The Looking Glass : New Perspectives on Children's Literature, Vol 7, No 1 (2003)

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Alice's Academy

Elizabeth L. Pandolfo Briggs, editor


Subversion and Recuperation of Gender Roles in George MacDonald's "The Day Boy and the Night Girl"

Linda Montag


Linda Montag teaches poetry and composition at the University of Haifa, Israel, where she is a doctoral candidate. Her dissertation is about the intertextual narrative produced by Byron's allusions to Shakespeare in Don Juan. Her research interests include the Romantics' reading of Shakespeare, Shakespeare as performed on the early nineteenth-century stage, Bardolatry, and children's literature.


In this issue we get the chance to expand our George MacDonald horizons by taking a look at one of his often overlooked short stories: "The Day Boy and the Night Girl". Author Linda Montag takes us into the Victorian mindset and into the complexities and limitations of MacDonald's subversive thinking on gender in this illuminating article. For those of us familiar only with The Princess and the Goblin, The Princess and Curdie, At the Back of the North Wind, or Phantastes, this story adds an important dimension to our understanding of MacDonald as a writer for children.
(Elizabeth L. Pandolfo Briggs, editor)

 

Interrogation of social standards, common in literature, is particularly transparent in MacDonald's story "The Day Boy and the Night Girl," which undermines, inverts, and ultimately reinforces nineteenth-century gender ideology. MacDonald subverts prevalent nineteenth-century attitudes toward women and patriarchy by pushing gender stereotypes to their extremes (thereby exposing the deficiency of the model), but then paradoxically reinforces the Victorian gender stereotypes he interrogates. By radically splitting the title characters into binary opposites, MacDonald undermines the traditional perception of the characteristics of each sex, for example by revealing the courage of the girl and the cowardice of the boy. MacDonald is perhaps at his most subversive when, in stark contrast to the contemporary conduct books for women which stressed that a wife must completely subordinate her needs to those of her husband and children, he demonstrates that in a happy relationship the husband and wife function not as polar opposites and according to hierarchy, but operate on a system of mutuality, complementarity, and reciprocity. Nonetheless, the fairy tale's movement toward a happily-ever-after ending includes each character's acquisition of the stereotypically "appropriate" gender traits.

Mary Poovey argues that "the middle-class ideology we most often associate with the Victorian period was both contested and always under construction" and therefore "it was always open to revision, dispute, and the emergence of oppositional formulations" (3). According to Jack Zipes, George MacDonald uses fantasy "to mirror the ossification of English social and religious standards" and experiments "with conventions to undermine them and illuminate new directions for moral and social behavior" (105). Roderick McGillis has pointed out that "MacDonald encourages us to reconsider our attitudes to sex roles and sexual stereotyping" (10). In her extensive analysis of this story, Cynthia Marshall deliberately "excluded the important role of gender" in order to focus on the allegorical nature of the tale (73, n.4) -- a significant gap that this paper intends to fill.

The story's beginning seduces us into expecting a typical didactic children's story:

There was once a witch who desired to know everything. But the wiser a witch is, the harder she knocks her head against the wall when she comes to it. Her name was Watho, and she had a wolf in her mind. She cared for nothing in itself -- only for knowing it. She was not naturally cruel, but the wolf had made her cruel (425).

This opening heralds our entrance into the familiar realm of make-believe, and the foreshadowing of the witch's future punishment reassures us that cruelty will not prevail. Gillian Avery notes that Victorian children would "understand, even expect" that fantasy, like traditional fairy stories, would provide "purpose and a moral code; good would be rewarded, evil punished" (128). But as McGillis has pointed out, MacDonald's "method in all his stories [is to create] situations with which we are familiar, and then [confound] our expectations" (9). As we shall see, the "moral code" here is left ambiguous, despite the death of the witch. The story questions more than it answers.

The witch Watho, whose very name sounds interrogative, is the antithesis of the stereotypical Victorian lady and greedy for knowledge. In contrast to the innocent curiosity of Pandora or Eve (neither of whom could have predicted the terrible consequences of their actions because the evil and death they unleashed were hitherto unknown), Watho's masculinely aggressive lust for knowledge is unbounded by even the most fundamental human values. She deliberately tries to maim the Day Boy and the Night Girl by drastically limiting their experience of the world. As Edith Honig has noted, Watho's craving to know leads her to place "man's law over God's" and puts her in the same league as Faust or Dr. Frankenstein (115), whose excessive desire for knowledge bred evil because they forgot the sanctity of human life.

