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Ordinary MasochismsAgency and Desire in Victorian and Modernist Fiction$
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Jennifer Mitchell

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780813066677

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813066677.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

A Drama in Muslin’s Queer Mysticism

A Drama in Muslin’s Queer Mysticism

(p.57) Chapter 3 A Drama in Muslin’s Queer Mysticism
Ordinary Masochisms

Jennifer Mitchell

University Press of Florida

Marginalized physically by her hunchback, religiously by her staunch Protestantism, and emotionally by her unrequited lesbian desires, A Drama in Muslin’s Cecilia Cullen cannot control her love for the novel’s heroine, Alice. Her increasingly frustrated desires culminate in her religious conversion from Protestantism to Catholicism, and its accompanying discourse of divine torment. At the novel’s close, Cecilia paints herself as a sacrificial female martyr who relishes in the abuse of God. Cecilia’s account of her grief, her pain, her sin, and her love echoes the language with which earlier female mystics describe their relationship with Christ and God. The prime example, St. Teresa of Avila, employs terms that help foreground Cecilia’s own religious masochism. This chapter approaches Cecilia Cullen as a doubly marginalized young woman and as the prototype of Victorian mysticism, a representation of the tellingly queer transition to devout religiosity in all its spectacular masochistic glory.

Keywords:   A Drama in Muslin, St. Teresa of Avila, religious masochism

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