a

literary fascination with women's bodies from the fairy tales of Giambattista Basile,

Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm through the media coverage of the 1836 murder

of prostitute Helen Jewett, through the short fiction and poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, and

finally through the "porno-gothic" literature of George Lippard and George Thompson. I

argue that the English translations of Basile's, Perrault's and Grimms' fairy tales laid the

cultural groundwork that encouraged a fascination with women's dead bodies and the

seemingly necrophilic, incestuous, and pedophilic desires demonstrated in the American

public's fascination with Jewett's murder and the popularity of antebellum sensational

fiction.

My argument maintains that each subsequent author contributes something new to

the tradition of the fairy tale princesses by building upon the adaptations of previous









authors and twisting the plots and descriptions to suit his immediate purpose. James

Gordon Bennett adapts the tradition of the Sleeping Beauty to evoke erotic desire for a

murdered prostitute and further encourage passivity among women in Antebellum

America, whereas Edgar Allan Poe combines the sleeping beauty motif with active

women, like Jewett, who refuse the ultimate passivity of death and return to terrorize

their male oppressors. George Lippard mixes the fairy tale descriptions with Bennett's

sensational reporting style and Poe's Gothicism to create apocalyptic, anti-capitalist fairy

tales that work to reveal the excesses of the ruling elite. George Thompson, seeing the

success of the politically and socially subversive fiction of Lippard, couches his nearly

pornographic adaptation of fairy tale themes and descriptions in mock subversion.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

America's fascination with fairy tales is seemingly never-ending. From the 1729

English translation of Charles Perrault's Contes du Ma Mere L' Oye to the 2005 movie

The Brothers Grimm, Americans have engaged in a love affair with anything fairy tale

related. Americans' other passion seems to be reality television and crime dramas, the

gorier and more sensational the better. In fact, sex crimes and political scandals, most of

the time a mixture of the two, dominate the story lines of the highest rated non-reality

shows on television.

Writers on shows such as Law and Order: Special Victims Unit have capitalized on

American's love of fairy tales and sensational storylines by creating an amalgam that

keeps their ratings high enough to survive in a forum where viewers' tastes change

rapidly. From "Blue Beard" to "Sleeping Beauty" and "Snow White" to "Cinderella,"

The Law and Order franchise has referenced fairy tales too many times to count. Even

shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer have used "Sleeping Beauty" and "Blue Beard"

in at least two story lines, and reality shows such as What Not to Wear and Extreme

Makeover: Home Edition have incorporated elements of "Cinderella" into their very

premises. Each of these shows reinforces America's capitalist ideology that deserving

people get to move up the socio-economic ladder and live happily ever after, whereas

criminals receive their due punishment.

This amalgamation of fairy tale motifs with more risque fare is not new. In the

early nineteenth century, the antebellum American authors of sensationalism saw the









popularity of the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, Giambattista Basile, and Charles

Perrault and seized upon the opportunity to capitalize on their popularity by incorporating

fairy tale motifs into the sensational news and fiction of the day. That the authors of

sensational works wrote to evoke sensations, shock, and thrills from their readers,

purported to uncover '"the miseries and mysteries" of various urban centers, and used

their work as forum for their own political and social views worked well with the themes

and messages of the fairy tales.1 In fact, the use of popular fairy tale motifs helped

establish the New York Herald and catapult George Lippard's The Quaker City and

George Thompson's work to bestselling status. Even Edgar Allan Poe, who strove for

success throughout his career, wrote stories filled with references to fairy tales.

This dissertation will examine the works of each of these men, paying attention to

the ways in which each builds upon the work of his predecessor by incorporating Snow

Whites, Sleeping Beauties, and Cinderellas and adding his own take on the meaning and

place of the passive woman in Antebellum America. These writers did not simply use

fairy tales as they were; each transformed them and built upon the work of his

predecessor to further his personal agenda and enter into the antebellum debate about

American women's roles. This debate occurred among women and men alike, and "some

nineteenth-century women channeled their frustration with women's restricted roles

combined with a sense of superior rightness legitimized by the Cult of True Womanhood




1 For more on the content or the political and social work of antebellum sensationalism, see Stephen John
Hartnett, Democratic Dissent and the Cultural Fictions ofAntebellum America (Champain, IL: University
of Illinois Press, 2002); Shelley Streeby, American Sensations: Class, Empire, and the Production of
Popular Culture (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002); and Isabelle Lehuu, Carnival on the
Page: Popular Print Media in Antebellum America (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press,
2000).









into the reform movements of the first half of the nineteenth century."2 These women's

increased activity concerned many men and many other women, who encouraged the

piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity that the reformists rejected. Reformist

women worked within their prescribed roles, but their increased political and social

activity demonstrated their displeasure with an America that promised freedom but

oppressed over half its citizens.

Herald editor James Gordon Bennett's agenda was simply to sell more papers by

toying with both sides of the debate and creating sensational news stories that appealed to

the public's baser desires; Poe, like Bennett, catered to "the mob's" desires, but he

twisted the formula to demonstrate the horror of active women who refuse passivity.

Lippard had a more social and political motive in that he twisted the formula of the fairy

tale to further a socialist critique of the capitalist city in his sensational novels.

Thompson masked his nearly pornographic work by pretending to offer an anti-capitalist

critique like Lippard's, but the way in which he uses fairy tales simply reinforces the

repressive state structures that it pretends to subvert.

Chapter 2 begins by introducing the popularity and prevalence of fairy tales in

nineteenth-century America. Charles Perrault's Fairy Tales or Histories ofPast Times

was translated to English in 1727, and Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm's German Popular

Stories, translated from the Kinder und Hans Marchen was translated in 1823. Both

went through several reprintings and editions throughout the Nineteenth-Century. I

incorporate statements from Edgar Taylor, the English translator of the Grimms' stories,

magazine articles, and research on the number of translations and editions of these works


2 Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985), 109.









to establish the American popularity of Taylor's translations. The popularity of the tales

prompted Taylor to re-edit the tales, making them more suitable to British and American

culture. American writers tried their hands at both writing their own fairy tales, as

Nathaniel Hawthorne did with his Wonder Book, and at adapting fairy tales to American

settings, as Lydia Maria Francis Child did with her Evenings in New England.

I also discuss the political and social implications of the tales, especially those of

the Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella tale types. Each tale underscores and

reinforces patriarchal authority, even when that authority dictates a daughter marry her

father. Too, any woman who dares to assert her independence suffers severe punishment

and, often, death. The tales do not restrict their punishment to evil stepmothers. Though

Snow White and Cinderella's stepmothers suffer by the end of those tales, in many

others, the heroines themselves suffer before they find happiness. Their suffering clearly

results from their refusal to abide by their father's wishes, even when that wish is

incestuous. In each of these tales, the young woman has to disguise herself and become a

servant in another kingdom, where other servants and the king mock and abuse her. The

ending of these tales has the girl marrying the very king who has mocked and abused her

throughout her time as a servant, thus reestablishing the patriarchal authority that she had

subverted by running from her incestuous father.

After the discussion of fairy tales, Chapter 3 turns to the 1836 murder of New York

City prostitute Helen Jewett. I begin with a discussion of James Gordon Bennett's

descriptions of the scene and Helen Jewett's body. Bennett fails to include the autopsy

incisions, the charred nature of the body, and the gashes in her head. Had he described a

mutilated corpse, Bennett could not have talked of Jewett's "body" as "white" or of her









"perfect figure." Jewett had been mutilated not only by the murderer's axe, but also by

the autopsy knife before Bennett viewed the murder scene. Yet Bennett never mentions

these details, choosing, instead, to portray her as a modern version of Snow White or

Sleeping Beauty. Bennett positions himself as the prince who has discovered a "sleeping

beauty": "It was the most remarkable sight I ever beheld-I never have, and never

expect to see such another. 'My God,' exclaimed I, 'how like a statue! I can scarcely

conceive that form to be a corpse.' For a few moments I was lost in admiration at this

extraordinary sight-a beautiful female corpse." Like the fairy tale princes created by

Perrault and the Grimms, Bennett is compelled to look upon the dead "beauty."

Bennett's sensational reporting was not the end of the country's fascination with

Jewett's murder. I also examine the pamphlets and novels based upon the case. As late

as 1982, authors were continuing to focus their attentions on the case, and in each popular

pamphlet or novelization, Bennett's reports make up the foundation for the ending. Each

author literally reprints Bennett's articles with nearly no commentary or description of his

own. Obviously, this incorporation of "factual" reporting lends some authority or

credence to each fictionalized account, but it also demonstrates the importance of

Bennett's authorial voice in constructing the account of Helen Jewett's life and death.

Bennett and each successive author of Jewett's story incorporates details and motifs from

fairy tales to create an acceptably sympathetic figure out of a prostitute. They also

uncover the latent sexuality of the fairy tales in overtly emphasizing the erotic appeal of a

"sleeping beauty."

After Chapter 3 establishes the similarities between fairy tales and Bennett's

reporting of the Jewett murder, Chapter 4 examines the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe,









comparing and contrasting them to Grimms' and Perrault's fairy tales and Bennett's

descriptions of Jewett's corpse. Once I establish this connection between Poe, Bennett,

and necrophilic desire, I show how Poe's stories use and twist fairy tales. Indicating an

indirect relationship between Poe and the fairy tales, Francine Prose argues in her essay

"Sleeping Beauty," "By now it's probably clear that what I'm talking about is a sort of

modified necrophilia ... And yet it can be imagined, and has been imagined, again and

again, by the likes of Basile and Charles Perrault (the original authors, transcribers-or

whatever-of "Sleeping Beauty), by Edgar Allan Poe ... and, more recently, by Alfred

Hitchcock." Prose only mentions that Poe "imagined" necrophilia, as did Basile and

Perrault; she never suggests that fairy tales served as an impetus for Poe's literary

necrophilia. I build upon Prose's indirect association, establishing a direct correlation

between fairy tales and Poe's sensational fiction. In his reviews, Poe mentions the fairy

tales of the Grimms, Perrault, and even Giambattista Basile several times.

This section focuses on the stories in which Poe's male narrators are drawn to the

corpses of dead women, describing the dead bodies in terms such as "the mockery of a

faint blush upon the bosom and the face," "marble hand," "skin rivalling the purest

ivory," and "raven-black, the glossy, the luxuriant and naturally curling tresses." The

analysis of Poe's stories also considers the actions of the primary male characters and

narrators. In "The Premature Burial," a woman's male lover travels to her grave with

"the purpose of disinterring the corpse and possessing himself of its luxuriant tresses."

Once he has unearthed his lover's corpse, he discovers, "In fact, the lady had been buried

alive. Vitality had not altogether departed; and she was aroused, by the caresses of her

lover, from the lethargy which had been mistaken for death." Not only are the









descriptions of the women in Poe's stories similar to those of the fairy tale princesses, but

his male characters' actions parallel those of the fairy tale princes who awaken their

princesses with kisses.

I also detail the similarities between the settings of Poe's stories and those of the

fairy tales. In "Fall of the House of Usher," for example, the narrator describes the house

as being infused with "a sense of insufferable gloom," possessing "bleak walls," being

surrounded by "decayed trees," and evoking in the observer "an iciness, a sinking, a

sickening of the heart." The narrator's descriptions of the House of Usher are in keeping

with the descriptions of the homes in which the sleeping beauty of the fairy tales is

imprisoned. Both narrators describe the scenes in terms of "horror" and "silence."

Scenes of "gloom" or "death" are everywhere in both the House of Usher and the palace

in which Sleeping Beauty lies. The narrator of "Usher" never actually uses the word

"death" to describe the scenery, yet the "decayed trees," "insufferable gloom," and "bleak

walls" of the Usher home are as much the "image of death" as what the prince in

Perrault's tale encounters. Moreover, both Poe's narrator and Perrault's prince experience

a feeling of icinesss" or being "frozen with terror" upon first confronting the house or

palace.

At this point in the chapter, I look at the differences between Poe's stories and

those of the fairy tales. Wheras the fairy tales separate good and evil women into

different characters like the wicked stepmother, the wicked witch, the fairy godmother,

and the kind-hearted princess, Poe creates more complex female characters, combining

good and evil in one character. Drawing on Dawn Keetley's study "Victim and

Victimizer: Female Fiends and Unease over Marriage in Antebellum Sensational









Fiction," I read Poe's Ligeia, Morella, and Lady Usher as fiends and not just fairy-tale-

like heroines.3 In fact, Poe's stories, rather than emphasizing or encouraging passivity in

women, demonstrate men's terror of the active woman who refuses to remain dead.

Instead of instructing women to be passive, pious, pure, and domestic by encouraging

identification with a heroine who embodies these traits, Poe's stories encourage

identification with mentally ill narrators who fear active, unholy, tainted, and worldly

women who return from the dead to exact revenge on the men who sought to imprison

them within the confines of the home.

Chapter 5 considers the sensational works of Poe's contemporary and friend

George Lippard. Looking at Lippard's The Quaker City, or The Monks of Monk-Hall: a

Romance ofPhiladelphia Life, Mystery, and Crime, I compare and contrast Lippard's

work with Poe's stories by examining the descriptions of female corpses, the actions of

the male characters, and the settings of the stories. Moreover, I investigate Lippard's

reliance upon the popular fairy tales of the Grimms, Perrault, and Basile, Bennett's

reporting style, and Poe's dark romanticism as a means of gaining popularity. Since

Lippard was also a reformer, he incorporates these themes in a more politically

subversive manner than Poe's work does. Lippard's novel condemns those men who

would take advantage of women's passivity and piety and the very idea that women

should be passive.

The Quaker City repeatedly subverts the belief that woman's nature was passive

by depicting her "slumbering animal nature." In doing so, the novel also demonstrates

the dangers that the capitalist city poses to the True Woman. Thus, Lippard condemned

3 Dawn Keetley, "Victim and Victimizer: Female Fiends and Unease over Marriage in Antebellum Sensational Fiction," American
Quarterly 15.2 (1999), 344-384.









not only patriarchal control over women, but also the entirety of the cult of domesticity.

Equally important, his sensational and sexual novel builds upon those fairy tales that

depict father-daughter incestuous desire, by incorporating a reverend who attempts to

rape his daughter. The text, unlike those of the fairy tales and Poe, condemns incestuous

desire, demonstrating that a father's complete control over his family leads to ruin.

Throughout Lippard, he develops the motifs from fairy tales, Bennett, and Poe to further

his anti-capitalist agenda, pointing out the faults of the various repressive structures of

capitalism.

Turning to George Thompson, Chapter 6 demonstrates that Thompson used the

techniques of each subsequent author to help his novels Venus in Boston and City Crimes

get past the censors. I explore Thompson's relationship with publishers who were known

pornographers and argue that, contrary to the assertions of scholars such as David

Reynolds, Thompson was no radical democrat with a goal of subverting social norms and

political views. Indeed, Thompson masks his work in the language of subversion; he

mimics Lippard in pretending to subvert Christian ideology, the cult of domesticity, and

classism. Yet in every instance, Thompson's work immediate undoes any subversion by

reinforcing the notion that the evil capitalist who refuses to help the poor will be

punished in the afterlife, allowing only the pure and passive women to lead happy lives

whereas their active counterparts receive cruel punishments and death, and ensuring that

hardworking and honest poor men move up in society on their own merits and become

successful professionals.

Chapter 7 revisits women's social reform movements, exploring the reasons that

male writers like Bennett, Poe, and Thompson would turn to sensational depictions of sex









and violence to reinforce the Cult of True Womanhood. Looking backward to Susanna

Rowson's poem "The Rights of Woman," I reflect upon male writers desire to encourage

women to see their duties in a more favorable light. Bennett's and Thompson's works

emphasize the belief that when women succumb to the temptations of the world and

neglect their rights to piety, submissiveness, domesticity, and purity, they end up

abandoned, punished, or dead; In Thompson's work, it is all three. Poe's work takes a

different approach, forcing his reader to feel the terror of his male narrators when active

women refuse death and the ultimate passivity. Lippard approaches the issue of women's

rights and liberties in a different manner altogether, showing that capitalism gives women

few choices other than selling their bodies-through prostitution or marriage-to secure

stable futures for themselves.

Each point in my argument depends upon an understanding of and familiarity

with fairy tales from seventeenth century Italy and France and nineteenth century

Germany. These tales were the sensational fiction of their day, featuring familial

violence, death, incest, and what looks to us like pedophilia. Thus, it is no wonder that

the sensational authors of antebellum America turned to the fairy tales for inspiration and

thematic content. Like Basile, Perrault, and the Brothers Grimm, American sensational

writers used their art to instruct society on the proper behaviors for women-piety,

purity, domesticity, and passivity. Unlike the fairy tale authors, however, American

sensational writers' messages were complex and often contradictory, exposing the

conflict over gender roles and ideologies in the antebellum period.














CHAPTER 2
BEFORE DISNEY: READING PEDOPHILIA, INCEST, AND NECROPHILIA IN
CLASSIC FAIRY TALES

In 1937, Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length

animated film. Since then, it has been re-released to theatres an unprecedented nine times

and remains a favorite of children and adults everywhere. Disney used Jacob and

Wilhelm Grimms' 1812 version of "Little Snow White" as their guide, but watching the

film, one would never know how violent and strangely erotic the Grimms' tale is. The

Grimms' version of the "Snow White" tale, like all of the tales Disney adapted into

animated features, deals with far more adult themes than its more contemporary

counterpart. Motifs of what we now consider pedophilia, incest, and necrophilia are not

anomalies; they are intricately woven into many versions of the fairy tales across

countries.

These themes cross over into nineteenth century American popular culture after the

English translations of the fairy tales become widely available. This chapter will address

the role of the English translations of Giambattista Basile's IIPentamerone, Charles

Perrault's Tales ofPassed Times by Mother Goose i ih Morals, and Jacob and Wilhelm

Grimms' German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories as Told by Gammer Grethel in

socializing readers to Victorian models of gender-appropriate behavior, at the same time

weaving in overtly erotic material. It argues that the translations of these tales helped to

lay the cultural groundwork for and encouraged a fascination with women's dead

bodies-a necrophilic desire-incestuous relationships, and pedophilia-and that these










subjects, certainly taboo in antebellum America, contributed to solidifying the power of

men over women and the notion that "good" women were innately pious, pure,

submissive, and domestic. 1

The authors of fairy tales did not simply collect the tales and publish them as they

were. Basile wrote his tales in the Neapolitan dialect, fashioning them according to his

own tastes. Nancy L. Canepa explores theories relating to Basile's use of dialect: "many

critics view the use of dialect in literary form as part of the general phenomenon of

political and cultural decentralization and the ensuing regionalistic or municipalistic

fervor. Moreover ... its use implied a questioning of both literary predecessors and the

contemporary advocates of tradition."2 More importantly, Canepa explains, "[Dialect]

was almost automatically relegated to the domain of 'low' literary forms ... it could

serve the function of signaling that the work ... was not to be taken seriously and ... any

'message' contained therein could pose no significant threat to literary or social

institutions."3 Though Canepa's assertions that Basile's use of dialect serves to

undermine the authority of both literary and social institutions, she neglects an important


1 Many books and articles have been published about fairy tales and their interpretation and influence on
literature, but to my knowledge, there has been nothing written on fairy tales as one of sensationalism's
influences. See James M. McGlathery, Fairy Tale Romance: The Grimms, Basile, and Perrault (Urbana,
IL: Illinois UP: 1991); Nancy L. Canepa, From Court to Forest: Giambattista Basile's Lo cunto de li
cunti and the Birth of the Literary Fairy Tale (Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1999); Maria Tatar, Off with Their
Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1992); Jack Zipes,
Victorian Fairy Tales: the Revolt of the Fairies and Elves (New York: Routledge, 1987) and When
Dreams Came True: Classical Fairy Tales and Their Tradition (New York: Routledge, 1999); Jennifer
Schacker, National Dreams: The Remaking of Fairy Tales in Nineteenth-Century England (Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003); and Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore their
Favorite Fairy Tales, ed. Kate Bernheimer (New York: Anchor Books, 1998). See also the Norton
Critical Editions of Maria Tatar's The Classic Fairy Tales (New York: Norton, 1999); and Jack Zipes's
The Great Fairy Tale Tradition from Straparaola and Basile ot the Brothers Grimm (New York: Norton,
2001).