Paradoxically, intellectual curiosity, a quintessentially human characteristic, can turn those who detach it from moral restraints into vicious, irrational beasts. MacDonald was writing at a time when scientific and social developments, particularly evolution, were arousing general "intense anxiety and self-doubt" (Stephen Prickett, Victorian Fantasy, 40), and his characterization of Watho taps into the widespread apprehensions about the human and moral implications of the new and frightening ways of viewing man and creation. Watho becomes a combination deranged scientist and wicked stepmother, and the ambiguity of her gender is highlighted by this blending of masculine and feminine roles.

Her immoderate desire drives her to breed two babies under highly unnatural experimental conditions. The Day Boy, Photogen, is never exposed to darkness, and the Night Girl, Nycteris, is hidden away from the sun. By cruelly experimenting on helpless infants, Watho both perverts the central, universal female characteristic, a nurturing nature, and dabbles in the most threatening male occupation, the scientific analysis and manipulation of human identity -- literally splitting it into its constituent parts. Nurturing is such a central feature of the Victorian notion of "True Womanhood" that its corruption in this story seems so unnatural (even in a witch) that it must be explained by her "wolf."

Yet according to Natalie McKnight, while the Victorians considered mothering "[t]he most important job imaginable," along with this idolization came the "implication . . . that any intellectual or spiritual failing in the child can and should be attributed to the mother" (4). McKnight claims that the admonitions of widely popular conduct books and medical instructions demonstrate that the mother's influence on her children was both idealized and feared, and she concludes that in terms of Victorian ideology, the mother is "the great creator that must be tamed. . . . She is all-important . . . but she better not try to be too important" (18). Watho definitely tries "to be too important" in her engineering of the children, and when Photogen falls ill despite her care, she grows to hate him "because he was her failure" (MacDonald's emphasis, 452). Her passion mounts until she begins to torment and prick him till he bleeds (453). She decides to "soothe her wolf pain" by exposing Nycteris to the scorching sun and watching her die (454).

Stephen Prickett has noted that "many of the elements in MacDonald's writings which we would nowadays be most likely to see in terms of symbolism and fantasy were, for him, accounts of new scientific discoveries" (Poetics of Realism 87). Watho's cruelty as a surrogate mother can be compared to a some of the worst case studies of maternal derangement from the contemporary medical guidebooks. These books stressed the importance of the expectant mother's regulation of "all physical aspects of her life, such as diet, social habits, and exercise," as well as "her feelings, for these too would be inscribed upon her child" (Shuttleworth 37). By having Watho take these prescriptions to an extreme, MacDonald demonstrates the injuries that can be inflicted through improper maternal influence. Significantly, however, both children ultimately maintain their spiritual autonomy and achieve wholeness, despite Watho's cruel and temporarily debilitating interference.

Essentially meddling in the wombs of the pregnant women in her castle, Watho provides each with special foods to produce the bizarre results she wants in their offspring. In addition to the milk that both receive, with its maternal connotations, the diet of Photogen's mother, Aurora, includes light, active, outdoor foods: "venison and feathered game . . . and . . . sunny sparkling wine" (426), while Nycteris's mother, Vesper, is supplied with foods of darkness and death: "wine as dark as a carbuncle, and pomegranates, and purple grapes, and birds that dwell in marshy places" (427).

Watho exerts complete social, intellectual, and emotional control over the ladies who are enjoying her devious hospitality. In a gothic maneuver, the witch lodges each lady in different parts of her castle and neither knows of the other's existence -- a pattern that will be repeated with the Day Boy and the Night Girl.

The natural characteristics of each woman are heightened by the surroundings Watho provides. Aurora's rooms feature "airy spaces, . . . brilliant landscape and sky, . . . plentiful sunlight, . . . musical instruments, books, picture, curiosities, [and] the company of Watho, who made herself charming" (426). Her vivaciousness is sustained through her entertaining indoor environment.

Vesper, widowed, blind, sad, and lethargic, is lodged in windowless chambers like "the tomb of an Egyptian king," furnished with "many couches, covered with richest silk" and carpets "so thick, she might have cast herself down anywhere -- as befitted a tomb" (427). In this tomb Watho maintained the "atmosphere of sweet sorrow" by providing "mournful" and "wailful" music and telling her "sad tales" (427). Vesper's excessive submissiveness is prolonged in her numbing chambers until she finally enters the ultimate passivity of death.

