Mapping Sickness to the River Thames in Selected Victorian Literature
Philpin, Selina Jayne
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This dissertation, Mapping Sickness to the River Thames in Selected Victorian Literature, specifically argues that the homogeneous relationship between humanity and nature is emulated through human sickness and the River Thames. It demonstrates, first, how Dickens‘s Our Mutual Friend (1865), Jerome‘s Three Men in a Boat (1889) and Conrad‘s Heart of Darkness (1899) positions the Thames as a metaphor for the physical sicknesses which were rife in Victorian society. Narrative portrayals of the River are examined to note the representation of sickness through concepts of childhood, identity and symbolism. Secondly, Ruskin‘s The Storm Cloud (1884), Stevenson‘s Jekyll and Hyde (1886) and White‘s ‗The Four Days‘ Night‘ (1903) are scrutinised to show how Industrialisation inaugurated fog into the City, which conflated with the mists of the River, causing equivocal representations of literary mental illness. It poses the theory that fog was a narrative disclosure for clinical depression, acts of madness including murder or criminal deeds, and fears in relation to the ‗unknown‘. Lastly, with reference to Doyle‘s The Sign of Four (1890), Shaw‘s Mrs Warren’s Profession (1893) and Stoker‘s Dracula (1897) it examines how contagion – as an element of sickness – is evoked through the representation of foreignness, prostitution and the Victorian fin de siècle cultural figure - the New Woman, all of which can be traced to the River Thames.
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