Abstract

Although confusion about the genre of New Woman Ella D'Arcy's only novella has resulted in a lack of scholarship, The Bishop's Dilemma can now be read as a social commentary that reaches beyond the New Woman subversion of the Victorian marriage plot, broadening the gender discussion at the fin-de-siècle. In this essay, I examine how D'Arcy uses Catholicism as a vehicle to create a unique space in the Catholic ritual of the confession that gives her reader privileged access to Victorian manhood. I argue that by placing her examination of masculinity in the context of the Catholic priesthood, D'Arcy renders her protagonist, Herbert Fayler, unable to use the convention of marriage as a means of subjugation or salvation of Dilemma's female characters, removing the marriage plot as a framework for the tension in the text and leaving Fayler's masculinity vulnerable to his own self-censure. I conclude that D'Arcy does not condemn Fayler any more than she blames the New Woman characters of her earlier short stories for their plight, but rather, D'Arcy constructs a figure of masculinity that exposes dangers present when men are groomed in a romanticized world with idealized notions of masculine life.

Degree

MA

College and Department

Humanities; English

Rights

http://lib.byu.edu/about/copyright/

Date Submitted

2011-07-06

Document Type

Thesis

Handle

http://hdl.lib.byu.edu/1877/etd4555

Keywords

New Woman, Ella D'Arcy, The Bishop's Dilemma, Catholicism, masculinity, priest, ideal, fin-de-siècle, marriage, confessional

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