While Watho exhibits wildness, which is one forbidden behavioral extreme, her two guests are at the opposite end of the spectrum of behavior that Victorian women were warned to avoid. In a popular Victorian advice book Sarah Ellis criticized her contemporaries' "morbid listlessness of mind and body, except when under the influence of stimulus," which she perceived as a social danger that could damage the next generation (quoted in Shuttleworth 35). The submissiveness and immobility of Aurora and (particularly) Vesper are so exaggerated that, even by the standards of fairy tales, these characters have no character. Both mothers are unadmirable paragons of passivity, parodies of Victorian middle-class women incarcerated in their drawing rooms. They are merely symbolic vessels for the children they produce, and they allow themselves to be shaped accordingly.

Victorian wives and mothers were directed by conduct guides to "have no existence separate from their duties and affections toward their families and communities," and at the same time they were warned not to turn into household drudges (McKnight 6). Women were expected to devote their lives to their children, yet they were also exhorted not to neglect their wifely duties in the process. Aurora enacts the failure to balance these contradictory demands when she believes Watho's false claim that her baby died the moment he was born, and returns to her husband, who "had been sent on a far and difficult embassy" (425), leaving Photogen in the witch's clutches. Vesper, already widowed, commits the ultimate act of maternal neglect and dies, also thereby abandoning her child in order to join her husband. The "failure" of these mothers leaves Watho free to take over their roles and to raise their babies as binary opposites, with each one deprived of half the world.

According to MacDonald's biographer William Raeper, "it was part of his romantic ideal to elevate woman out of the drawing-room to stand beside man as an equal co-partner under God" (60). While Vesper and Aurora cannot be blamed for their lack of a guiding male, MacDonald may be using the disastrous results of their fatal submission to their narrow bounds to suggest that successful mothering requires broader horizons and active engagement with the world.

Watho is a particularly terrifying female because her sinister research on the infants involves no overt recourse to magic. There is no hint that Aurora and Vesper knew her to be a witch. Although the story's setting in a large castle takes us out of the familiar physical realm of the bourgeoisie, we do not leave the realm of what is physically possible in nature until the end of the story, when Watho's wolf escapes the confines of her mind and overwhelms her body, revealing her as a werewolf. Werewolves exist only in fantasy, but women who abuse infants can be anywhere, perhaps, as the medical guides and conduct books point out, even right upstairs in the nursery.

There is, however, something disturbing about the origins of Photogen and Nycteris. We learn that Watho "got two ladies to visit her" (425) and that "Watho at length had her desire. . . a splendid boy was born to the fair Aurora" (427) and five or six months later "the dark lady also gave birth to a baby" (428). The deliberate vagueness about how much time elapsed between the ladies' arrival at the castle and the birth of their children, coupled with the statement that Watho "had her desire, for witches often get what they want" (427) arouses some uncertainty about the babies' paternity.

At one level, it is perfectly logical to suppose that the ladies were pregnant when they arrived, and that for reasons of modesty the narrative does not mention the fact. After all, this is "officially" a children's story, and children (unlike their suspicious elders) do not surreptitiously count up months to determine a newborn's legitimacy.

At another level, we have the uneasy suspicion that Watho, who "got" the lonely, vulnerable ladies to visit her, may have begotten the children in some witchy way. Through her, somehow, "the mothers, who had never seen each other, had changed eyes in their children" (462). Photogen's "eyes were as black as Vesper's" (427), and Nycteris "had just the eyes of Aurora" (428).

Whether or not we see hints of lesbian relations in this mediation between the mothers' wombs and the resultant transfer of characteristics, the natural sexual order is disrupted in a way that facilitates Watho's experiment. It is highly significant that the children are raised in the absence of a patriarchal figure. One of the most salient characteristics of Victorian society was its organization around the supremacy of the father, and his wife and children's total legal dependence upon him. Watho wields all of the power in her castle, and she makes her own rules.

She embodies many typically male behavioral characteristics: she answers to no one in the management of her estate, she confines her lady guests to trivial drawing room amusements, and she locks up Nycteris while exaggerating Photogen's physical freedom (at least in daylight). Outside the pale of the patriarchy, she exploits the prerogatives of the patriarch. She may be free and powerful, but she uses her power to control and maltreat those around her.