2 Canepa, 67.

3 Canepa, 69.









facet of the tales-the inherent messages about the evils of talkative, active women. Yet

her assertions about the use of dialect in literature bring to light aspects of George

Lippard's antebellum city novels, which will be discussed in Chapter Five, that might

otherwise be obscured.

Perrault, too, adapted the tales he collected to fit his agenda. The morals appended

to the end of each tale serve to socialize women to be less curious, more passive, and less

talkative. At the end of "The Blue Beard," the moral blames the curiosity of Blue

Beard's wife for upsetting him and, thus, putting herself in a dangerous situation: "0,

Curiosity, thou mortal bane! / Spit of thy charms, thou causes often pain ... And always

costs, alas! too dear the prize, / Which, in the moment of possession dies."4 That Blue

Beard murdered his previous wives and planned to do the same to the heroine of the tale

is overlooked in this moral. The woman in the tale bears the sole blame in its final moral.

Perrault added a second moral to the tale after readers' complaints revealed they were

unhappy with the fact that the original moral ignored Blue Beard's crimes. The narrator

takes on a more tongue-in-cheek tone in the second moral, asserting that the tale takes

place in the past and that husbands no longer behave so "terribly."

The first part of the three-part moral of Perrault's "The Sleeping Beauty in the

Wood" remains true to the author's patter of encouraging women to passively obey their

husbands. It proclaims:

To get a husband rich, genteel and gay,
Of humour sweet, some time to stay,
Is natural enough, 'tis true.
But then to wait an hundred years,
And all that while asleep, appears

4 Perrault, Charles, "The Blue Beard," Histories or Tales of Past Times with Morals, trans. Robert Samber
(London: J. Pote & R. Montagu, 1729), 30.









A thing entirely [sic] new.
Now at this time of day,
Not one of all the sex we see
To sleep with such profound tranquility.5

The story lauds the passivity of the story's main character over "the sex" "at this time of

day." She waited with "profound tranquility" for the perfect man rather than pursuing

him. Perrault clearly promotes the sleeping beauty's passive role in her relationship with

her rescuer and future husband. Perrault's addition of the morals and his removal of

"offensive" elements like rape is in keeping with his desire to make the tales useful and

instructional.6

The Grimms too edited their tales from their original oral forms. Ruth B.

Bottigheimer clarifies the Grimms' similar role: "Despite the ancient and international

lineage of many of the tales, the process of editing, codifying, and translating them

produced a distinctly nineteenth-century text, incorporating the gender-related

assumptions of Grimms' informants and of Wilhelm Grimm himself"7 Feminist critics

have gone further in explaining the messages inherent in the Grimms' tales: "Most

popular fairy tales, like 'Cinderella' and 'Snow White' and "Sleeping Beauty,' had

heroines who were passive, apparently dead or sleepwalking, dependent on the arrival of





5 Charles Perrault, "The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods," Tales ofPassed Times by Mother Goose with
Morals Trans. R. S. Gent (New York: J. Rivington, 1795), 57-58.

6 See Philip Lewis, Seeing Through the Mother Goose Tales: Visual Turns in the ;a ;r,,ii, of( 1l,, I..
Perrault (Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1996), 5, 149, & 168-170; and Ruth B. Bottigheimer, Grimms' Bad
Girls and Bold Boys: The Moral and Social Vision of the Tales (New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1987), 3. See
also Ruth B. Bottigheimer, "Silenced Women in Grimms' Tales: The 'Fit' between Fairy Tales and
Society in Their Historical Context," Fairy Tales and Society: Illusion, Allusion, and Paradigm ed. Ruth
B. P'. ,ihi.. ,,.. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986).

7 Ruth B. Bottigheimer, "Silenced Women in Grimms' Tales," 117.









the prince for any animation and for entry into a real life."8 In compiling and publishing

their Kinder- und Hausmarchen, the Grimms brought together a collection of stories that

encouraged women and girls to be passive, silent, and nearly lifeless. In the Grimms'

tales, the only perfect women are dead women. The nineteenth century American

public's fascination with Jewett's corpse and the female corpses in sensational fiction

reinforces this premise, as I will discuss in the following chapters.

Just as Basile, Perrault, and the Grimms did not simply record the tales from their

oral sources, the men who translated the tales into English worked to make the tales more

appealing and acceptable to English and American readers. In fact, Edgar Taylor's 1823

translation of the Grimms' tales, along with George Cruikshank's illustrations for

Taylor's edition, "fully transformed the tales into a popular and commercially viable

form of reading material."9 Jennifer Schacker maintains that like the Grimms, whose aim

was partly that their volumes "become a manual of manners," Taylor translated and

edited the tales with an eye to the customs and beliefs of his English and American

readers. Taylor's work clearly helped catapult the tales in the popular imagination.

Whereas the Grimms' tales were never best sellers (there were still 350 copies of the

second volume of the first edition on the shelf when the second edition was released, and

that took twenty years to sell 1500 copies), Taylor's translation proved popular with the

masses.10 In the September 1881 issue ofAtlantic Monthly, in "Koschei the Deathless;

or, the Diffusion of Fairy Tales," John Fiske discusses the immense popularity of the


8 Elizabeth Harries, Twice upon a Time: Women Writers and the History of the Fairy Tale (Princeton, NJ:
Princeton UP, 2001), 137.

9 Schacker, 13.
10 Schacker, 24-25.










fairy tales of Straparola, Basile, Perrault, Grimm, and The Arabian Nights in the Western

world, specifically focusing on American reception from the time of the first translations.

Fiske argues that they were so popular that each new translation led to demand for fairy

tales from other authors and regions.

In the preface to his 1856 translation of the Grimms' tales, Edgar Taylor (also the

translator of the 1823 version on which this essay relies) presents as justification for a

new edition of the tales that he was "first induced to compile this little work by the eager

relish with which a few of the tales were received by the young friends to whom they

were narrated."12 He continues, "Popular fictions and traditions are somewhat gone out

of fashion; yet most will own them to be associated with the brightest recollections of

their youth."13 Taylor's production of a new edition of the tales and his assertions in the

preface to the 1856 edition, as well as Fiske's comments about fairy tales in the Western

world, an 1846 translation by John Edward Taylor, and numerous "unauthorized"

translations and editions, further establish the popularity of the Grimms' tales.

The literary fairy tales written by Basile and Perrault enjoyed immense popularity

as well, though Basile presented a challenge to his early translators, who were wary of his

ribald humor and overt sexual references. Basile's Il Pentamerone proved a popular

source for folklorists as soon as the popularity of the Grimms' tales became evident. In

11 John Fiske, "Koschei the Deathless; or, the Diffusion of Fairy Tales," Atlantic Monthly 48.287
(September 1881), 310-321. See also Siegfried Neumann's "The Brothers Grimm as Collectors and
Editors of German Folktales," Donald Haase's "Response and Responsibility in Reading Grimms' Fairy
Tales," and Ruth B. Bottigheimer's "The Publishing History of Grimms' Tales" all in The Reception of
Grimms' Fairy Tales: Responses. Reactions. Revisions, ed. Donald Haase (Detroit: Wayne State UP,
1993).
12
1Edgar Taylor, "Preface," German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by Gammer Grethel
(London: H. G. Bohn, 1856), iv.
13 Edgar Taylor, iv.
Edgar Taylor, iv.









1828, Thomas Keightley included several of Basile's more risque tales in his Fairy

Mythology, and he late included others in his 1834 Tales andPopular Fictions. The first

English translation of IIPentamerone by John Edward Taylor in 1848 includes an

expansive preface explaining the process of translating and editing the tales for a

nineteenth century audience and placing the tome in the larger emerging body of folklore

studies. Taylor chose only thirty ofBasile's fifty stories for publication, changing even

those he included to omit "matter of offense." Taylorjustified his changes as necessary

for the English and American cultures of the day: "The gross license in which Basile

allows his humour to indulge is wholly inadmissible in a work intended for the general

reader; the moral sense of our age is happily too refined and elevated to tolerate

indelicacy."14 Writing just six years after the publication of George Lippard's best-

selling Quaker City, Taylor seems to have overlooked the immense popularity of the

penny presses and sensational fiction like Lippard's that featured humor and indulged in

immoral scenes of rape, incest, and murder.

Or, perhaps Taylor's reasons went further than he wanted to admit; perhaps he

realized that the tales' scenes of fatherly incest, rape and domestic abuse go unpunished

and uncritiqued, in contrast to those in Lippard and the sensational presses. Given the

success of such "indelicate" material as that frequently reported in the press, it is unlikely

that the masses' tastes were "too refined and elevated" to be able to handle Basile's tales.

More probably, John Edward Taylor recognized that the rewarding of what his nineteenth

century readers frowned upon would have left a strange, if not disgusting, taste in their

mouths.


14 John Edward Taylor, "Preface," II Pentamerone (London: David Bogue and J. Cundall, 1848), xv.









Charles Perrault's tales also proved popular, if the number of translations is any

indication. In 1729, Robert Samber translated Contes du MaMere L' Oye for the first

time into English. After this initial introduction to the English speaking world,

translators produced editions of both the full book and the individual tales, selling them

as small, cheap pamphlets.15 Because of the nature of the printing of the pamphlets with

cheap materials, there is no record of sales or of the actual number of different editions in

circulation in the nineteenth century. Yet this mass production in an affordable medium

suggests that they would have been widely read and circulated. Perrault also presented

fewer problems to his translators, since his stories rely on implication and subtext to hint

at "objectionable" or "offensive" elements; thus, even more than John Edward Taylor's

translation of Basile, these tales appealed to both adults and children.

In the same way that Basile, Perrault, the Grimms, and their translators did not

write down the tales as they were told them, Disney did not create a film that simply

reiterated the Grimms' tale. Disney's Snow White bears little resemblance to the tale on

which the company claims to have relied. Disney asserts that they made changes in order

to tone down the violence in their film, yet many of the changes have nothing to do with

the level of violence in the Grimms' original tale and everything to do with erotic

elements. Though Disney does not explicitly state Snow White's age, visual cues, such

as the character's height and fully developed body, hint that she is in her late teens or

early adulthood. In the first few minutes of the film, Snow White meets her prince at a

wall on the very day her stepmother decides to have her murdered.


15 Between the time of the first English translation of Perrault's tales in 1729 to 1850, there were at least
nineteen publications of individual stories and one grouping of three stories. In the same period, there were
at least twelve different editions of the entire collection.









Later, after Snow White eats the apple and falls into a deathlike sleep, the dwarfs

place her body on a pedestal. The dwarfs then chase the wicked stepmother, who

accidentally runs off the side of a cliff, plunging to her death in the raging water below.

A short time later, Prince Charming arrives, grief-stricken at the sight of his beloved

Snow White in her "sleeping death." He kisses her, she magically awakens, and they ride

off into the sunset to live happily ever after. Obviously, Disney's assertions that it

removed or changed the more violent episodes of the original tale suggest that their intent

was to make the story more appropriate for an audience of young children. Yet, they also

removed or changed episodes that have nothing to do with violence, episodes that deal

with erotic themes and that depict Snow White as vain and vengeful.

Though Wilhelm Grimm went back to the Kinder undHausmarchen, editing it so

that subsequent versions were more appropriate for children, the first version published in

1812 was intended to serve as a record of German folklore, reflecting the adult themes

inherent in the tales. Their "Snow White" of 1812 is far more violent than their final

version of 1857 and certainly more "adult" than Disney's film. Early in the story, the

narrator tells us, Now Snow White grew up, and when she was seven years old, she was

so beautiful, that she surpassed even the queen herself."16 The queen of the story is not

Snow White's stepmother; she is the girl's biological mother, the woman who is

supposed to lover and put her well being above all others.

The major conflict in this story, and in many fairy tales, occurs because of female

jealousy. Here, Snow White's mother's jealousy overrides her love for her own

daughter; in all versions of the "Cinderella" tale, the heroine's stepmother and stepsisters

16 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, "Snow-White," German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by
Gammer Grethel trans. Edgar Taylor (London: H. G. Boh, 1823), 152.









torment the girl only because they envy her youth and beauty. Female jealousy or vanity

sets many of these tales in motion. The archetype of the "evil stepmother" or "evil

stepsister" pervades antebellum American sensationalism, prompting James Gordon

Bennett to speculate that the "true" murderer of Helen Jewett was one of her housemates

who had become jealous of the girl's beauty, charms, and success with men.

The Grimms' Snow White presents an element of the tale that is as strange as her

mother trying to kill her; the heroine is but seven years old. The age of the heroine

creates a pedophilic air about the text that also persists in sensationalism. The major

events that lead to her death occur over a four-day period, and though "she lay there in

the coffin a long, long time," "she did not decay She lay there as if asleep.""17 The

narrator implies that the girl not only does not decay, but also does not age as she appears

"as if asleep." Thus, when the prince, whom she has never met, finds her and seems to

fall in love with her, he falls in love with a child, an element even more disturbingly

evoked in the tales of Edgar Allan Poe.

The narrator affirms that although she looks as though she is living, Snow White is

really dead: "There came no breath out of her mouth, and she was dead ... They would

have buried her, but that she looked still as if she were living, with her beautiful

blooming cheeks."18 Unlike the Disney version, in which Snow White has fallen down

in a deep slumber, the Grimm version makes it clear that "she was dead." Rather than

falling down "as if" dead, Snow White looks "as if she were living." When the prince

looks upon Snow White's body in her glass coffin, he declares, "I beseech you to give it


17 Grimm, "Snow-White," 155.

18 Grimm, "Snow-White," 155.









to me, for I cannot live without looking upon Snow White."19 The prince does not

express love for Snow White; her "beautiful female corpse," an "it' to possess, enthralls

him. A man's obsession with the beautiful corpse of a woman appears continuously in

American fiction of the nineteenth century in the penny presses, Poe's fiction, and the

sensation fiction of writers such as George Lippard and George Thompson.

Though Disney omits the prince's obsession with Snow White's corpse from their

film, in Grimms' tale it readily presents itself. The narrator explains that when the prince

first sees Snow White in the glass coffin, he is so struck by her beauty that "he cannot get

enough." More importantly, the narrator describes the depth of the prince's interest in the

girl's body:

He read the golden inscription and saw that she was the daughter of a king.
He asked the dwarfs to sell him the coffin with the dead Snow-White, but they
would not do this for any amount of gold. The he asked them to give her to him,
for he could not live without being able to see her, and he would keep her, and
honor her as his most cherished thing on earth. Then the dwarfs took pity on him
and gave him the coffin.
The prince had it carried to his castle, and had it placed in a room where he
sat by it the whole day, never taking his eyes from it. Whenever he had to go out
and was unable to see Snow-White, he became sad. And he could not eat a bit,
unless the coffin was standing next to him.20

Here, unlike in Disney's version, the prince obsesses over the object of his lust-Snow

White. He has never met her, and he falls in love not with a dearly departed love but

with the corpse of a child upon whom he has never before laid eyes. Moreover, he does

not see her as someone with whom he can have a relationship, nor can he since she is

dead. He sees her as a gaze-object to be bought and sold, offering the dwarfs "any

amount of gold" for her. When they refuse to sell here, he begs them to let him have her


19 Grimm, "Snow-White," 156.

20 Grimm, "Snow-White," 156-7.









so that he can "see her," assuring them that he will treat her as "his most cherished thing

on earth." He does not love her; he does not even see her as a person. He refers to her as

a "thing" to be cherished, and much like a horse, she has exquisite breeding.

The prince's insistence that he be able to view Snow White's body at all times

seems at best neurotic, but it also points to his power over her. The prince's power

directly correlates with his ability to gaze at the girl's body. Elizabeth Bronfen explains

the prince's need to "see" the coffin and Snow White: "Seeing means possession and

pleasure while the act of idealizing annuls both the femininity of the adored dead object

and its insertion in temporality."21 Snow White's prince can possess her in death in a

way that he cannot in life. He has full control over her and laments if he has to be away

from her body because it reminds him of the limits of his power. Death and the prince's

idealization of her corpse annul Snow White's femininity, that part of her that holds

power over men. Because she is dead and because the prince can look upon her with rare

interruption and no censure, Snow White presents no challenge to his authority. She

cannot object or fight back; she cannot say that she does not want to go with him. The

prince has her as his complete command; thus Snow White is the perfect woman by

antebellum standards.

Even though the narrator of Basile's "The Young Slave" never gives a detailed

description of Lisa when she is dead, the queen's reasons for disguising Lisa as a slave

reveal an awareness of men's necrophilic desires. When Lisa's mother dies, she gives

her brother, the king, the key to the room in which Lisa's corpse lies seven crystal

coffins, one inside another. She never tells him what is inside the room; she only asks

21 Elizabeth Bronfen, Over Her Dead Body: Death, Femininity, and the Aesthetic (New York: Routledge,
1992), 100.









him to swear not to enter it. He leaves his new wife in charge of the key while he travels,

telling her, as Blue Beard tells his wife, not to enter the room. Of course, she enters it

and finds the "beauteous" dead body of Lisa. 22

Not knowing Lisa's identity, the queen reacts violently:

'Bravo, my priest; key in waistband, and ram within; this is the reason why
I was so earnestly begged not to open this door, so that I should not behold
Mohammed, whom he worshippeth within these chests.' Thus saying, she pulled
her out by the hair of her head she at once cut off the damsel's hair, and gave
her a good drubbing, and arrayed her in rags.23

The queen believes that the king kept her from the room because he "worshippeth" Lisa.

At the very least, she believes that he admires the "beauteous" corpse lying within the

chests. Likely, she believes her husband has been having sex with the corpse, releasing

the "ram within." The queen's violent behavior upon finding the girl evinces her

jealousy. If she merely thought that the king was looking at Lisa's corpse, her reaction

would have been less violent toward the girl. The queen's actions indicate her keen

awareness of male desire for a lifeless woman with whom to engage in intimate

intercourse.

