The full text of this item is not available at this time because the student has placed this item under an embargo for a period of time. The Libraries are not authorized to provide a copy of this work during the embargo period, even for Texas A&M users with NetID.
LOVE AND THE MONSTER: WHEN HETEROSEXUAL ROMANTIC LOVE BETRAYS THE SUBJECT IN THE VICTORIAN NOVEL
MetadataShow full item record
The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the ways heterosexual romantic love deconstructs and threatens the subject in the Victorian novel. The romantic myth that love can consolidate and empower the subject has prevailed in the discourse on love, which the Victorian novel has played an important role in spreading by offering it a popular narrative form. While various media including poems, novels, plays, movies, and songs are intent upon celebrating love’s power to make one whole, unique, and stable, many philosophers and literary critics, especially feminist critics, have criticized the romantic myth in that it exploits the other’s (particularly women’s) love to solidify the conventional patriarchal subject, which reveals how the romantic ideology works. Acknowledging their insightful criticism on love, I suggest that many confound the romantic myth, the romantic ideology, and love itself. To criticize the romantic ideology and dismantle the romantic myth does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that love actually supports the subject. This dissertation aims to identify love’s power in a different context. By focusing on the moments when the romantic ideology fails in the Victorian novel, I contend that both the beloved and love can be the Monster that shatters the conventional subject and enables us to conceive a different notion of a subject. I use the term, the Monster, to refer to the ungraspable and uncontrollable Other and to emphasize the Other’s monstrous potential to fracture and destabilize the subject. Three chapters, except the introduction and conclusion, explore heterosexual romantic relationships in three Victorian novels. First, I examine what happens to the conventional male subject when he falls in love with the female Monster in Elizabeth Braddon’s sensation novel, Aurora Floyd. This dissertation then addresses George Meredith’s experimental novel, The Egoist, to argue that the conventional patriarch’s narcissistic love does not help him to be the singular and omnipotent subject but reveals him as the Monster. Lastly, I delve into Maggie’s limitless and contradictory desires and her complex romantic relationships in George Eliot’s canonical novel, The Mill on the Floss, to consider alternative conceptions of love and a subject different from conventional ones. While the dominant discourse on love in the Victorian age asserts that home solely founded on romantic love is a sacred shelter for the subject, fictions illuminate that love can be dangerous and intimidating to the subject. This project demonstrates how a Monstrous view of love described in the Victorian novel deconstructs and dethrones both the romantic ideology and the conventional subject.
Han, Heeseung (2020). LOVE AND THE MONSTER: WHEN HETEROSEXUAL ROMANTIC LOVE BETRAYS THE SUBJECT IN THE VICTORIAN NOVEL. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from