“The Remembrance Haunts Me Like a Crime”: Narrative Control, the Dramatic, and the Female Gothic in Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Mathilda

Kathleen A. Miller, University of Delaware
Vol. 27, No. 2 (Fall 2008), 291-308

For many years, scholarship on the female gothic has critiqued these works as being essentially conservative and by extension antifeminist. In this essay, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Mathilda is read against such charges in an attempt to demonstrate the ways in which gothic heroines deploy dramatic conventions in order to recuperate their feminist potential. With an eye towards the performative, this essay finds in the character of Mathilda a powerful actress or artist rather than a submissive victim. Whereas previous scholarship has pointed to Mathilda’s seeming lack of control throughout the novel, this essay highlights the high degree of control she is invested with by virtue of the very narrative that she creates.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]