The male gaze functions in other fairy tales as well, pointing to the hero's power

over the subjugated, dead female body. The narrator of Charles Perrault's "Sleeping

Beauty" describes the prince's reactions upon entering the palace, saying that what he

sees is enough to "freeze his blood with terror" and that "Death seemed to be

everywhere."24 Despite the "death" that seems to be around him, the prince presses


22 Giambattista Basile, "The Young Slave," II Pentamerone, or The Tale of Tales. trans. Sir Richard
Burton (New York: Boni & Lieveright, 1927), 117. Reprint of the 1893 edition.
23 Basile, "The Young Slave," 117.

24
2Charles Perrault, "The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods," Histories or Tales of Past Times with Morals,
trans. Robert Samber (London: J. Pote & R. Montagu, 1729), 20.










onward and encounters the sleeping princess, who possesses "radiant charms" that make

her appearance "luminous and supernatural."25 In their "Brier Rose," Jacob and Wilhelm

Grimm's narrator explains the prince's reaction upon finding the sleeping princess after

encountering seeming death: "There she lay, and her beauty was so marvelous that he

could not take his eyes off her."26 Similarly, in the Grimms' less familiar "The Glass

Coffin," the narrator describes the hero's reaction upon finding a "glass coffin" in which

lay a seemingly dead woman: "How his admiration increased when he saw therein a

maiden of the greatest beauty!"27

Sexual imagery figures more prominently in the texts of both Perrault's and the

Grimms' fairy tales. In Perrault's "Sleeping Beauty," the narrator explains, "great trees

and brambles and thorns opened of their own accord and allowed [the prince] to pass

,,28
through."2 Similarly, in Grimms' "Brier Rose," "Beautiful flowers that opened of their

own accord, let him through, and then closed again like a hedge."29 By describing the

prince's penetration of the barrier that had grown up around the castle, the narrator

alludes to the prince's penetration of the "sleeping beauty." Because the "trees and

brambles and thorns" and "beautiful flowers" "opened of their own accord" in both

Perrault's and the Grimms' versions of the tale, the reader understands that the prince's

penetration of the sleeping beauty is consensual.


25
2Perrault, "The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods," 20.

2Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, "Brier Rose," German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by Gammer
Grethel trans. Edgar Taylor (London: H. G. Bohn, 1823), 30.

27 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, "The Glass Coffin," The Complete Tales of the Brothers Grimm ed. Jack
Zipes, 3rd edition, (New York: Bantam, 2003), 483.

28 Perrault, 19.

29 Grimm, "Brier Rose," 29-30.









In an earlier version of the "sleeping beauty" tale, Giambattista Basile's "Sun,

Moon, and Talia," penetration is literal rather than figurative, and it is not consensual.30

In this tale, "Unfortunately, one of the chips of the flax entered her nail, and Talia fell

dead upon the ground."31 The princess is not a "sleeping beauty" but a "dead" beauty.

When the hero of the tale finds the "dead" woman, "he believed that she slept, and he

called her, but she remained insensible, and crying aloud, he felt his blood course hotly

through his veins in contemplation of so many charms; and he lifted her in his arms, and

carried her to a bed, whereon he gathered the first fruits of love."32 The king of this tale

"believed" the princess was sleeping, but he cannot wake her. He "called her," and still

she did not respond. Though the reader knows that the princess is dead, the king

"gathered the first fruits of love." He does not hesitate to put out the fire that "her

charms" had set, and the fact that she was dead may have been part of the allure. As a

corpse, the princess does not possess the ability to reject the king's advances. Basile also

includes a hint of realism in his tale when the king returned to his kingdom and "for a

time thought no more of this incident."33 Instead of Talia waking up and living "happily

ever after" with the king, Talia remains dead or asleep, and the king forgets all about her

for nearly a year.





30
3In his preface to the 1856 English translation of Grimms' tales, Edgar Taylor discusses the similarities
between Basile's story and both Perrault's and Grimms' versions. Thus, even though Basile was not yet
translated into English it is possible that his stories were also widely known.

31 Giambattista Basile, "Sun, Moon, and Talia," II Pentamerone, or The Tale of Tales. trans. Sir Richard
Burton (New York: Boni & Lieveright, 1927), 420. Reprint of the 1893 edition.
32 Basile, "Sun, Moon, and Talia," 421-422.

33 Basile, "Sun, Moon, and Talia," 422.









Though Basile had not yet been translated into English, English and American

readers likely knew the tale well, since Poe and his contemporaries reference this tale on

several occasions prior to John Edward Taylor's edition of 1848. In his edition, Taylor

includes the tale but removes the rape. Instead, the king "admired her beauty a while,"

and nine months later Talia gives birth to twins. Clearly, a sexual encounter must have

taken place, but Taylor takes great pains to obscure it. Even so, the sexual aspect of the

tale must have been widely known. In his 1823 translation of the Grimms' tales, Edgar

Taylor footnotes his translation "Brier Rose" to explain that Basile's version was one

source that the brothers used in writing their own tale. Taylor summarizes the plot of

Basile's version, touching upon the prince's sexual encounter with the sleeping woman.

This explanation functions to further highlight the latent sexuality in the Grimms' tale.

Taylor's summary adeptly hints at the appeal of the more sanitized tales of the Grimms

by pointing to Basile as the repressed ground from which the Grimms' stories grew.

The illustrations of Perrault's and Grimms' "Sleeping Beauty" tales further point to

both the power of the male gaze and the tales' latent sexuality. In R. S. Gent's 1795

translation of Perrault's Tales ofPassed Times by Mother Goose itil Morals, the picture

of Sleeping Beauty shows the princess asleep with her head turned slightly to the side,

facing the reader (Figure 2-1). A light shines in upon the young woman's body,

illuminating only her and her servant girl even though a third, faceless and seemingly

sexless figure appears to be slumped over in the floor next to the bed. Though Sleeping

Beauty is fully clothed, the dress of her servant seems to have slipped off the shoulder;

moreover, the neckline of the servant's dress plunges, and she sits with legs spread in a

most unladylike manner.











































Figure 2-1. Illustration for "Sleeping Beauty" from R. S. Gent's 1795 translation of
Perrault's Tales ofPassed Times n iith Morals by Mother Goose34

Though this drawing obviously conveys less overt sexuality than Alfred M. Hoffy's

pornographic depiction of the dead prostitute Helen Jewett, the servant girl's slightly

revealing dress and splayed legs are certainly suggestive. By associating the more sexual

components with the servant girl, the illustration preserves the piety and chastity of

Sleeping Beauty while still incorporating a sexual element.35 That the girls are depicted


34 From Perrault, 14.

35 None of the critics who have examined fairy tales mentions this aspect of the tale.









as sleeping gives the presumed male viewer power. Though they are turned toward the

viewer, the girls do not gaze out. They sleep the sleep of death, completely passive and

vulnerable to the desires and power of the viewer, who sees them just as the prince of the

story does. Neither prince nor reader risk rejection from the sleeping, or dead, girls.

In George Cruikshank's illustration for Taylor's 1823 translation of the Grimms'

tales, Brier Rose is alone, lying on her side with her head turned toward the reader

(Figure 1-2). A light shines on her. In addition, even though this portrait presents a fully

clothed and less sexualized sleeping woman, the bed linens are pulled slightly down,

revealing Brier Rose's upper torso. The illustration demonstrates her voluptuous figure,

again giving the reader an experience similar to that of the story's prince. Both reader

and prince are again in a position of power over the lifeless girl, who cannot look out of

the picture. She cannot wield any power, nor can she actively participate in choosing her

own future; she is at the mercy of the reader and the prince.
















Figu



Figure 2-2. George Cruikshank's illustration for the Grimms' "Brier Rose"36


36 From Grimm, 25.









Many fairy tale heroines are at the mercy of the people who should have their best

interests at heart-their parents. As mentioned earlier, her own mother tortures and kills

a seven-year-old Snow White in the Grimms' 1812 version of the tale. Another parental

villain poses a threat to the heroines of tales such as Basile's "The She-Bear," Perrault's

"Donkey-Skin," and the Grimms' "All-Fur." In each of these tales, after the main

character's mother dies, her father commands her to marry him to satisfy both his desires

and his wife's dying wish that he not marry until he finds a woman who surpasses her in

beauty. Though incestuous marriage between a father and daughter seems an odd subject

for a fairy tale, the theme runs through many tales from different cultures. The frequency

with which the subject of incest occurs in fairy tales suggest that it may have been an all

too common reality for many women.37 Maria Tatar explains that there was "no distinct

dividing line between the fiction of fairy tales and the facts of everyday life, or at least

the most sensational aspects of everyday life."38 Thus, fairy tales likely functioned in

much the same way as today's tabloids and antebellum America's penny presses, as a

means of entertaining their audiences with the sensational.

In each of these tales, the motivational force behind the inest is the mother's dying

wish that her husband only remarry when he finds a woman who surpasses her beauty.

When the father overcomes his grief, he succumbs to the need to produce a male heir, but

fearing a curse from his dead wife, he searches for a woman to fulfill her wish. In each

tale, the only woman who even comes close to surpassing the wife's beauty is the




37 Threatened or actual incest occurs in at least eight tale types on the Aarne-Thompson scale. See types
313E, 510B, 706, 706A, 706B, 706C, 712, and 883A.
38 Maria Tatar, The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1987), 140.









daughter. Rather than trying to fight the incestuous desire to marry his own daughter, the

father in each tale commands her to marry him.

The dying wish of the queen makes clear that she does not wish to be replaced; she

wants to remain the sole object of her husband's affection. The wish also clarifies the

queen's vanity. The queen in Basile's "The She-Bear" threatens her husband: "Show

unto me a proof of thy love and give me a promise that thou wilt never marry, unless thou

meetest one beautious as I have been; and if thou wilt not do so, I will leave thee a curse,

and I will hate thee even in the other world."39 The queen's threatened curse weights

heavily on the kind's mind and, in fact, is the only thing keeping him from remarrying

quickly. In Perrault's tale, the queen takes a gentler approach, making no threats but

executing what the narrator later explains is an impossible wish: "Wait [to remarry] until

you have found a woman more beautiful and better formed than myself"40 The queen in

the Grimms' tale, like most of their female characters, has no dialogue, but the narrator

tells us of her dying wish: "[She] asked him not to marry anyone following her death,

unless she was just as beautiful as she, and unless her hair was just as golden as hers."41

The king's search for a woman to fulfill his wife's conditions yields no fruit until

he discovers that his daughter possesses every required characteristic. The narrator refers

to the girl as "made from the same mould as her mother," possessing "a charm and

beauty which even the queen had not," and "as beautiful as her mother, and she had the


39 Giambattista Basile, "The She-Bear," II Pentamerone, or The Tale of Tales. trans. Sir Richard Burton
(New York: Boni & Lieveright, 1927), 151. Reprint of the 1893 edition.
40 Charles Perrault, "Donkey-Skin," The Grey Fairy Book ed. Andrew Lang. (Longmans, Green, & Co.,
1900), 1.

41 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, "All Fur," The Great Fairy Tale Tradition from Straparaola and Basile ot
the Brothers Grimm ed. Jack Zipes (New York: Norton, 2001), 47.









same golden hair" in Basile, Perrault, and the Grimms, respectively.42 The girl becomes

a replacement for her mother, with the narrator referring to her only in terms of

comparison with her mother. She has no true identity of her own; Perrault and the

Grimms don't even give her character a name. Her father sees only her mother in her, a

motif that will recur in Poe's "Morella" and Lippard's Quaker City.

Basile's "The She-Bear" serves as an exemplar of his incest tales. The tale, along

with Perrault's "Donkey Skin" and the Grimms' "All Fur," is actually classified as type

510B ("A King Tries to Marry His Daughter") on the Aarne-Thompson scale of folktale

classification. Certainly, the tale involves this motif, but Basile's tale also hints of

bestiality. In Basile's version, the king's desire goes further than simply wanting to

marry his daughter, reaching to the overtly incestuously sexual: "The king made his way

to [his daughter Preziosa's] bed chamber, and called to the bride to come and fulfill his

desire."43 Even though the father's insistence that his daughter "fulfill his desire" in her

bed chamber disturbs the modern reader, most of the tale focuses on another man's

disturbing attraction to Preziosa.

With the help of an old woman, Preziosa turns herself into a bear to escape her

father. When she arrives in the woods, a handsome prince comes upon her, and she puts

her head down for him to stroke. He takes her home to live in his garden and becomes so

obsessed with her, even though she remains in bear form, that he brings her inside to

cook, clean, and take care of him. Still in bear form, Preziosa performs her domestic

duties to perfection, an implication that gender roles are innate, and the prince's


42 Basile, "The She-Bear," 153; Perrault, "Donkey-Skin," 3; Grimm, "All Fur," 48.

43 Basile, "The She-Bear," 153.









obsession with her grows: "If he had been consumed himself in a slow fire before, he

burned with intense heat now ... Then the bear obediently neared the prince, who taking

her cheeks between his fingers, could not leave off kissing her on the lips."44 It is not

until after the prince has kissed the bear that she changes back into the princess.

Basile's story hints at bestiality, brining the reader to the point at which the prince

begins to consummate his attraction to the bear and stopping just short of that

consummation. That the bear is really a princess serves to obviate the bestiality at play in

this tale, making it part of the overall love story. This trick of titillation and obviation is

one that Lippard uses in The Empire City to titillate his reader with a seemingly

homosexual, pedophilic relationship between a minister and his student. We learn

several pages into the scene that the minister lavishes his affections not on a boy but on a

young woman in disguise. Just as in Lippard's novel, where the true identity of the

young woman masks an erotically homosexual encounter, the reader knows the bear's

true identity, and the narrative almost masks the prince's bestial desire. Yet the story

makes clear that the prince desires the bear.

Perrault's "Donkey Skin" takes the incestuous desire to a different level. The tale

includes a moral that characteristically encourages women's obedience and virtue. The

narrator explains: "It is not hard to see that the moral of this tale is that it is better to

undergo the greatest hardships rather than to fail in one's duty, that virtue may sometimes

seem ill-fated but will always triumph in the end."45 The moral presents a puzzle to the

careful reader: are the "greatest hardships" related to the incestuous advances of the


44 Basile, "The She-Bear," 157.

45 Perrault, "Donkey-Skin," 15.









father or to her life as a "poor wretch" who cleans pig troughs? Might the narrator want

the reader to equate the two? Could cleaning pig troughs be as horrible as being

proposed to by one's own father?

The story presents other difficulties to the reader. When the princess's father

proposes marriage, her godmother urges her that she must not disobey but must ask for

gifts that the king cannot possible acquire-a dress"the color of the sky," then a dress

"the color of the moon," then one "as shining as the sun," and finally, the skin of a

donkey who, instead of dung, "dropped a great load of gold coins." As the king

acquires each item, the princess's resistance to marriage with her father diminishes. With

each request, she is "filled now with both happiness and fear," is "again delighted with its

beauty," and "did not know how to thank the king."47 The princess's resolve wavers in

proportion to the beauty of the gifts her father bestows upon her. It's as though she sees

shiny dresses and is ready to marry her father. More significantly, when the marriage

does not take place, the people at court are heartbroken because there will be no feast or

grand party.

That the girl's flight from her father works, at first, to her disadvantage further

complicates the story: "She looked so unattractive and indeed so repulsive in her Donkey

Skin disguise that no one would have anything to do with such a creature .. she was

exposed to the low jokes and ridicule of all the other servants."48 Her treatment after

fleeing her father functions as a sort of punishment for her disobedience. Rather than



46 Perrault, "Donkey-Skin," 2-6.

47 Perrault, "Donkey-Skin," 2-8.

48 Perrault, "Donkey-Skin," 13.









being lauded for her high moral character, the young woman loses her family, her friends,

and her beauty. She must work in filth and fact the scorn of even the lowest of the low.

Only after a long time in her life as a servant, after she has been fully punished, does she

find happiness with the prince.

Grimms' "All Fur" features motifs and action nearly identical to "The She-Bear"

and "Donkey Skin." Yet this story, unlike those of Basile and Perrault, features domestic

violence that appears both acceptable and an inherent part of a love relationship. She

must pull off the king's boots before he gets into bed at night. Every night, "when she

had pulled them off, he always threw them at her head."49 This abuse does not occur

only once; it "always" happens. That king abuses her in her role as his servant would not

be at all strange if the girl does not go to great lengths to arouse the king's notice and a

marriage proposal. More importantly, the Grimms actually toned down the abuse. In

many versions of the tale, the prince's abuse of his future bride takes a far more violent

track, featuring frequent beatings, as well as, in one instance, rape.o The young

woman's pursuing the king with an eye to marriage says to the reader that this type of

domestic abuse was not only acceptable, but possibly desired.

In none of these tales does the father receive any sort of punishment. His authority

over his child remains unchecked even when he clearly does not have her best interests in

mind. In fact, D. L. Ashlimann performed a study whose results indicate that modem

readers frequently read these tales thinking the king that the girl meets in the forest (or for

whom she goes to work) is, in fact, her father. Ashlimann argues that it is likely people


49 Grimm, "All Fur," 49.
50 D. L. Ashliman, "Incest in Indo-European Fairy Tales," 14 November 1997 D. L. Ashliman 's Homepage.
22 February 2006 hup \\ \ \\ .pitt.edu/-dash/incest.html.









hearing the stories in the days preceding their recording and people who read the stories

communally after their literary publication read them as stories about the consummation

of a father's incestuous desire.51 Thus, the ending pairs the princess with her father,

living happily ever after.

These fairy tales in their original languages and in their English translations serve

to encourage the traits of what came to be known as the Cult of True Womanhood-

purity, piety, submissiveness, and domesticity-in an age when the "woman question"

began to rage. They maintain paternal authority when a father is present, and the primary

conflicts in stories where a father is absent occur between women competing for male

attention. The authors literalize active women as ogresses, who die tortuous deaths in

snake pits and red-hot iron shoes. The function of socialization has a prominent place in

these texts, but the proliferation of the motifs of necrophilia, incest, and pedophilia

remains most striking.

These motifs became staples of the sensational press. As we will see in the next

chapter, James Gordon Bennett and other editors institutionalized their papers with the

sensational news coverage of the 1836 murder of Helen Jewett, a prostitute in New York.

Bennett and others transformed Jewett into various fairy tale characters, evoking

sympathy for her and simultaneously warning others of the dangers of the female fiend.

Jewett's corpse becomes a sleeping beauty, and the owner of the brothel where Jewett

resided and conducted business becomes a wicked stepmother envious of the young

woman's charms


51 D. L. Ashlimann, "Incest in Indo-European Fairy Tales."















CHAPTER 3
FROM THE FAIRY TALE PRINCESS TO THE NEW YORK PROSTITUTE:
SLEEPING BEAUTY AND THE BIG CITY

On 10 April 1836, New York City brothel owner Rosina Townsend and one of her

prostitutes discovered Helen Jewett's murdered and charred body. The murder instantly

became a sensation, with the city's men lining up to see the body of the young woman;

moreover, it helped put the penny presses, particularly The New York Herald, on the map.

