Date of Award

5-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Committee Member

Dr. David Coombs, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Erin Goss

Committee Member

Dr. Megan Eatman

Abstract

This paper seeks to explore connections between the sensation fiction genre of the 1860s and theatricality. The theatricality present in sensation fiction plays on the fears of acting and insincerity that Nina Auerbach outlines in her book Private Theatricals: The Lives of the Victorians. Theatricality differs from performance or performativity, areas abundant with scholarship, in that it describes a person’s ability to perform, not elements of an individual performance. In this thesis, I analyze characters within sensation fiction who utilize their theatricality in order to mask their sincere identities or interior self, or portions of their identities in some cases. Specifically, I look at Lady Audley, Robert Audley, and Clara Tabloys from Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret, Magdalen Vanstone from Wilkie Collins’s No Name, and Isabel Vane and Francis Levison from Ellen Wood’s East Lynne.

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