Newspapers and subsequent fictional accounts printed in pamphlets covered not only the

events surrounding the murder and subsequent trial, but also Jewett's background, the

background of alleged murderer Richard P. Robinson, the relationship between the two,

and the crime scene, specifically the body of the murder victim.1 Scholars such as

Patricia Cline Cohen and David Anthony believe this case to be the primary catalyst for

sensationalism.2 The press coverage of the case reached proportions previously unheard

of. Complete transcripts of Richard P. Robinson's five-day trial ran in several major

papers, at least six pamphlets about the murder and trial were published, and local artists

distributed lithographs of"Jewett on her bed in various states of undress."3



1 David Anthony, "The Helen Jewett Panic: Tabloids, Men and the Sensational Public Sphere in
Antebellum New York," American Literature 69.3 (1997). Patricia Cline Cohen, The Murder ofHelen
Jewett: the Life and Death of a Prostitute in Nineteenth-Century New York (New York: Vintage Books,
1998).

2 Anthony explains that the penny presses anticipated "the representational politics of much of the
sensational fiction being produced during the period, including not only Gothic and detective narratives by
Poe in the 1830s and 1s4''. but also neo-Gothics of the mid 1840s and early 1850s ... such works resemble
the tabloid coverage of the Jewett case" (491). See also Patricia Cline Cohen, "The Mystery of Helen
Jewett: Romantic Fiction and the Eroticization of Violence," Legal Studies Forum 17.2 (1993).

3 Anthony, 489.









As Cohen argues more directly, "In fact, the genre (sensationalism) dates precisely

from the antebellum years of the Jewett murder, and the sensation and popularity of

murder mystery and detective fiction, whose literary conventions were pioneered by

Edgar Allan Poe, a resident of New York City in the year 1837."4 Cohen implies that

even though Poe moved to New York City after Jewett's murder, he may well have been

inspired by the crime and the public sensation it caused. Indeed, it would have been

difficult for Poe, or anyone living in the United States in the years immediately

succeeding the murder and trial, to avoid knowing about the case. It was covered in

newspapers across the country, including the Cincinnati Mirror and Saturday Evening

Post, and was still a fixture in the penny presses for years after the trial.5 One hundred

and fifty years after the murder, an historical novel made the Jewett murder its focus. As

we will see in later chapters, fiction of the period alluded to both Bennett's coverage and

the pamphlets that fictionalized the case.

The descriptions distributed in the penny presses and pamphlet fiction based on the

murder echo those of the fairy tales. Still, while the accounts of Jewett's life and murder,

like the fairy tales before them, demonstrate society's desire to warn women of the

dangers of life outside of marriage and family, they betray a competing desire for access

to women's bodies and sex lives. These accounts leave little to the reader's imagination

when they detail Jewett's relationships with men; they allow the reader full access to the

life and the body of the dead woman, access they would not be granted to the body of a




4 Cohen, "The Mystery of Helen Jewett: Romantic Fiction and the Eroticization of Violence," 133.

5 The Cincinnati Mirror. Cincinnati, OH, June 18, 1836. Page 1; Atkinson's Saturday Evening Post. New
York, June 25, 1836 and July 16, 1836.









living woman or of a virtuous woman. But why were readers so interested in this case, in

the life and body of a prostitute, for so long?

Discussing death and desire in the Nineteenth Century, Russ Castronovo explains,

"Dead women are politically erotic for men, bearing a privacy invulnerable to the claims

of the past and needs of the present ... The female corpse's passivity offers comfort."6

Later Castronovo links the political eroticism of the female corpse to literary eroticism:

"Perhaps Poe best appreciated women's death as an occasion of male cathexis in his 1846

remark that 'the death, then, of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably the most poetical

topic in the world.""7 Castronovo's assessment of female corpses as political and Poe's

assessment of them as poetical touch on aspects of the fairy tales of Giambattista Basile,

Charles Perrault, and the Brothers Grimm-all of whom created poetical, political tales

that encouraged passivity in women, with many of the tales centering on female corpses.

Jewett's murder helped establish the penny presses within the world of journalism.

Andie Tucher explores the rise of the penny press in her Froth and Scum: Truth, Beauty,

Goodness, and the Axe Murder in America's First Mass Medium, asserting that their

development and evolution contributed to objectivity in reporting. Tucher examines the

differences in reporting styles of the 1836 murder of Helen Jewett and the 1841 murder

of Samuel Adams. Asserting that James Gordon Bennett's style had changed in the five

years between the Jewett and Adams cases, Tucher claims that Bennett reported on all






6 Russ Castronovo, Necro Citizenship: Death, Eroticism, and the Public Sphere in the Nineteenth-Century
United States (Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2001), 130.

7 Castronovo, 149.









aspects of both cases, but in the Adams case, he created no fictions and called for the

blood of the perpetrator.8

In her analysis of Bennett's changing style, Tucher looks only at the Jewett and

Adams cases; she looks at none of Bennett's reporting in the five years between the

murders, nor does she look at Bennett's other stories that appeared at the same time or

after the Adams case. In fact, my research demonstrates that Bennett continued his

periodic reporting and speculation on the Jewett case for several years. He focused

especially on the lives of Robinson and the prostitutes who testified against him.9 On

November 21, 1839, Bennett wrote about the authorities' failure to find and punish

Jewett's murderer: "The blood of Ellen Jewett continually cries from the ground for

vengeance on her murderer, and though he has escaped by the force and influence of the

foulest corruption from the justice of the law, he is not beyond the justice of Heaven."10

Bennett's anonymous biographer explains that Bennett's reference to the justice of

Heaven alludes to a report that Robinson had been wounded in Texas, which is a

dramatic shift from Bennett's earlier assertion of Robinson's innocence. Each of his

reports through the years continues to speculate about the guilt and innocence of the

major players in the case. Upon hearing of the suicide of Robert Furlong, one of

Robinson's alibi witnesses, Bennett writes in 1838: "What ought those person's do, who

knew Robinson's guilt, and yet aided to defeat the laws during that trial? Ought they not




8 Andie Tucher, Froth and Scum: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and the Axe Murder in America's First Mass
Medium (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994).

9 The Life ofJames Gordon Bennett, Editor of the New York Herald (New York: NA, 1844).

10 The Life ofJames Gordon Bennett, 22.









injustice to go and hang themselves also?"11 Again, Bennett accuses Robinson of the

murder outright, neglecting to mention that he had declared the young man innocent and

supported his case in the pages of the Herald.

Bennett's reports on the murders of other women are in keeping with his reports on

the Jewett murder and further clarify that Bennett's reporting style changed not with time

but with the sex of the victim. According to Amy Gilman Srebnick, when reporting the

disappearance of Mary Rogers in 1841, Bennett also speculated about the particulars of

the crime and its victim. 12 More importantly, Bennett's description of the corpse

allowede] what was not permissible in life-the full physical exposure of the female

form. Presenting Rogers as a corpse, a female body no longer private, but instead totally

exposed, the necrophilic descriptions of Mary with lace petticoat strips around her neck

and blood leaking from her mouth, were pictorial, dramatic, and erotic." Again, Bennett

portrays the female corpse as an object of desire.

So why did Bennett fabricate the details of the deaths of Jewett and Rogers? In the

Adams case, John C. Colt confessed to the murder; there was little about which to

speculate. On the other hand, in the Jewett case, Robinson maintained his innocence and

was subsequently acquitted, and Mary Rogers' case had no perpetrator on whom to place

blame. Yet, the most important differences between these cases and that of Adams are

the gender of the victims and the relevance of sexual intercourse to the circumstances

surrounding their deaths. Bennett never described the corpse of Samuel Adams in terms

1 The Life ofJames Gordon Bennett, 22.

12 Bennett speculated that Rogers had been "violated by several rowdies, and ultimately strangled." Since
witnesses later revealed that Rogers had died during an abortion and that they had arranged the scene to
look like murder, Bennett's version of the crime is clearly fiction. Quoted in Amy Gilman Srebnick, The
Mysterious Death of Mary Rogers: Sex and Culture in Nineteenth-Century New York (New York: Oxford
UP, 1995), 28-29.









of how it aroused him sexually, whereas implicit lasciviousness characterizes his

descriptions of the corpses of Jewett and Rogers. The deaths of these women allowed

Bennett and his readers access to their bodies that they were not allowed in life.

The fact of their deaths makes them desirable because they are completely passive,

completely incapable of refusing these men access to their bodies. Equally important, the

sexual nature of the women's deaths removes the usual decorum and propriety that social

relations between men and women dictated. Helen Jewett was a prostitute murdered in a

brothel. Mary Rogers died in the middle of an abortion. Clearly, these women refused to

abide by societal dictates in life. They were sexually active, and at least one of them was

active in determining if and when she would become a mother. Their deaths rendered

them inactive. They became sleeping beauties whom men could view and desire freely.

When we look closely at news reports and illustrations of Jewett's murder in

conjunction with the tales of Basile, Perrault, and the Grimms, similarities in the

descriptions of the dead women and their surroundings become obvious. Close readings

of Basile's, Perrault's, and the Grimms' versions of "Sleeping Beauty," the Grimms'

"Snow White," and Basile's "The Young Slave" alongside descriptions of Helen Jewett's

body and the circumstances of her downfall and murder illustrate the striking correlations

among them. More importantly, close readings illustrate the ways in which each

nineteenth century reporter or author transforms fairy tale motifs so that the female

corpse becomes more indicative of the consolidation of the ideology of domesticity with

the cautionary tale in antebellum America.









That New Yorkers were interested in the Jewett case from the minute the word of

her murder spread is evident. James Gordon Bennett's account of his "visit to the scene"

describes the mob that stood outside Townsend's home and filled the parlor inside:

A large crowd of young men stood around the door, No. 41, and several
groups along the street in various directions. The excitement among the young
men throughout the city was beginning to spread in all directions ...
A Police officer opened it [the door], stealthily. I told him who I was. "Mr.
B. you can enter, "said he, with great politeness. The crowds rushed from behind
seeking also an entrance.
"No more comes in ," said the Police officer.
"Why do you let that man in?" asked one of the crowd.
"He is an editor-he is on public duty."
I entered-I pressed forward to the sitting room or parlor. There I found
another Police officer in charge of that apartment. The old lady of the house, Mrs.
Townsend, was sitting on a sofa, talking to several young men, in a great state of
excitement.13

That "a large crowd of young men," including a young George Thompson, stood in line

to look at Jewett's body is telling.14 One gets the impression that they lined up in the

same manner that people today line up for an amusement park ride. Just as people today

wait in line to get a kind of thrill from a roller coaster, men and boys in 1836 New York

anticipated the thrill of seeing what James Gordon Bennett later described as "a beautiful

female corpse."15 Many of them had likely been rebuffed by Helen when she was alive,

as she had a reputation of being "choosy" with her partners, but in her death, they had full

visual access to that which she had denied them in life.



13 James Gordon Bennett, "Visit to the Scene," The Herald. New York, April 12, 1836. Page 4. The
article was originally published in the April 11, 1836 edition, but a problem with the steam engine attached
to the press limited the number printed, and Bennett reprinted the article in this issue.

14 See George Thompson, My Life: Or the Adventures of Geo. Thompson. Being the Auto-Biography of an
Author. Written by Himself (Boston: Federhen & Co., 1854). Reprinted in Venus in Boston and Other
Tales of Nineteenth-Century Life. Ed. David S. Reynolds and Kimberly R. Gladman. (Amherst:
University of Massachusetts Press, 2002). 315-317.
15 Bennett, "Visit to the Scene," 4.









In this passage, Bennett attempts to distinguish himself from the throng of thrill

seekers by establishing that the police officer recognizes that he is there "on public duty"

unlike the others. Like the mob who lined up outside the brothel, Bennett's readers

experienced an excitement in reading his reports. Whereas Bennett markets his own

persona as more restrained and observant, he builds the readers' "excitement" by

providing them with the exciting access of the mob. When he enters the brothel, he must

"press forward" through the crowd to arrive at the parlor where Rosina Townsend

recounts the tragedy with much detail, bringing her male listeners to a "great state of

excitement." They are not appalled or saddened by Jewett's death, even though many

likely knew her or had at least seen her walking up Broadway in her infamous green

dress; rather, they become aroused by the details. Clearly, the men who lined up to view

Jewett's corpse and Bennett adhered to what Karen Halttunen refers to as "the Romantic

tendency" to see dead bodies as objects[] of beauty and desire." 16

Though the authorities allowed Bennett to view both the corpse and Jewett's room

at length, his description of the scene strays from the facts and relies on romance.

Jewett's murderer had struck her in the head with an axe three times and set her on fire.

The body had been autopsied. Yet Bennett describes what he saw upon entering Jewett's

room:

What a sight burst upon me! ... I looked around for the object of my
curiosity ...
"Here" said the Police officer, "here is the poor creature."
He half uncovered the ghastly corpse. I could scarcely look at it for a
second or two. Slowly I began to discover the lineaments of the corpse as one



16 Karen Halttunen, Murder Most Foul: The Killer and the American Gothic I,,,ii,,,l,. ',, (Cambridge,
MA: Harvard UP, 1998), 66.









would the beauties of a statue of marble. It was the most remarkable sight I ever
beheld. 17

Though he attempts to set himself up as an objective observer, the thrill Bennett gets

from viewing the body is evident from the beginning. The mere sight of Helen's room,

the scene of both her sexual escapades and her murder, elicits an exclamation-"What a

sight burst upon me!" Immediately, he terms Jewett as not "the body" or "the victim" but

"the object of [his] curiosity." Even the officer refers to her as a "creature." She is not a

person; she is simply an object on display.

Apparently forgetting the "ghastly" nature of the corpse he'd been unable to look at

for a moment, Bennett goes on to describe the object of his arousal:

How like a statue! I can scarcely conceive that form to be a corpse. Not a vein
was to be seen. The body looked as white-as full-as polished as the purest
Parian marble. The perfect figure-the exquisite limbs-the fine face-the full
arms-the beautiful bust-all-all surpassing in every respect the Venus de
Medici according to the casts generally given of her. [sic] ... I was lost in
admiration at this extraordinary sight-a beautiful female corpse that surpassed
the finest statue of antiquity."18

Despite the fact that one side of Jewett's body was charred, Bennett sexualizes her as "a

beautiful female corpse." Though he notes the "burnt pieces of linen, blankets, pillows,

black as cinders" in the beginning of his description, Bennett omits all evidence that she

was set on fire to depict her as "snow white." She is certainly like a statue in that neither

can move, but detailing her "perfect figure" and "beautiful bust" as "white as the purest

Parian marble" is more than just hyperbole.

The dashes betray Bennett's and his readers' desire for the dead woman's body.

Bennett creates a fantasy Venus with no visible imperfections and certainly no burns or


17 Bennett, "Visit to the Scene," 4.

18 Bennett, "Visit to the Scene," 4.









incisions. One can almost hear Bennett's heavy breathing: "as white-as full-as the

purest Parian marble .. the exquisite limbs-the fine fact-the full arms-the beautiful

bust." His excitement builds with each dash. At last, unable to contain himself, he

releases this build up as he declares himself lost in the "extraordinary sight" of"a

beautiful female corpse." Bennett, and therefore his readers, forget his original hesitance

to look at the "ghastly corpse." Indeed, as described in Bennett's account there is nothing

ghastly about her. Finally, Bennett returns to reality when he sees "the dreadful bloody

gashes on the right temple, which must have caused instantaneous dissolution."19

Strangely, for minutes, Bennett misses the one detail that would stand out to any

observer. He spends nearly a full column of newsprint describing the body before he

mentions the gashes that killed her. He is clearly more interested in cataloging the

beauties of "the object" in view than in the fact that she'd been murdered. Equally telling

is that Jewett had been mutilated not only by the murderer's axe, but also by the autopsy

knife. Yet, Bennett never mentions this last detail at all; it would have impeded him from

describing her "beautiful bust." Clearly, Jewett's body bore little resemblance to

Bennett's description.20

Bennett plays with and builds upon a set of descriptions that recur in fairy tales, a

set of descriptions that any reader would likely recognize as evoking Snow White and

Sleeping Beauty. Given the tales' popularity, it is probable that both Bennett and his

reading public were familiar with them.21 Where Bennett exclaims, "What a sight burst



19 Bennett, "Visit to the Scene," 4.
20 See Cohen, The Murder ofHelen Jewett, 17 and Anthony, 504.

21 In the September 1881 issue of Atlantic Monthly (48.287: 310-321), in "Koschei the Deathless; or, the
Diffusion of Fairy Tales," John Fiske discusses the immense popularity of the fairy tales (Straparola,









upon me, in their "Brier Rose," the Grimms' prince finds that the sleeping princess's

"beauty was so marvelous that he could not take his eyes off her."22 Similarly, in the

Grimms' "Snow White," the narrator affirms, "There came no breath out of her mouth,

and she was dead ... They would have buried her, but that she looked still as if she were

living, with her beautiful blooming cheeks."23 Similarly, Jewett's white, statue-like form

echoes the Grimms' description of their Snow White. Indeed, Bennett's picture of

Jewett's corpse allows his reader to forget that the object of his voyeurism is a corpse,

just as the princes in the fairy tales forget that the women upon whom they stumble are

dead.

"Beautiful female corpses" and sexuality figure prominently in the illustration found

alongside Bennett's first report. The illustration by Alfred M. Hoffy published in The

New York Herald shows Jewett's body with the sheet pulled far enough down to expose

her breasts, nipples erect (Figure 3-1). Her legs are exposed and bear no marks of the

body's actual condition. In fact, she looks as though she were sleeping peacefully. Not

only is Jewett's body free of any signs of brutal murder, fire, and autopsy, but her bed

and linens are also free of these signs. As in the illustrations of Sleeping Beauty

discussed in Chapter 2, a light shines in the room, illuminating only Jewett's body so that

the onlooker may see its details. David Anthony discusses this lithograph and its overt

Basile, Perrault, Grimm, and Arabian Nights) in the western world, specifically focusing on American
reception from the time of the first translations. The article argues that they were so popular that each new
translation led to demand for fairy tales from other authors and regions.

22Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, "Brier Rose," German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by Gammer
Grethel, trans. Edgar Taylor (London: H. G. Bohn, 1823), 30.

23 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, "Snow-White," German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by
Gammer Grethel trans. Edgar Taylor (London: H. G. Bohn, 1823). 155.










sexualization of the corpse: "Even more than in Bennett's written description, the viewer

is invited to indulge not only in the pleasure of gazing at Jewett's body but also of gaining

imaginary access to it."24 Like Bennett's sexualized description of the body, Hoffy's

illustration sexualizes the corpse and arouses the audience, stimulating desire and

fantasies of access to satisfy that desire.




... si. .


















Figure 3-1. "Ellen Jewett." Alfred M. Hoffy's rendering of Helen Jewett's corpse.25

Certainly, Patricia Cline Cohen's assertion that this particular crime created a

sensation because of the sheer novelty of murder and because the victim was an infamous

prostitute holds truth, but it does not account for the fact that people remained interested

in the affair for nearly a century and a half. To be sure, Robinson's acquittal fed into the

frenzy, creating further mystery. Yet, the fact that George Wilkes, editor of the National

Police Gazette, penned The Lives ofHelen Jewett and Richard P. Robinson in 1849-

24 Anthony, 507.

25 New York Historical Society.









thirteen years after Robinson's acquittal- alludes to something more at work in this

story. That Wilkes was a news editor lends authority to his text being a product of the

"news," a feat that later texts attempt to imitate.

Wilkes' novel was popular enough that after publishing it serially in the Gazette, he

published it as a complete volume. In 1878, parts of it were copied by an anonymous

"author" and published as The Truly Remarkable Life of the Beautiful Helen Jewett, Who

Was so Mysteriously Murdered. In 1932, Nearly one hundred years after the murder,

Manuel Komroff penned A New York Tempest, a novelization of the murder and trial, as

well as the events leading up to them. Even more striking is that in 1982, nearly one

hundred fifty years after Jewett was murdered, Raymond Paul wrote the historical novel

The Thomas Street Horror, narrated by a fledgling Sun reporter investigating Jewett's

murder and including multiple articles from Bennett's Herald, The Sun, and competing

papers. How did these reporters and authors convince their readers that Jewett was worth

their sympathies, that she was worthy of their lust, especially after so many years?

Each subsequent author builds upon the narrative created by Bennett; though

Komroff uses the murder and trial only as an inspiration for his novel, Wilkes and Paul

go so far as to incorporate the actual news reports from the Herald into their

novelizations. Thus, it is important to understand the ways in which Bennett made Jewett

an acceptable object of sympathy and lust. Perhaps to justify his desire for and

fascination with this woman of ill repute, Bennett seeks to create a sort of Cinderella out

of Jewett. Bennett's story of Jewett's childhood moves her class status upward toward

the backgrounds of many of the heroines in fairy tales. According to Bennett, Jewett's

real name was Dorcas Doyen. Her mother had passed away, and her father remarried.









He claims that she was taken in by a neighboring judge and his family, who pitied her

situation with her stepmother: "At that time Dorcas was young, beautiful, innocent,

modest, and ingenuous. Her good qualities and sprightly temper won the good feelings

of the Judge's family."26 This story ignores Jewett's lower class status, claiming her to

be a playmate and best friend of the judge's daughters when she was, in fact, one of their

servants. In presenting an "evil stepmother" and Jewett's "sprightly temper" in the face

of reduced circumstances, Bennett sets up her background to mirror that of Snow White

and Cinderella.

Surprisingly, authors writing after Bennett also sought to establish Jewett as a

middle to upper class girl. Wilkes writes of the Westons' interest in the young woman:

"Dorcas Doyen soon became a general favorite of the family which had adopted her, and

instead of being allowed to remain in a condition of servitude, she was promoted to the

more comfortable dependence of companionship."27 Her intellectual capabilities further

evinced her natural upper-class status: "Her quickness of apprehension and extraordinary

proficiency soon exceeded all calculation .. her conduct was precise and exemplary, and

... she merited by her demeanor and her studious habits, all the encomiums and kindly

feeling, which were extended to her by her teachers and her friends."28 This description

of Dorcas contrasts with an earlier description in the same novel that depicts her as a

seductive eleven-year-old (possibly an eight-year-old, as Wilkes's date would indicate)




26 Quoted in Cohen, The Murder ofHelen Jewett, 49.

27 George Wilkes, The Lives ofHelen Jewett and Richard P. Robinson, (New York: George Wilkes), 1849.
6.
28 Wilkes, 6.










who loses her virginity to a fifteen-year-old boy.29 Of course, attempts to blame her

"intemperate" father's influence help to salvage Dorcas in the reader's mind.30

Many fairy tales are about girls who have been stripped of their class position and

fallen into desperate circumstances. This plot is true of "Snow White," "The Young

Slave," and most famously "Cinderella." Snow White's "innocent heart" and "lovely"

disposition keep the huntsman from carrying out her stepmother's command that he

murder the girl and cut out her heart.31 The stepmother is not deterred, however. She

continues to seek the girl out and try to kill her with lace, a poisoned comb, and an apple.

Even though Snow White no longer lives as a princess and performs domestic chores for

the dwarfs, her class shows through in her beauty and charm. Lisa, the heroine of "The

Young Slave," is forced into slavery by her wicked aunt, the queen. The king realizes

that Lisa is his niece once he converses with her because her manner of speaking reveals

her royal background, though she is disguised in the rags of a slave. Cinderella's upper-

class status also shines even though her envious stepmother and stepsisters force her to

wear rags and serve them.32

Corresponding even further to fairy tales, James Gordon Bennett's attempt to place

the blame for Jewett's murder on another woman in the brothel parallels "Sleeping

Beauty," "Brier Rose," "Sun, Moon, and Talia," "Snow White," and "The Cat


29 The first page of the novel says that Dorcas was born in 1813. After a passage of two years from the
time of Dorcas' losing her virginity, she is said to be thirteen, but the date Wilkes provides, 1823, makes
her only ten. If the date is correct, then Dorcas was but eight years old when she had her first sexual
encounter.

30 Wilkes, 6.

31 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, "Snow White," 100.

32 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, "Cinderella," German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by Gammer
Grethel trans. Edgar Taylor (London: H. G. Bohn, 1823).









Cinderella." In both Perrault's "Sleeping Beauty" and Grimms' "Brier Rose," an old

fairy curses the infant princess because she is jealous of the favor shown to the other

fairies and feels slighted at not being invited to the child's christening. An old lady is

also the one who presents the princess with the opportunity for pricking her finger. In

Basile's "Sun, Moon, and Talia," the hero's wife discovers her husband's infidelity and

in a jealous rage attempts to feed his children to him and to burn Talia alive. In "Snow

White," the princess's stepmother repeatedly attempts to kill Snow White because the

older woman is jealous of the girl's beauty. Basile's "The Cat Cinderella" further

reinforces that women are jealous and conniving. When Zezolla, the heroine of the story,

complains to her governess about the evil treatment she receives at the hands of her

stepmother, the governess encourages Zezolla to murder the stepmother. Soon after the

murder, the governess convinces Zezolla's father to marry her and begins to mistreat

Zezolla in favor of her own children. The governess tempts Zezolla to commit murder

and tricks the girl into believing that she has Zezolla's best interest at heart.

Like the fairy tale narrators, Bennett invents a female villain. Discussing possible

suspects and motives for Jewett's murder, he claims, "It cannot be possible that [Richard

P.] Robinson was the person! How could a young man perpetrate so brutal an act? Is it

not more like the work of a woman? Are not the whole train of circumstances within the

ingenuity of a female, abandoned and desperate?"33 Bennett suggests that Jewett had

money and costly jewelry of which her coworkers were likely jealous. Just as the beauty

of the princesses in fairy tales evoked desperation in the hearts of other women, Bennett

argues that Jewett's beauty and fortune spurred another woman to "desperate" measures.


33 Quoted in Cohen, The Murder ofHelen Jewett, 18.









Like Snow White's stepmother, who feared that her beauty had "abandoned" her, another

woman may have been so jealous of Jewett that she killed the girl.

George Wilkes' novel takes the villainess ploy a step further, bringing in numerous

"evil" women who sabotage any chance that Helen has at making an honest life for

herself. First, there is Nancy, a "negress" and former servant in the home of the

paramour of Dorcas' youth, who for a bit of money offers up her home first for the

clandestine meetings of Dorcas and the young Sumner, and later encourages Dorcas's

rendezvous with other suitors by pretending to be interested only in Dorcas's well being.

Dorcas repays Nancy's kindness with small gifts of money when she can, and truly

believes that the old woman is her friend.34

Yet, when Dorcas is expelled from the home in which she had been "adopted," she

goes to Nancy's cottage for solace, but Nancy rebukes her: "It amused [me], it did, to see

some people put on airs; people, too, who was no better than any other people, and who,

if the truth came to the truth was only servants at last!"35 Nancy's true feelings toward

Dorcas become clearer still:

She was astonished, she was, to say the least, that a person who had seduced and
ruined an innocent young man, and sent him off to sea, should talk about being
ruined herself! For her part, she was sick of such characters, and she had made up
her mind to have nothing more to do with them. They had made her sinful
enough already, and if she harbored or countenanced 'em any longer, she would
expect some judgment of the Lord to fall upon her.36

Poor Dorcas is so taken aback and outraged that she verbally attacks Nancy and leaves

the cottage with no notion of where to go next. Her ruin comes at the hands of one who


34 Wilkes, 7-12.

35 Wilkes, 12.

36 Wilkes, 12-13.









was interested only in self gain and putting Dorcas in her rightful place. Wilkes'

portrayal of Nancy adheres to the fairy tales, which place the blame for young women's

troubles squarely on the shoulders of their mother figures. Since Dorcas had no mother

figure, Nancy fills that void, but she uses her power and influence to coerce Dorcas into a

life of degradation. When Dorcas's degradation becomes public, Nancy turns her back

on the young girl, literally turning her out to the woods like Snow White.

Dorcas never learns wariness in her dealings with women attempting to fill the

mother role in her life, and the "wicked stepmother" reappears multiple times. In her first

foray into city life, Dorcas ventures to Portland and begins to look for work as a

seamstress. When she encounters a kind woman, Mrs. Burras, who offers to give her

work as a personal seamstress for her and her "nieces" complete with salary and room

and board, Dorcas jumps at the offer. Upon arrival at Mrs. Burras's home, Dorcas

quickly realizes that she's trapped inside a brothel and is tricked into prostitution again by

the other young women's implications that her first love Sumner is a regular customer.

They revel in her downfall because they are jealous of her beauty37 This is not the last

time that Helen will be tricked by a woman who professes to have her best interest at

heart. Like Snow White, Wilkes' Helen Jewett encounters many such women without

ever learning to discern their real intentions.

Even after years as a prostitute, Helen's naivety about the women she chooses as

mother figures continues, contradicting her otherwise worldly nature. In the next city

into which Jewett enters, Boston, she passes out on the street at the sight of one of her

former lovers. She is "rescued" by an African American family who practically holds her


37 Wilkes, 13-18.









hostage while they sell off her personal property. When the authorities rescue her from

her "rescuers," one of the men takes her to live with his family. There, as Maria Benson,

she begins a new life, complete with fiance and the prospect of respectability. Later, the

local brothel owner, Mrs. Bryant, discovers Helen's true identity. She offers to "help"

Helen if the latter's background should ever be discovered and if the family who has so

lovingly taken her in should cast her out as a result. Helen sees this not for what it is-a

threat-but as an honest offer of shelter in dire circumstances.

Soon after Mrs. Bryant offers to help Helen, an anonymous letter to the kind family

reveals that Helen had been both a prostitute and a mistress. Immediately, the family

casts her from their doors, and Helen goes straight to Mrs. Bryant with no thought that

her confidant might be the anonymous person who tipped off the family.38 Repeatedly,

Helen, like Snow White before her, naively falls victim to the same betrayer. Mrs.

Bryant later sabotages Helen's attempts to make a match with an impressionable youth

who cares nothing about her past. Again, even though Mrs. Bryant has hinted that

someone might tell the boy's father about Helen, the young woman never imagines that

her "friend" would sabotage her hopes.39

Mrs. Bryant, like Nancy, fills a motherly role in the young woman's life, a role that

had been unfilled since her own mother's death when she was only nine years old. Just

as a young Snow White seeks female companionship in the old hag who visits the

dwarves' home and turns out to be her stepmother, Helen seeks a mother-daughter

relationship with older women because of a sense of abandonment by her mother's death.


38 Wilkes, 27-30.

39 Wilkes, 30-33.









Nancy, Mrs. Burras, and Mrs. Bryant are motherly figures, comforting Helen at the most

crucial times and giving her motherly advice just when she needs it most. Unfortunately,

Helen seeks a mother figure in the wrong women. None of these women has her best

interest at heart. Two are jealous of her-Nancy that Helen has risen above her caste and

Mrs. Bryant that Helen's beauty and grace allow her to pass as a member of the upper

classes. Mrs. Burras, like Nancy, sees only monetary profit for herself in her relationship

with Helen, not caring that she is "ruining" a young woman forever. Like her mother

before them, Helen's "mother figures" abandon her emotionally and sometimes

physically, leaving her to fend for herself in a society that cares little about what becomes

of immoral women.

In Wilkes' version, Jewett's story clearly diverges from that of the fairy tales in that

her downfall is overtly sexual. Rather than eating an apple that symbolizes "forbidden

fruit" as did Snow White, Jewett becomes sexually active. More importantly, after being

tricked three times by a "wicked witch" in disguise, Helen comes to understand and use

her sexuality as power. She refused to

shrink from publicity, she wore always one description of rich green silk
dress, and carried a letter in her hand, that her appearance might be indicated
without mistake by those who had seen her to those who had not, but who might
so desire ...
In this manner did she make profit out of her pastime, and pastime out of
her talents, while her companions were lolling upon sofas or stuffing themselves
with cake or confectionary through live-long hours of continual eating.40

She walks up the promenade alone, dressed to garner attention. She is a self-sufficient

business woman, and her entire life is centered on attracting more business for herself.


40 Wilkes, 54.









Rather than lazily lying about filling up on confections and hiding in the brothels, waiting

for men to come to her, she makes herself known so as to increase her "sales."

Helen's independence and self-promotion conflicts with the tenets advanced by

the Cult of True Womanhood, and her behavior and attitude so contradict the dominant

beliefs of the age that it stuns her when people look down upon her. Helen's confidence

and strength is so powerful that she does not hesitate to have one of her johns arrested

when, in ajealous rage, he commenced "cutting her most costly dresses into shreds ...

He likewise had strangled her canary bird .. and had wound up his exploit, by writing a

ribald couplet in her album, that was intended as an insult to her person."41 Confident in

herself and her station, Helen is shocked when the magistrate throws out the complaint

once the gentleman promises to pay the value of the property he'd destroyed. She's even

more taken aback when she only receives half of the award because of "the immense

trouble [the officer] had incurred in hunting the Captain up, and the superior sum he had

refused from that gentleman, as a bribe to let him leave the city."42 Though one could

read her reaction as naivety on Helen's part, previous scenes in the novel demonstrate

that she would have been intimately familiar with the corruption in local government.

Upon entering Mrs. Burras's establishment, she had received a visit from a

magistrate who had been sent to "save her" from the clutches of the prostitutes in the

house, but instead of performing his official duty, he partook of Helen's wares as a bribe

by Mrs. Burras.43 Later, upon her earliest arrival in New York, she was let out of jail



41 Wilkes, 51.

42 Wilkes, 52.

43 Wilkes, 17-18.









because the magistrate takes liberties with her.44 Since Helen is already well acquainted

with the corruption of law enforcement, she would have no reason to expect fair

treatment from them. In fact, she does not expect fair treatment; she expects that because

of her position as a "high class" prostitute and because of her first-hand knowledge of

police corruption, she'll have the upper-hand. That her status as a prostitute works

against her, making the magistrate view her complaint as frivolous, offends her. When

the officer steals her money, she has no choice but to recognize that her degradation has

indeed placed her in a class to which she feels superior.

Wilkes' narrator constantly establishes Helen's superiority over the other

prostitutes with whom she comes into contact. Unlike the behavior of her peers, "there

was, however, nothing gaudy or vulgar in her manner. She was always lady-like and

elegant, and though her carriage was self-assured and free, it was devoid of flashy

ostentation or pert parade."45 Moreover, when Richard Robinson first encounters Helen,

he is taken with her because "her attire evinced a cultivated taste," and her appearance

demonstrates that she possesses a "cultivated intellect" and is "well-bred."46 Just as

Cinderella's rags cannot hide her natural grace and poise, Jewett's occupation does not

interfere with her natural elegance and intellect. That Jewett's appearance belied her

occupation and actual status makes her most appealing. Had she been "gaudy or vulgar"

or dressed less fashionably and more flashily, there would have been no intrigue. Wilkes





44 Wilkes, 36-37.

45 Wilkes, 54.

46 Wilkes, 63.









has either forgotten Jewett's green dress or views it as part of what marks her as above

other prostitutes.

Perhaps, in Wilkes' narrative, that Jewett seemed a walking contradiction was part

of the attraction. As it was, her paramours, especially Robinson, could maintain the

fantasy of the virgin while having sex with the Magdalene.47 This fascination of the

contradictory nature of one woman also fed the frenzy surrounding her murder and the

subsequent trial for years after. While Bennett, Wilkes, and others certainly fabricated

the details of Helen's life, they captured her appeal perfectly.48

Jewett's charm and the combination of the virgin and the whore in one figure were

not the only aspects of the case that elicited attention. The coverage of the murder and

subsequent trial diverge from the fairy tale motifs in that the male protagonist of the story

holds a contradictory appeal for readers. He is not the nameless rescuer of the princess

about whom the reader knows little or nothing. Robinson intrigued readers because of

the seeming contradictions in his outward appearance and his inner self. Though he had

practically pronounced Robinson guilty but two days earlier, on Wednesday, April 13,

1836, and would later denounce the justice system that acquitted him, Bennett questions:

"Is it possible for a youth, hitherto unimpeached and umimpeachable in his character, to

have engendered and perpetrated so diabolical an act as the death of Ellen Jewett was? Is

47 It is important to note that throughout Wilkes' and Bennett's narratives, the reader is reminded that
Jewett is not a virgin (even though both take great pains to establish her as "worthy") by referring to her as
"the Magdalene."

48 Judge Weston, the head of the family who took Dorcas in as a servant when she was a child, was so
outraged by the false accounts of her being like a sister to his children and like a daughter to his wife and
himself, that he wrote a letter to the major newspapers to set the record straight. Still, proof exists of
Helen's dual personality. See Cohen The Murder ofHelen Jewett; Ann Royall, The Black Book; or, a
Continuation of Travels in the United States (Washington, D.C.: NA, 1828) and testimony from the trial
collected from and based on transcripts in various New York newspapers and published in The Trial of
Richard P. Robinson, Before the Court of Oyer and Terminer on the 2nd of June, 1836, for the Murder of
Ellen Jewett, on the s.;it of the 9th ofApril, 1836 (New York: George Wilkes, 1849).









it the character of crime to jump at once from the heights of virtue to the depths of

vice?"49 Bennett quickly establishes Robinson as a virtuous young man, a noble prince

who has been caught up in a situation beyond his control, who has been framed for a

crime he couldn't have committed. His dealings with a prostitute contradicted everything

Bennett's readers knew about Robinson. Thus, describing Robinson as simply led astray

by the attractions and temptations of the city worked to Bennett's advantage. Indeed, the

figure of Robinson must have struck at the very core of readers; their brothers and sons

were similarly situated.

Wilkes seems to recognize the appeal of Robinson's contradictory character too.

Wilkes' novel introduces Robinson about half way through, after the reader has already

formed an attachment to Jewett. The narrator's first mention of Robinson plays upon the

reputation described in Bennett:

He was of the middle size, rather below it if anything, and there was to his gait
and general carriage, a litheness and an elasticity which indicated extreme youth.
he was manifestly genteel ... he was a very handsome youth, of not more than
eighteen years of age, [with] damask cheek expansive blue eye, handsome mouth,
and hair of golden brown, which curled about his temples.50

This description forces an impression of innocence-the "extreme youth," the blonde

hair, the blue eyes, all of his features conjure images of a handsome prince, not of a

licentious murderer.

The narrator of Wilkes' novel begins to contradict this first impression with a tale

of Robinson's seduction of an innocent orphan girl who lives with relatives. At the same




49 Quoted in The Life and ; i,,,i ofJames Gordon Bennett, Editor of the New York Herald. New York:
NA, 1844. 17.
50 Wilkes, 57.









time, the tale immediately questions whether Robinson and other young men like him are

actually responsible for their actions:

What else could be expected of him? What else could be expected of the majority
of youths similarly situated, and who, like him, are brought from the quiet routine
of country life, to be plunged into the midst of all the intoxicating pleasures and
dazzling temptations of this great Vanity Fair? Having the appearance of a
gentleman; being evidently taken for a gentleman; knowing what a gentleman
should be, he of course, resolves to behave as much like a gentleman as possible;
and liberality being necessary to the assumed character, he is tempted to sustain it,
by slight loans from the till, which being repeated, settle into methodized
peculation.1

The narrator excuses Robinson's conduct by blaming the temptations of the city. It's not

his fault that the temptations are there; it's not his fault that he must steal to preserve his

appearance. In fact, the narrator doesn't refer to Robinson's actions as stealing; he takes

"slight loans from the till." Presenting these thefts as loans instead of small robberies

again excuses Robinson from any real wrong-doing.

Time after time, Wilkes defends Robinson's character from his own actions.

When he sees Helen at the theatre, he does nothing to stop the two ruffians who accost

her: "Though not deficient in courage, he was not created for a knight-errant ... Had he

interfered, he might have been very well beaten without contributing any aid or comfort

to his unknown flame."52 Here the narrator leads his reader to believe that Robinson's

creator is at fault for his not being a "knight-errant." More importantly, the rational

explanation that he may have been so badly beaten as to be useless in offering aid is so

reasonable as to again remove the spot from his character. Whereas Perrault includes a

moral at the end of his "Blue Beard" to make it clear to his readers that the blame in the


51 Wilkes, 60.

52 Wilkes, 65.









story lies with the woman and not with her murderous husband, Wilkes creates a

conflicted male figure, who is, like his female counterpart, neither wholly good nor

wholly evil, and uses that conflict to its full advantage.

After establishing the tensions within Robinson's character, the narrator takes the

reader a few steps further into the young man's sensibility. When the narrator describes

Robinson's journal entries cursing his employer, who has made Robinson a veritable

member of his family, the reader sees into his true character.53 Much later, the novel

depicts Robinson's treatment of the young woman whom he had seduced when he first

arrived in New York. Not only does he repeatedly coax her from her family, he also

attempts many times to set her up in a brothel. Finally, once she has finally understood

that his intent is to leave her for good rather than to marry such a degraded creature, she

takes ill. Robinson visits the home of her nurse, and he dropped something into the

medicinal brew that had been prepared for the ill woman. We later discover through

Helen that what he dropped in was "Arsenic!"54 Robinson's actions toward Emma

anticipate his relationship with and subsequent murder of Helen Jewett. Here, Wilkes

diverges from the fairy tales' and Bennett's motif of blaming women for the harm done

to other women. While he is clear that women are to blame for Helen's downfall, Wilkes

does not shy from depicting the wrongs done to women at the hands of Robinson, in spite

of the earlier rationalization of his thievery and lack of chivalry.



53 The narrator describes Robinson's journal: "This was the record of course thoughts ... but what showed
in the most striking light his demoniac disposition was an entry which he mad on salary day, in relation to
his income. After remarking at some length, on the insufficiency of this sum for his expensive course of
life, he bestowed upon his employer... all the vulgar appellations within the range of confumelious
epithet, ending with the malediction-"Cursed be he, twice, and all his family, forever!" Wilkes, 67.

54 Wilkes, 59-62; 80-84; 96-97; 101-105.









Robinson's diabolical personality emerges toward the end of Wilkes' novel.

When Helen is out of town, Robinson cavorts with various women about town. A

confrontation between Robinson and one of Helen's friends ensues when she makes him

aware that she knows of his infidelity:

"Why you don't think that I've forgotten Hester Preston and Elizabeth
Salters, do you?"
"Mere harmless visits, I assure you ..."
"Well, if they were harmless visits ... what will you tell me of the young
lady at Mrs. Stewart's .. ."
Robinson paused a minute and then made an earnest request that his fair
informer would not spread the circumstance any further ....
[she told him] that he would have no right to complain if she (Helen) had
revenge upon him, by exposing his licentious and extravagant habits to his
employer ....
"Why, I would blow her brains out!" slowly and resolutely, through his
teeth.55

Robinson's demeanor and threat foreshadow Jewett's murder. His threats come as no

real surprise. Though found not guilty at trial, by the time ofWilkes' novel, Robinson

was presumed guilty by many, including James Gordon Bennett, both in and out of the

city.

Surprisingly, Wilkes' novel depicts a scene where but a few short weeks prior to

murdering her, Robinson stops Helen from killing herself. Though Robinson's rescue of

Helen seems like the heroic act of a lover, the narrator makes it clear that Robinson is

anything but heroic, describing it as a "performance." 56 The narrator details the effect on

Robinson:

He had been disturbed for the moment, but the prospect of Helen's death brought
with it no real alarm, for it had long been the subject of his thoughts. When,
therefore, she was declared convalescent, he felt as if his fortunes had miscarried


55 Wilkes, 99.

56 Wilkes, 111.









and his brain, almost without intention, was driven to conjecture how the
miscarriage might be remedied.57

Robinson cares nothing for Helen. He performs the role of the dutiful lover, but his

thoughts have long entertained her demise. He feels no sadness that he's the source of

her unhappiness that caused her suicide attempt. He only regrets that he saved her,

revealing that he deserves none of the sentiment expressed by other authors and by the

jury in his trial.

When Wilkes addresses the murder and Robinson's trial, he provides none of the

speculation that has filled the pages of his novelization. Instead, he paraphrases the

reports of James Gordon Bennett, including Bennett's articles in his footnotes. In fact the

amount of text that Wilkes uses from Bennett is so large that the difference between

footnote and novel becomes difficult, if not impossible to discern.58 This confusion of

fiction with Bennett's reality allows Wilkes to imply that his story is not a novel, but a

real account of the lives of these young people. The mere inclusion of Bennett's

reporting confuses the line between novelization and news, as Bennett changes opinions

about the crime with each article he writes. By incorporating the reports into the novel in

a manner that renders them almost indistinguishable from one another, Wilkes establishes

his novel as the definitive history of Helen Jewett and Richard Robinson.

Indeed, Wilkes constructs the entire novel as though it is a factual representation of

facts rather than a fictional account of the lives of Jewett and Robinson. In addition to

presenting its author as the editor of the National Police Gazette to give the novel the

appearance of "news," the story has many footnotes that work to establish the events in


5 Wilkes, 111.

58 See Wilkes, 120-130.









the story as fact. On the fourth page of the text, Wilkes includes the following note about

how young Dorcas lost her virginity:

This story of the lover is not, as some will be ready to suspect, the production of
the imagination of the writer. It is related in a series of epistles which Dorcas
Doyen, when shame made her heiress of another name, directed in a friend. Their
original draft, or copies, were found transcribed in a large scrap-book taken from
the trunk at the time of her murder. In the reproduction of this portion of its
contents, nothing is altered but the style. The letters were probably written during
her career in Boston, as they are signed "Helen Mar." They are, without doubt,
accurate records, as far as they go, of her earliest attachment.59

Though Wilkes claims that the letters are locked in his newspaper office, no other source

corroborates even the existence of these letters. Still, Wilkes uses this footnote and many

others throughout the text to establish his story as fact rather than fiction. Some of his

notes even provide "citations," though those works he cites cannot be found. It is

possible that given the more than 150 years separating Wilkes's period from our own,

these works no longer exist. However, extensive archival research has found no sources

that even remotely resemble those he references, making it likely that the author

fabricated them all.

Another device that Wilkes uses to establish the truthfulness of his tale is the

inclusion of Helen's letters to various paramours and their letters to her. Again, that

these letters exist anywhere but in the mind of the author cannot be corroborated, yet

because Wilkes claimed to have them in his possession, their placement in the text

establishes the events therein as "fact."

Wilkes also builds on Bennett's reporting, by using Bennett's articles to build his

novel. Yet Bennett was not the only influence at work. The immense popularity of fairy

tales in America at this time spoke to the public's desire for literature that encouraged

59 Wilkes, 8.









domesticity, passivity, domesticity, and submission in women and gave the public access

to women's bodies. Bennett realized that the public's desire was a conflicted one. True,

they wanted their wives and daughters to remain chaste outside of marriage and passive

in all matters outside the realm of the home. Yet the access that fairy tales granted to

women's bodies did not satisfy a competing, voyeuristic desire for knowledge of women

who refuse to adhere to such stifling roles as the Cult of True Womanhood demanded of

women. Unlike the fairy tale princesses before her, Helen Jewett was a woman of the

world, a prostitute, which granted the public full access to her sexual exploits and body

without the guilt that would have been associated with a chaste woman.

Bennett uses the fairy tales to create an acceptable object of desire for his readers.

He describes her in terms of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White as well as Cinderella, to

make her a sympathetic victim. Too, he uses her position as a prostitute to provide his

readers with access to an intensely erotic subject. Bennett walked a narrow line in his

conflicted depiction of Helen Jewett, but so did her other biographers. Wilkes'

novelization of Jewett's life takes the fairy tale Cinderella and imbues her with a natural,

animalistic sexuality. In Wilkes' novel, at eleven (or eight), Helen's sexual nature has

been awakened, and because of a few evil stepmother figures, she is unable to tame it.

Helen's Snow-White-like naivety furthers the image created in making her a Cinderella,

making the reader sympathize with her even as she turns her back on propriety.

Bennett and Wilkes also create a conflicted Richard P. Robinson. Bennett's

changing position on the guilt and innocence of Robinson, while motivated by monetary

gain, mirrors the public's wavering about the young man's culpability. Similarly, Wilkes

creates a Robinson who is both innocent and evil. He is not to blame because his creator









did not instill a character of strength and fortitude, according to Wilkes' novel, but he

undeniably commits robbery and murder. In other words, Robinson is a Prince Charming

who happens upon the good fortune of meeting the princess, and a Blue Beard who

murders all of his wives. The novel tells its reader that yes, Robinson likely murdered

Helen Jewett, but no, it wasn't entirely his fault. In the end, Helen's death is both

punishment for and recognition of her licentious nature. A young woman who paraded

about town in an infamous green dress and always carried a letter to attract attention and

elicit remembrances from passersby, Helen likely would have enjoyed the attention that

her dead body held for the public. The lover of romance and fiction in her would have

been proud that she helped to inspire a new genre that continued to feature versions of the

beautiful young prostitute years after her murder.















CHAPTER 4
NECROPHILIA AND INCEST IN POE: THE REVENGE OF THE DEAD-UNDEAD
WOMAN

The odd syndrome of child-love, necrophilia, and incest in Poe is too personal and
pathological to shed much light on the general meaning of the latter theme in American
literature and life. It is not without interest, however, to reflect that the tales of Poe have
come to be thought of as a children's classic."

-Leslie Fiedler, Love and Death in the American Novel1

As demonstrated in the Chapter 2, nineteenth century American translations of

fairy tales-also considered "children's classics"-combined "child-love, necrophilia,

and incest," achieving immense popularity and remaining staples of American childhood

for nearly two centuries. Edgar Allan Poe, too, combines these elements, and as Leslie

Fiedler points out, his stories and poetry are deemed perfectly suitable for children. This

chapter contends that, contrary to Fiedler's assertion, the "odd syndrome" at play in

Edgar Allan Poe's fiction does indeed shed light on its "general meaning" in American

culture.

I will begin by establishing Poe's familiarity with fairy tales and the striking

similarities among his tales, James Gordon Bennett's descriptions of Helen Jewett's

corpse, and the fairy tales ofBasile, Perrault, and the Grimms. Then I will examine the

ways in which Poe's tales diverge from the fairy tales, creating horror alongside

necrophilic desire. In his tales, Poe twists the familiar formula of the fairy tales into

something new. His sleeping beauties such as Lady Madeline Usher and Ligeia return



1 Leslie Fiedler, Love and Death in the American Novel (New York: Criterion Books, 1960).









from the grave, abjecting their male counterparts. In "The Fall of the House of Usher"

and other tales, such as "Morella," Poe incorporates incest to both titillate and repulse his

readers, whereas in yet other stories and his poems, he uses a strange combination of

necrophilia and child-love. Whereas the sentimental novels of the period identify with

and appropriate the victim's suffering,2 Poe's tales twist that by having the victim

appropriate the master by putting him in an abject position. Twisting fairy tales and the

sentimental, Poe uses the Gothic to both appropriate those genres and undermine them.

Poe worked to increase his readership. As such, he was forced to cater to "the

mob" that he detested. Terence Whalen explains, "Poe discovered that the mass audience

could not read pure novelty. Dependent on the common knowledge of the masses, yet

driven by the onward rush of information, writers attempted to construct new effects out

of old materials."3 Accordingly, Poe gave the mass audience what it wanted-an "odd

syndrome" of "child-love, necrophilia, and incest." Though these elements exist in the

earliest versions of fairy tales and continue to play subtle role in even our current

versions, Poe takes this combination to more extreme limits and in a culture very

different from those that were first introduced to fairy tales.

In the nineteenth century, children were first recognized as a category of person

separate from adults. When the Grimms first published their fairy tales, the stories were

full of incest, as in "The Maiden without Hands," and sexualized portrayals of young


2 Paula Bennett, Poets in the Public Sphere: The Emancipatory Project ofAmerican Women's Poetry,
1800-1900 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), 54-56.

3 Whalen continues, "For the mass audience, in other words, the use-value of reading consists not in
intimations of unreachable bliss but in appeals to common fancies and desires. This means that the
writer-especially the writer of genius-should occupy a middle ground between absolute novelty and
common knowledge." Terence Whalen, Edgar Allan Poe and the Masses: the Political Economy of
Literature in Antebellum America, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 46, 101.









girls, as in "Snow White." In subsequent editions, the Grimms toned down their tales to

be more suitable for children, a concern they did not have in 1812.4 Poe's time was only

a few years removed from a time when children were seen as little adults and their

sexuality seen as a given. He plays with contemporary taboos of incest and child-love,

knowing that his audience's reaction will mingle dread with desire. Too, Poe plays with

the emerging categories of child/adult, subject/object, and living/dead, and his tales play

with the ways in which crossing these boundaries threatens patriarchal control.

There is a direct relationship between Poe's works and the fairy tales. As early as

1823, Sir Walter Scott wrote to Taylor of the public's interest in the Grimms' tales:

"There is also a sort of wild fairy interest in them." This "wild" interest was not confined

to the Kinder- undHausmarchen. A few sentences later, Scott tells Taylor that he and his

friends have editions of tales from other countries, including Perrault.5 Like Sir Walter

Scott and his friends, Poe knew the fairy tales well. In his Arabian Nights: a

Companion, Robert Irwin discusses the influence that The Thousand and One Nights had

on Western authors, mentioning Poe's satire "The Thousand-and-Second Tale of

Scheherazade" as evidence.6 Poe was familiar not only with the versions of fairy tales in

Arabian Nights, but also with the popular fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, Charles

Perrault, and Giambattista Basile. In August 1836, writing "Pinakidia" for the SN,,ithe ii

Literary Messenger, Poe explains a comparison of a particular work to "The slipper of

Cinderella": "Cinderella is a tale of universal currency. An ancient Danish ballad has

4 See Fairy Tales and Society: Illusion, Allusion, and Paradigm, ed. Ruth B. Bottigheimer (Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986). See also The Reception of Grimms' Fairy Tales: Responses.
Reactions. Revisions, ed. Donald Haase (Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1993).

5 Quoted in Ruth Michaelis-Jena, The Brothers Grimm (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970), 173-175.

6 Robert Irwin, "Children of the Nights," Arabian winI' a Companion (New York: Penguin, 1996).









some of the incidents. It is popular among the Welch-also among the Poles-in Hesse

and Sweden ... It is in the Italian Pentamerone under the title of Cenerentola."7

Poe's awareness of Basile's II Pentamerone signals that he was likely familiar with

the more accessible tales of the Grimms and Perrault. He knew enough about George

Cruickshank, the artist who illustrated Taylor's translation of the Kinder und

Hausmarchen, to comment about his artistic contribution to Henry Cockton's Stanley

Thorn. Speaking about Cruickshank and a fellow contributor named Leech, Poe claims,

"It is observable that those of the latter [Leech] are more effective in every respect than

those of the former and far more celebrated artist."8 Cruickshank's illustrations for the

English translation of the Grimms' tales were included in a collection of his work in

1827; thus, it is unlikely that Poe could be aware of this "celebrated artist" and not his

fairy tale artwork.

Poe's awareness of and familiarity with fairy tales become apparent in his short

stories. Several, especially those featuring a dead or supposedly dead woman and her

surroundings, bear remarkable likenesses to Grimms', Perrault's, and even Basile's

versions of the "Sleeping Beauty" story, as well as to the Grimms' "Snow White" and

"The Glass Coffin."9 Poe's reviewers and critics noted this similarity as early as 1885







SEdgar Allan Poe, "Pinakidia," Southern Literary Messenger (August 1836), 577-578.

8 Edgar Allan Poe, Review of Stanley Thorn, Graham 's Magazine (January 1842), xx.

9 Poe's poetry demonstrates these same characteristics. See especially the fairy-tale-like beginning of
"Annabel Lee" and the obvious necrophilia in this poem. See also "The Raven" in which the speaker
laments his lost love Lenore and Poe's "Lenore" in which the speaker speaks of the "life upon her yellow
hair."










when one critic refers to Poe's works as "his fairy tales."10 Even earlier, an 1836 review

for the Richmond Compiler questions, "Why will he [Poe] not disenthrall himself from

the spells of German enchantment and supernatural imagery?""

Although this earlier review of Poe could be read as relating Poe to the German

Romantics or even Gothics, its references to "spells," "enchantment," and "supernatural

imagery" more closely resemble the German fairy tales collected by the Grimms.

Though Poe does not directly address fairy tales as an influence, he mentions them

numerous times in reviews, referencing "Sleeping Beauty" in a review of Hawthorne's

Twice-Told Tales and referring to Christopher Pease Cranch's style as "Cinderella

Fancy."12 More importantly, Poe's reviewers refer to his stories as "fairy tales," an

aspect that needs further exploration. Poe recognized an opportunity to increase

readership by incorporating elements of popular fairy tales into his own works. Perhaps

he took advantage of the "particular demand" for fairy tales, supplying the public's

"unstable and perhaps unfathomable tastes" by incorporating the more macabre elements

of the tales such as female corpses and necrophilia and twisting them into terror.13






10 Quoted in Lubov Breit Keefer, "Poe in Russia," Poe in Foreign Lands and Tongues, ed. Jeanne Rosselet,
Lubov Keefer, Herbert Schaumann and Pedro Salinas (Baltimore: The Edgar Allan Poe Society, 1941):
17.

1 Richmond Compiler, (February 1836), "Bits and Pieces-II," E. A. Poe Society of Baltimmore. 23 May
2003.

1Edgar Allan Poe, "Tale-Writing-Nathaniel Hawthorne," Godey's Lady's Book (November 1847), 252-
256. and Edgar Allan Poe, "The Literati-Part III," The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe, vol. III
(1850): 70.

13 As Terence Whalen argues, "Since he could not support himself by writing poetry, he had to adapt his
talents to the unstable and perhaps unfathomable tastes of a distant mass audience. Some of his most
extravagant tales were, by his own admission, composed 'to supply a particular demand."' Whalen, 7.









"The Oblong Box" shares obvious themes in common with both "Snow-White" and

"The Glass Coffin." In Poe's story, the narrator tells of hearing the main character after

his "wife" had left the room each night. He recounts:

I fancied I could distinguish the precise moment when he fairly disengaged the
lid-also, that I could determine when he removed it altogether, and when he
deposited it upon the lower berth in his room After this there was a dead
stillness, and I heard nothing more, upon either occasion, until nearly daybreak;
unless, perhaps, I may mention a low sobbing, or murmuring sound ... I say it
seemed to resemble sobbing or sighing ... He had opened his oblong box, in
order to feast his eyes on the pictorial treasure within ... Just before dawn, on
each of the two nights of which I speak, I distinctly heard Mr. Wyatt replace the
lid of the oblong box, and force the nails into their old places, by means of the
muffled mallet. 14

At the end of the story, the reader finds out that Mr. Wyatt's dead wife-not a painting as

the narrator supposes-is the "pictorial treasure within" the oblong box. Because the

reader now knows that it is Mrs. Wyatt's corpse in the box, this portion of the narrative

takes on a new meaning. Every night Mr. Wyatt "disengaged the lid," "removed it

altogether," and "deposited it upon the lower berth in his room." The narrator surmises

that Mr. Wyatt puts the lid on the "lower berth," or bunk, because there was so little room

in his cabin. Given the ending of the story, the reader can suppose that Mr. Wyatt

actually places it upon the bunk because he is not sleeping there, sleeping, instead, inside

the oblong box with his deceased wife. His "sobbing, or murmuring sound," is now

obviously attributable to the fact that his wife is dead and that he opens up her makeshift

coffin to sleep with or, at least, "feast his eyes on" her each night.

Poe's "Sleeping Beauty" motif is most evident in one of the cases his narrator

relates in "The Premature Burial." Monsieur Renelle and "every one who saw her"


14 Edgar Allan Poe, "The Oblong Box," Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays (New York: Library of
America, 1984): 649-650.









suppose his wife dead; thus, Monsieur Renelle has her buried. Her former lover

"journeys from the capital to the remote province in which the village lies, with the

romantic purpose of disinterring the corpse and possessing himself of its luxuriant

tresses." When he unearths the coffin, he discovers that "the lady had been buried alive.

Vitality had not altogether departed; and she was aroused, by the caresses of her lover,

from the lethargy which had been mistaken for death."15 Poe's tale builds upon and

adapts the themes in Grimm and Perrault. The woman's former lover, much like Bennett

and the fairy tale princes, does not care that the woman is dead; rather, her corpse is just

as (and possibly more) desirable than the woman was when she was alive. Like Bennett,

the dwarfs, and the princes, the lover yearns to have one final look at her and to possess

her or something that was once a part of her. In the fairy tales, especially "Snow White,"

the men possess the heroine's dead body; here, the lover wishes to possess the dead

woman's "luxuriant tresses." In contrast to the fairy tales, "Premature Burial" is more

overt in its intentions. The "lover" has a "romantic purpose" and he "caresses" her. Here

Poe presents a more adult and overtly erotic theme than do either the Grimms or Perrault,

while still centering the story in the overtly necrophilic.

In both Perrault's and the Grimms' versions of the "sleeping beauty" tale, only a

certain, preordained prince can pass through the brambles surrounding the palace to

awaken her. As the Grimms' narrator explains, "He stooped down and gave her a kiss.

But the moment he kissed her she opened her eyes and awoke, and smiled upon him." In

Poe's story, even though "vitality had not altogether departed," the prematurely buried



15 Edgar Allan Poe, "The Premature Burial," Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays (New York: Library
of America, 1984): 668.










woman regains full consciousness only after the lover kisses and "caresses" her. 16 In

"Sleeping Beauty" and "Brier Rose," the brambles and thorns that part "of their own

accord" signal a mutual encounter between the prince and the sleeping beauty. In Poe's

tale, the woman's subsequent relationship with her lover is also mutual. Not only does

she only awaken after he arrives at her grave, but she also leaves with him, refusing to

tell her husband that she is alive. More importantly, the story ends "happily ever after"

with the woman fleeing with her lover and living out the rest of her days with him. 17

Though it does not provide a happy ending, "The Fall of the House of Usher" also

parallels the fairy tales. When read alongside "Snow White," a description of Lady

Madeline is noticeably similar to that of the fairy tale heroine. The narrator of the

Grimms' story explains, "They (the dwarfs) would have buried her, but that she looked

still as if she were living, with her beautiful blooming cheeks."18 The narrators of both

Poe's and the Grimms' stories note that the woman is dead but looks alive. Lady

Madeline has a "mockery of a faint blush" rather than simply a "faint blush," thus

implying that the blush is not real because she is dead.19 Snow White "looked still as if

she were living." Both descriptions allow the narrator to let his audience know that the

woman in question seems dead but may not be. Moreover, because of the appearance of


16 Grimm, "Brier Rose," German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by Gammer Grethel trans.
Edgar Taylor (London: H. G. Bohn, 1823), 30.

17 Before the woman and her lover can live "happily ever after," they encounter her husband on the street
many years after her burial and resurrection, and she must sever her ties to her husband in a court of law.
Nevertheless, the "happily ever after" motif survives as the woman's plea to have her marriage ended by
the court is granted and she and her lover continue to live with one another.

18 Grimm, "Snow White," German Fairy Tales and Popular Stories, as Told by Gammer Grethel trans.
Edgar Taylor (London: H. G. Bohn, 1823), 155.

19 Edgar Allan Poe, "The Fall of the House of Usher," Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays (New
York: Library of America, 1984): 329.









life that the dead women possess, neither Usher nor the dwarfs can bring themselves to

bury them. Though Usher claims that he does not want scientists to dig up his sister to

investigate her ailment, not burying her serves the same plot function as does the dwarfs'

refusal to bury Snow White-both women come back to life.

An even more striking similarity is the voyeurism that the tales dramatize and

induce. As previously explained, James Gordon Bennett's voyeurism mirrors the

voyeurism of the prince in Snow White. Similarly, Usher and the narrator of Poe's story

contribute to what David Reynolds describes as "social voyeurism."20 They do not

simply take Lady Madeline to her tomb; they remove the lid of her coffin "and looked

upon the face of the tenant." 21 Though there is no explicit sex in this passage, sexual

desire is inherent. Why must they remove the lid? That Poe places the scene at this point

in the text demonstrates that the two men cannot leave without one final look at what

Bennett called Jewett, the "beautiful female corpse." Moreover, placing Lady Madeline's

body in a room "lying, at great depth, immediately beneath that portion of the building in

which was my own sleeping apartment" means that the narrator literally lies on top of the

corpse every night.

As with Bennett's account of Helen Jewett, the description of the home in Poe's

"The Fall of the House of Usher" resembles the home described in Perrault's "Sleeping

Beauty." In Poe's tale, the narrator describes the house as being infused with "a sense of

insufferable gloom," possessing "bleak walls," being surrounded by "decayed trees," and




20 David Reynolds, Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive I,,g,,Jr,,i,,. '1, in the Age ofEmerson
and Melville (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1988), 215.
21 Edgar Allan Poe, "The Fall of the House of Usher," 329.









evoking in the narrator "an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart."22 A valet takes

him to see Usher in complete "silence."23 These descriptions serve to let the reader know

that the house is a place filled with death and decay. Later, the narrator describes the

lower parts of the house where they lay Lady Madeline to rest as "a region of horror" and

the rest of the home as "the scarcely less gloomy apartments of the upper portion of the

house."24 Here, the narrator sets up the house as a place of "horror," thus foreshadowing

the return of Lady Madeline.

The narrator's descriptions in "The Fall of the House of Usher" are in keeping with

the descriptions of the homes in which the sleeping beauty of the fairy tales is

imprisoned. In Perrault's tale, the narrator recounts the hero's reaction to the scenery of

the home: "He came into a spacious outward court, where every thing he saw might have

frozen up the most fearless person with horror. There reigned all over a most frightful

silence; the image of death every where shewed itself; and there was nothing to be seen

but stretched out bodies of men and animals all seeming to be dead."25 Both narrators

describe the scenes in terms of "horror" and "silence." Scenes of "gloom" or "death" are

everywhere in both the House of Usher and the palace in which Sleeping Beauty lies.

The narrator of "The Fall of the House of Usher" never actually uses the word "death" to

describe the scenery, yet "decayed trees," "insufferable gloom," and "bleak walls" of the

Usher home are as much the "image of death" as what the prince in Perrault's tale


22 Ibid, 317.

23 Ibid, 320.

24 Ibid, 329.

25 Charles Perrault, "The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods," Histories or Tales of Past Times with Morals,
trans. Robert Samber (London: J. Pote & R. Montagu, 1729), 20.









encounters. Moreover, both Poe's narrator and Perrault's prince experience a feeling of

icinesss" or being "frozen with terror" upon first confronting the house or palace.

In the "sleeping beauty" tale, the death and reanimation of the castle is inextricably

linked to that of the heroine. When she dies, the castle dies; all work ceases and the

entire structure exudes death. Upon the princess's awakening, the castle too awakens.

Poe's tale of the Usher family and house plays with the notion that the home and its

inhabitants are tied together. Yet, Poe's story takes an already traditional characteristic

of the Gothic-that the existence of the familial home is linked to that of the family

itself-and twists it as he does other aspects of the Gothic and fairy tale traditions. The

Usher home serves not only as a symbol of the deterioration of the Usher family, but the

home serves as antagonist, possessing self-awareness and causing the family's

deterioration (and, finally, their deaths).

Clearly, the narrator questions how much the "House of Usher" (meaning home)

had affected the "House of Usher" (meaning the family). He speaks of "the perfect

keeping of the character of the premises with the accredited character of the people, and .

. [speculates] upon the possible influence which the one, in the long lapse of centuries,

might have exercised upon the other." He goes on to explain that "the original title of the

estate ... "House of Usher" [was] an appellation which seemed to include, in the minds

of the peasantry who used it, both the family and the family mansion."26 Thus, the

narrator recognizes the not only the ties between house and family, but also the power of

the ancestral home over the Usher line.


26 Poe, "The Fall of the House of Usher," 319.









In Poe's tale, the narrator and Roderick discuss that the house seems sentient.

Roderick insists that the "evidence" and "result" of the house's sentience is "discoverable

... in that silent, yet importunate and terrible influence which for centuries had moulded

the destinies of his family, and which made him what I [the narrator] now saw him."27

The narrator's choice of the word "moulded" to describe the house's effect on the Usher

family holds a dual meaning. On the surface of the statement, the home shapes the

family. As the home "moulded" and decayed, so did the family. But, "mould" also

means "to deteriorate" and "to soil." And although the use of"moulded" as a transitive

verb does not usually carry either of these meanings, as an affective force upon the

family, the home, according to Roderick, contributes to the deterioration of the family,

soiling and destroying them until they are no more.28

Just as "The Fall of the House of Usher" is similar to the Grimms' and Perrault's

fairy tales, Poe's "Ligeia" resembles both "Snow White" and "Sleeping Beauty" and

"Brier Rose." The narrator tells us that Ligeia is characterized by a "marble hand," "skin

rivaling the purest ivory," and hair that is "Raven-black, the glossy, the luxuriant and

naturally curling tresses."29 Much as Bennett describes Jewett's corpse as the whitest

"Parian marble," the narrator of"Ligeia" uses the image of "purest ivory" to describe

Ligeia's skin, summoning visions of Snow White's skin that "was as white as snow."





27 Poe, "The Fall of the House of Usher," 327-328.

28 Roger Corman's 1960 movie version interprets Poe's story in such a way that the house literally tries to
kill the family. When the characters attempt to leave the house, chandeliers fall, nearly killing them, and
the house collapses around the dying Usher family at the closing of the movie.
29 Edgar Allan Poe, "Ligeia," Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays (New York: Library of America,
1984): 263.










The added image of Ligeia's "raven-black" hair furthers the comparison to Snow-White

in that the latter's hair is "as black as ebony."30

"Ligeia" also bears a strong resemblance to Perrault's "Sleeping Beauty" in that the

narrators of both tales describe the heroine's beauty in terms of spectrality or divinity.

Ligeia's beauty was "the radiance of an opium dream-an airy and spirit-lifting vision

more wildly divine than the phantasies which hovered about the slumbering souls of the

daughters of Delos."31 Thus, Ligeia's beauty is more than "divine;" it is far above that

conceived of by even the gods. Perrault's Sleeping Beauty is described in a similar

fashion. The narrator represents Sleeping Beauty as possessing "bright, and in a manner

resplendent beauty, [that] had something in it divine."32 The word "divine" tells the

reader that the women are superior to any other woman, an idea taken even further in

"Ligeia" when the narrator marries a woman he grows to hate because she is so unlike

Ligeia.

The story's ending recalls Bennett's sexually aroused description of Helen Jewett's

corpse. Upon the transformation of Lady Rowena's corpse into Ligeia, the narrator

exclaims, "Here then, at least, can I never-can I never be mistaken-these are the full,

and the black, and the wild eyes-of my lost love-of the lady-of the LADY

LIGEIA!"33 Just as in the earlier passage by Bennett, the dashes evoke the heavy


30 Grimm, "Snow-White," 148.

31 Poe, "Ligeia," 263. In Greek myth, Asteria, one of the Titanades, transformed herself into a meteor and
threw herself into the ocean, becoming the island of Delos in an attempt to escape Zeus. Her sister Leto
came to this island seeking refuge and gave birth to Apollo-god of music, medicine, prophecy, and
poetry-and Artemis-goddess of childbirth, harvest, and hunting. Bullfinch's A iili. ..-: (New York:
Gramercy Books, 1979).

32 Perrault, 20.

33 Poe, "Ligeia," 277.









breathing of the narrator as he looks over the corpse. His excitement builds with each

dash. At last, unable to contain himself, he releases this build-up as he shouts the name

"LADY LIGEIA!" Yet, while Bennett's desire is more restrained, Poe's narrator

communicates a desire mingled with horror. Unlike Jewett, Ligeia comes back from the

dead to confront her voyeur, and though his desire has not dissipated, it is now mixed

with dread.

More so than in his inclusion of sexual overtones in "The Oblong Box" and "The

Premature Burial," Poe adapts the motifs of the fairy tales in both "The Fall of the House

of Usher" and "Ligeia." While ill or dead, the women in Poe's stories cannot resist the

violence perpetuated by the male protagonists, but when they return from the grave, they

frequently become a source of terror for the male narrators, who become the passive

objects of the tales. Unlike Lady Madeline, Ligeia displays not only a "violent" passion,

but also intellect while alive. The narrator explains, "I was sufficiently aware of her

infinite supremacy to resign my self, with a child-like confidence, to her guidance

through the chaotic world of metaphysical investigation at which I was most busily

occupied during the earlier years of our marriage."34 Ligeia acts as loving and patient

teacher to the "child-like" narrator. On her deathbed, Ligeia does not complain of her

discomfort. Rather, with a passion that "amounted to idolatry," she dwells upon her love

for her husband.35 Ligeia controls her husband so much that she infantilizes him, which

is why she must die. Her assertiveness takes too much power from her husband, and the

only path to passivity is death.


34 Ibid, 265-266.

35 Ibid, 267.









Moreover, the narrator of "Ligeia" not only mistreats his new wife, Lady Rowena,

but also may have killed both wives, the objects of his desire.36 The passivity of death

cannot contain the active will of Ligeia. In her return from the grave, Ligeia no longer

lovingly teaches her husband; instead, she becomes an active terror for both the narrator

and his audience. As Karen Weekes suggests, "The narrator is terrified by Ligeia's

reappearance not so much because it means she has conquered death but because she

does it through an act of vehement will, a powerful volition that renders him prostrate."37

Leland S. Person similarly argues that Ligeia's return "also explodes the Angel in the

House ideology."38 Whereas Snow White and Sleeping Beauty awake to marry their

princes and live "happily ever after" likely as domestic goddesses, Ligeia returns to

wreak terror upon her husband.

Women writers like Charlotte Perkins Gillman in "The Yellow Wallpaper" used the

gothic to demonstrate the horrors of domestic ideology. Poe's gothic tales undo any

pretended subversion that they offer of that domestic ideology. Like the poetry of

women in the antebellum period, Poe's tales "cleave to the figure of the Angel

nonetheless, ignoring the price paid by 'living' women forced to 'die' into this role."39

Though Poe's tales do demonstrate that women die to become the pious, passive objects

that men desired, the dead, passive woman is desirable. Even still, his focus is not on the



36 Cynthia Jordan, Second Stories: The Politics of Language Form and Gender in Early American Fiction,
(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989), 135-139.

37 Karen Weekes, "Poe's Feminine Ideal," The Cambridge Companion to EdgarAllan Poe, ed. Kevin J.
Hayes (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002): 159.

38 Leland Person, "Poe and Nineteenth-Century Gender Constructions," A Historical Guide to EdgarAllan
Poe, ed. J. Gerald Kennedy (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2001), 145.

39 Paula Bernat Bennett,, 116.









price the women have paid to conform to societal expectations about domesticity and

become desirable. When his women characters transgress the boundaries between

masculine and feminine norms, they wreak havoc on their male counterparts, with whom

the reader sympathizes because the male is the teller of the tale. While dead, she is "the

most poetical topic in the world," but when reawakened, she becomes more than an

object.40 She is an active force that creates terror in the heart of her husband because she

steps outside of her role as a passive object and firmly places him in that role.

Similarly, in "The Fall of the House of Usher," Roderick Usher does not attempt to

rescue his sister from her premature entombment even though he comes to know that she

is still alive. When Lady Madeline arises from the depths of her tomb, she kills her

brother: "For a moment she remained trembling and reeling to and fro upon the

threshold-then, with a low moaning cry, fell heavily inward upon the person of her

brother, and in her violent and now final death-agonies, bore him to the floor a corpse,

and a victim to the terrors he had anticipated."41 Though Lady Madeline also dies in this

scene, she is entirely active. She "fell," but she also "bore [Roderick] to the floor."

Because Usher has been "anticipating" Lady Madeline's rising from her tomb, she is the

"terror" to which he becomes the "victim."

Because Madeline and Ligeia refuse to die, they refuse to accept their subordinate

positions. Elizabeth Bronfen explains, "Death is not just the end of organic existence, but

also the removal of a social being from society."42 Upon the assumed deaths of Ligeia


40 Edgar Allan Poe, "The Philosophy of Composition," Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays (New
York: Library of America, 1984): 1379.
41 Poe, "The Fall of the House of Usher," 335.

42 Elizabeth Bronfen, Over Her Dead Body: Death, Femininity, and The Aesthetic (New York:
Routledge, 1992): 77.









and Madeline, the narrator of "Ligeia" and Roderick Usher "stand erect, imbued with a

feeling of superiority" over the supposedly dead woman who "is in the passive,

horizontal position, cut down, fallen."43 The narrators of these two stories attempt to

remove Ligeia and Madeline from society, to retain their power, but the women's returns

from their graves illustrate men's fear that this is an impossible feat. The abjection of the

narrator conveys an important message of fear to others-Beware the willful woman; she

is dangerous.

In the fairy tales of the Grimms, Perrault, and Basile, in Bennett's descriptions of

Jewett's Corpse, and in Poe's short stories, men control the narratives. In "The Oblong

Box" and "The Premature Burial," Poe retains these formulas, twisting them by making

them more overtly necrophilic. In other tales, Poe twists these formulas even more,

ending them with the return of the dead woman. But Poe's reanimated women are no

"Sleeping Beauties" or "Snow Whites," content to live "happily ever after" with whoever

is standing close by when she awakens. When she reappears, as in "Ligeia" and "The

Fall of the House of Usher," she functions to demonstrate men's fear of women who

refuse passivity, instead asserting their own will. Whereas scholars like Person suggest

that the tale can "be read from a woman's point of view for its depiction of the domestic

Angel's revenge," the fact that the narration is first-person presents a serious difficulty to

reading it from a woman's point of view.44 The reader has no insight into the female

characters, no insight into their motives for reappearing after their deaths. The "I" of the

male narrator places the reader solely within his perspective. It is the man's terror, men's


43 Bronfen, 65.

44 Person, 145.









fear of the truly active woman, that the reader experiences. If the Grimms encouraged

passivity in women through their tales, Poe demonstrated the terror that active women

created.

Most critics have overlooked the mingling of terror of and desire for a female

corpse, the inherent necrophilia, at work in Poe's tales.45 Even when scholars mention

necrophilia, it is frequently in relation to the erotic fiction of the time, not to Poe. David

Reynolds, who notes that "Antebellum erotic novels, most of which fall into the Dark

Adventure or Subversive categories, commonly included scenes with necrophilic

undertones," later differentiates this popular genre from what he calls "the major

literature."46 In contrast, in Leslie Fiedler's discussion of the theme of incest in Poe's

work, he refers to "The Fall of the House of Usher" and Lady Madeline's return from the

grave:

It is the most horrific of Liebestods, the ultimate expression of Poe's obsessive
dream of being possessed by the dead, raped by a cadaverous sister-beloved,
elsewhere projected in the story of Ligeia, who returns from death to take over the
body of a second bride. But there is in Poe a complementary desire to possess the
dead, to return embrace for embrace, violation for violation. At its mildest and
most conventional, this longing is satisfied in fantasies of lovers joined as fellow
ghosts beyond the grave or chatting cozily after the cataclysmic destruction of the
world. ... Occasionally, however, Poe's necrophiliac heroes descend living into
the tomb .. .47

Here Fiedler recognizes the necrophilia inherent in Poe's works, but he does so in the

context of incest, quickly moving from Poe to incest in the works of Hawthorne and


45 In addition to Terence Whalen, see J. Gerald Kennedy, Poe, Death, and the Life of i; ,', ; (New Haven:
Yale UP, 1987) and David Leverenz, "Spanking The Master: Mind-Body crossings in Poe's
Sensationalism," A Historical Guide to Edgar Allan Poe ed. J. Gerald Kennedy (Oxford: Oxford UP,
2001), 106.

46 Reynolds, 221, 222.

47 Fiedler, 399-400.









Melville. In his other discussions of Poe, Fiedler focuses on the biography and popularity

of the author without any further mention of necrophilia.

Even in works where necrophilia in nineteenth century America is central, critics

gloss over Poe. For example, Russ Castronovo's Necro Citizenship: Death, Eroticism,

and the Public Sphere in the Nineteenth-Century United States fails to fully engage Poe's

use of necrophilia. Investigating the intersections between death, citizenship, and the

public sphere, Castronovo argues that "necro ideology" presents a means of going

"beyond thematic readings of death by drawing attention to knowledge and discourses

that produce dead citizens. That is, necro ideology offers a point of intervention in a

public sphere that fears radically democratic and contestatory politics as overly vibrant

and animated."48 In his book, Castronovo discusses mediums, mesmerism, and

ghostwriting alongside the literary works of Emerson, Hawthorne, and Harriet Jacobs. It

would seem that any argument dealing with necrophilia, especially one that includes

discussions of mesmerism, would have to discuss Poe. Yet in his argument, Castronovo

never launches into a discussion of any length about the author.49

Moreover, in writing about the specific tales that I am examining, scholars tend to

focus their attentions on other aspects of the texts such as the reliability of Poe's

narrators, psychological breakdown in "The Fall of the House of Usher," Ligeia's race,

or the patterns of death and resurrection that recur in Poe's fiction. Some critics have

attempted to fashion Poe into a male feminist ahead of his time. Cynthia Jordan argues

for this vision of Poe, claiming that there are, in fact, three phases evident in Poe's

48 Russ Castronovo, Necro Citizenship: Death, Eroticism, and the Public Sphere in the Nineteenth-Century
United States (Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2001), 14-15.

49 Only five pages of text and two notes even mention him.









fiction, and that the second and third phases progress toward a "reject[ion of] one-sided

male authored fictions and to a new fictional form-a second story that provides a text

for female experience." In the third phase, the detection stories featuring "androgynous"

Auguste Dupin, Jordan argues, "Poe created a new and unquestionably heroic caretaker

of social and political order, and Dupin fulfills these responsibilities by going beyond the

imaginative limits of the male storytellers around him and fully recovering the second

story-the woman's story-that has previously gone untold."50 Jordan's argument is an

interesting one, but it overlooks one important detail of Poe's work-a female narrator

tells only one story, a satire of sensation fiction and women writers titled "How to Write

a Blackwood Article." Every other Poe tale is narrated by a man.

"The Fall of the House of Usher," the tale Jordan singles out as representative of

Poe's second phase, all but ignores the female point of view. The narrator and Roderick

Usher bury the lone female character, Lady Madeline, alive. Seconds before Lady

Madeline reappears, her brother proclaims, "We have put her living in the tomb! Said I

not that my senses were acute! I now tell you that I heard her first feeble movements in

the hollow coffin. I heard them-many, many days ago." If the "androgynous" Usher

does, as Jordan argues, clear a space for female experience, why is it that he does not set

his sister free upon hearing her trying to escape from her coffin? Why is he only now,-a

word emphasized in Poe's text-"many, many days" later, telling the narrator that they

buried Lady Madeline alive? Clearly, Usher's true intent is not to reveal a second story;

he wishes to bury Lady Madeline, to rid himself of the feminine completely. Yet, Usher

50 Jordan, 135. Similarly, Leland S. Person argues, "Even as male characters work to transform women
into aesthetic objects, female characters resis that effort ... Poe criticizes the objectifying tendencies of
his male characters." See Aesthetic Headaches: Women and a Masculine Poetics in Poe, Melville, and
Hawthorne (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1988), 23.









vanishes into the "crack" as the house falls apart. Perhaps the true second story of this

tale is the revenge of the "dead-undead" woman and the abjection of the male.

As Usher's twin, Lady Madeline represents his feminine side; her presence disrupts

his identity and nineteenth century ideals of femaleness. Usher's attempt to rid himself of

his feminine identity exemplifies Julia Kristeva's theory of the abject in works of horror.

Kristeva explains that the abject "draws me toward the place where meaning collapses...

. It lies outside ... And yet, from its place of banishment, the abject does not cease

challenging its master."51 Roderick's relationship with Madeline leads him into abjection.

Not only are they twins, but the narrator implies that the siblings are also lovers, causing

the meaning of his identity as her brother to collapse.52 That the Ushers' family structure

and Roderick's identity collapse is nothing new in the Gothic. William Patrick Day tells

us, "The past that creates fear in the Gothic fantasy is not so much the past of the

ancient regime as it is the immediate past of parents and family."53 Poe's Gothic

challenges this past, disrupting and eventually destroying it.

Madeline continues to "challenge" Roderick even after he attempts to bury her and

the family curse of incest and insanity, and Usher must die when Madeline returns from

the grave. He becomes abject when the "dead-undead" Madeline appears outside the





51 Julia Kriesteva, Powers ofHorror: An Essay on Abjection, Trans. Leon S. Roudiez, (New York:
Columbia UP, 1982), 2.

52 The narrator explains early in the story, "I had learned, too, the very remarkable fact, that the stem of the
Usher race, all time-honored as it was, had put forth, at no period, any enduring branch; in other words,
that the entire family lay in the direct line of descent, and had always, with very trifling and very
temporary variation, so lain." Poe, "The Fall of the House of Usher," 318.

53 William Patrick Day. In the Circles of Fear and Desire: A Study of Gothic Fantasy (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1985), 32.









door to his study. Madeline returns, falls "heavily inward upon [Roderick's] person."54

Even Madeline's final action blurs boundaries, collapses meaning, as she gives birth to

Usher's death. Usher "anticipated" Madeline's return, the return of the abject. He is

unable to rid himself of it, and it returns, violently obliterating his person in a final act of

55
revenge.

In a similar act of willful vengeance, Ligeia returns from the dead, abjecting the

person of the narrator. From the beginning of his story, the narrator describes his

relationship with Ligeia and his grief at her demise and death in ambiguous terms. The

very first sentence highlights the ambiguity of their relationship: "I cannot, for my soul,

remember how, when, or even precisely where, I first became acquainted with the lady

Ligeia." A few lines later, he explains, "And now, while I write, a recollection flashes

upon me that I have never known the paternal name of her who was my friend and my

betrothed, and who became the partner of my studies, and finally the wife of my

bosom."56 Most couples can recount every minute detail of their first meeting, and

husbands do not forget their wives' maiden names. The narrator refers to Ligeia as his

"beloved," yet he knows very little about her. He forgets significant details about her,

and his attempts to convey the emotions he experienced during her illness and death are

equally uncertain. He recalls, "How poignant, then, must have been the grief' at

discovering Ligeia's waning health. The narrator does not recall that his grief was

"poignant," just that it "must have been."


54 Poe, "The Fall of the House of Usher," 335.

55 See also Diane Lond Howeveler, "The Hidden God and the Abjected Woman in 'The Fall of the House
of Usher," Studies in Short Fiction, 29.3 (1992): 385-395.
56 Poe, "Ligeia," 262.









The narrator's seeming forgetfulness is an attempt to rid himself of the abject. If he

cannot tell us about Ligeia, then he is free from her power. Yet, like any attempt to rid

oneself of the abject, his fails. She returns in Rowena's body, exploding the narrator's

assertions that the two women were so different. The narrator's own meaning rests upon

the notion that his second wife was so unlike Ligeia that he hates her. When Ligeia

returns from the dead in Rowena's body, the reader sees that they are the same and

meaning collapses. The strong-willed female refuses to be removed from the story.

Ligeia refuses to die. She returns with each retelling and, so, refuses to be forgotten.

Contrary to Jordan's argument that this is some sort of feminist move on Poe's part, it,

demonstrates the horror of the female will. Ligeia's husband tells the tale; the first

person narrative places the reader in a position of empathy with the narrator. His horror

(and desire) at her return is our horror.

The horror of Poe's tales does not always lie only in the return of the willful

woman from death. Many of his tales incorporate incest among their themes. In "The

Fall of the House of Usher," the reader knows little about the incest between Roderick

and his sister Madeline; the reader is simply told that their family tree has "no enduring

branch." The incest at work in "Berenice" occurs between seemingly consenting parties

of similar standing, whereas in "Morella" the narrator's daughter literally becomes a

substitute for her deceased mother. The varying degrees of incest in these tales function

in different ways. In "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "Berenice," they are

symptoms of the narrators' madness and obsession with their female victims. The incest

and seeming pedophilia in "Morella," on the other hand, are significant contributors to

the actual horror of the tale.









In "Berenice," a tale of a man's obsession with his cousin, the narrator, unlike

many of Poe's others, tells the reader his name, Egaeus.57 Not only do we know the

narrator's name, but he is the only narrator to admit his mental illness. These factors

force the reader into a tenuous relationship with Egaeus. On the one hand, the narrative

is in the first-person, so the reader feels complicit as he reads "I" over and over. On the

other hand, the addition of personal details about the narrator allows the reader to

consciously remember that he is not a participant, that a madman is recounting his

misdeeds. While the reader may feel sympathy with Egaeus., the reader is not forced into

a position where he is empathetic and understanding.

More importantly, Egaeus points out that he and Berenice, the alleged subject of

the tale, were not only cousins, but that they "grew up together in [his] paternal halls."58

When the reader later learn that Egaeus has proposed marriage, the reader is mildly

shocked because he has just explained that he "had never loved her;" his proposal comes

during "an evil moment."59 Havelock Ellis explains that when people grow up together,

they become accustomed to one another, and any incestuous desire that might exist

disappears during puberty. Ellis goes on to explain that "examples of really passionate

incestuous attraction ... are nearly always between those persons who have been

separated during the pubertal period, so that the dulling effect of familiar life on the

development of sexual stimuli has been suspended."60 Assuming Ellis' assertion is true,


57 Edgar Allan Poe, "Berenice," Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays (New York: Library of America,
1984): 225.
58 Ibid, 226.

59Ibid, 229.

60 Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology ofSex. Volume III. (New York: Random House, 1936). 507.









why then would Berenice have harbored feelings of love for the narrator? He tells us,

"She had loved me long." If they had indeed grown up together, shouldn't her love for

Egaeus have become more like that of a sister for a brother? Clearly, something is amiss

in their relationship and in their development.

That the narrator has never loved Berenice comes as no surprise. He begins his tale

discussing Berenice and the illness which had befallen her, yet in the middle of the

paragraph he launches into a detailed discussion about himself, continuing for several

paragraphs before again mentioning the title character of his tale. When he returns to her,

it is only in reference to his perception of her and her disease as caused by his

"monomania": "True to its own character, my disorder reveled in the less important but

more startling changes wrought in the physical frame of Berenice-in the singular and

most appalling distortion of her personal identity."61 And while the tale carries

Berenice's name as its title, the entire tale has very little to do with her.

His cataloging Berenice's features along with his admission that he does not love

her demonstrate Egaeus' perception of her as an object rather than as a lifemate. Like the

narrator of "Ligeia," Egaeus details his object's features:

My burning glances at length fell upon the face.
The forehead was high, and very pale, and singularly placid; and the once
jetty hair fell partially over it, and overshadowed the hollow temples with
innumerable ringlets now of a vivid yellow, and jarring discordantly, in their
fantastic character, with the reigning melancholy of the countenance. The eyes
were lifeless, and lusterless, and seemingly pupil-less.62


61 Poe, "Berenice," 229.

62 Ibid, 230.









Here and in "Ligeia" and other tales, Poe makes literary use of what Laura Mulvey calls

"the male gaze."63 Though Mulvey coined the term specifically in reference to film,

Poe's works clearly lend themselves to similar discussion.

Each of Poe's tales that is told by a male narrator forces the reader into a position

where he is "viewing" the story and the woman from a male point of view. As mentioned

earlier, the tales refuse to incorporate the female experience. Like Ligeia, Berenice is no

longer a person to either the narrator or the reader. She is only a composite of her

features. In fact, Egaeus does not even acknowledge that these features belong to her.

They are merely "the forehead," "the eyes," "the once jetty hair." The reader does not

really become complicit in Egaeus' actions, but he revels not only in the narrator's

objectification of the woman, but also in his perversions, which range from incest to

murder to violation. Still, Egaeus, in telling "Berenice," involves the reader in his

"monomania." As he becomes fixated on Berenice's teeth, so too does his reader.

Because he can think of nothing more, the reader can think of nothing more. His

confusion about his violation of Berenice's grave is the reader's confusion, and his horror

is the reader's horror.

Unlike the narrator of "Ligeia" and Roderick Usher, Egaeus never suffers

abjection at the hands of his victim. He violates Berenice, rather than her returning to

violate him. Berenice is buried, and though the reader can infer that she was not really

dead when Egaeus pulled out all of her teeth, she does not return. Since she never played

a large role in the tale that bears her name, it is not surprising that the tale ends without

even a glimpse at her reanimated form. More importantly, Egaeus is so unsure himself of


63 Laura Mulvey, Visual and Other Pleasures (London: Macmillan, 1989).









the events of the tale that the reader cannot be certain that Berenice was alive. The

ending is ambiguous, yet it is clear that Egaeus has succeeded of ridding himself of the

female completely, at least as far as his narrative is concerned. Even when the servant

comes in to speak to him "of a wild cry disturbing the silence of the night... of a

violated grave-of a disfigured body enshrouded, yet still breathing, still palpitating, still

alive!"64 he never mentions Berenice by name. She has become a "disfigured body"

without name and without gender.

Whereas the incest in "Berenice" seems mostly consensual and its horror lies in

the monomania of its narrator, in "Morella" the narrator is in a position of authority over

his daughter; thus, a part of the horror of the tale lies in the implication of incest between

father and daughter. Here is another of Poe's "un-fairy tales." Taking off from the

"incest" tales ofBasile, Perrault, and the Grimms, Poe incorporates the basic elements of

the 510 b tale type, which is characterized by a father who wishes to marry his daughter.

Morella the mother sets the events of the tale in motion by cursing her husband as she

breathes her last breath: "The days have never been when thou couldst love me-but her

whom in life thou didst abhor, in death thou shalt adore."65 Morella goes on to explain

that she is pregnant and that after her death, her child will live, but "the hours of thy

happiness are over; and joy is not gathered twice in a life."66 The narrator is confused by

Morella's words, but soon, the reader learns that her curse has dire consequences for her

daughter.


64 Poe, "Berenice," 232.

65 Edgar Allan Poe, "Morella," Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays (New York: Library of America,
1984): 236.
66 Ibid, 236.