By reversing the patriarchal system in this way, MacDonald may be suggesting that it is the abuse of power, rather than patriarchy per se, that is the source of evil. On the other hand, perhaps his point is that a matriarchy is potentially even more oppressive than patriarchy has often been. Raeper notes that "MacDonald's Christianity asserted patriarchy and submission, even if it was mutual submission" (261). In practice, this "mutual" submission often requires the angelic female to "unselfishly" concede her husband's superiority, as we see in MacDonald's life and works (see Raeper, especially pages 165, 169, 211, 260-261).

Nycteris is literally, and Photogen is symbolically, orphaned. This loss frees the children from normal social restraints and allows them to grow up without the burden of filial responsibilities. Watho deprives them of love and does everything in her power to maintain their ignorance about the natural world, normal human life experience, and their origins and identities, but she is unable to snuff out their natural responsiveness to love.

The way Watho operates brings to the surface the role of women in perpetuating women's oppression. (It is not insignificant that many of the conduct books narrowly prescribing women's proper role were written by women). Aurora and Vesper's complicity in allowing themselves to be virtually imprisoned is striking. Unlike Nycteris, they are content to remain inside and passive. With her deficient education and isolation from the outside world, Nycteris is more enlightened than these women are, and we begin to suspect that her lack of socialization paradoxically may be the source of her strength.

The mothers' prenatal diets were designed to exaggerate particular traits in their offspring, and the children's "education" is meant to complete this process of mutation. The polarization of Photogen and Nycteris comprises the following pairs of traits: day/night, light/darkness, life/death, vision/blindness, strength/weakness, freedom/confinement, education/ignorance, energy/inertia, courage/timidity, rationality/emotion, physical/spiritual, external/internal (and readers can doubtless extend this list). Except for the first four pairs of terms, the binary opposites conform to male/female stereotypes that are still widely prevalent. As we shall see, MacDonald turns each of these positive/negative pairs on its head. Furthermore, the children's extremely limited experience is sharply contrasted to normal human existence, and seems even more exaggerated in comparison to Watho's equivocal gender traits.

Watho ensures that Photogen, the Day Boy, "should not know darkness" (427). She virtually bakes him in the sun "[t]hat he might ripen like a peach" and she brings "all her knowledge to bear on making his muscles strong and elastic and swiftly responsive -- that his soul. . . might sit in every fibre, be all in every part, and awake the moment of call" (427). When he outgrows the training she can give him, she puts Fargu, her chief huntsman, in charge of his education. (Apparently even witches are limited in masculine, outdoor skills and knowledge, or perhaps Watho was trying to restrict him to a male environment; she herself does not radiate any feminine softness). He quickly becomes a fearless hunter, and "more like a live thunderbolt than a human being" (429). He knows neither fear nor temptation -- a hint that his soul is paralyzed and that he is an emotional cripple.

In contrast to Photogen's over-exposure to light, sensation, and movement, Watho subjects Nycteris to darkness, sensory deprivation, and physical confinement. The Night Girl's meager education is given orally. "Not meaning she should have light enough to read by, to leave other reasons unmentioned, [Watho] never put a book in her hands" (430). Unbeknownst to her captor, the optic nerves and sight organs of this "little bat" grow larger and more sensitive due to this treatment.

The clever girl coaxes Falca, the servant woman, to teach her the letters, and then teaches herself to read the books she occasionally brings her. Nycteris's healthy longing for knowledge is starkly contrasted to Watho's wicked desire. The girl instinctively senses that knowledge is the key to a more complete, less confining world. Falca, by acting out the stereotype of the susceptible and untrustworthy female servant, enables Nycteris's escape from ignorance and imprisonment and proves herself less subjugated than her social superiors.

Nycteris is the only female in the story who manages to break out of her intellectual and physical prison -- and she does this by wheedling, secretly exploring, and pretending ignorance. She turns her restraints into the assets that facilitate her escape. Having been left to educate herself, she excels at problem solving. Deprived of light, she learns to see in the dark. Not having been socialized into passivity, but merely physically restrained, she is able to rescue Photogen from physical danger and incapacitating fear. MacDonald seems to be suggesting that despite the very real limitations imposed upon women, if they use their minds and hearts, women have the power to free themselves and to exercise enormous influence on the stronger, ostensibly more powerful, sex.

The resilience of Nycteris's psyche, despite extreme deprivation, contrasts with Photogen's spiritual sluggishness. His muscles are perfectly conditioned, but his physical training fails to prepare his soul to "awake the moment of call" (427) -- on the contrary he responds to Nycteris's terrified cry for help when she first encounters daylight "with the arrogance of all male creatures until they have been taught by the other kind" (449). Watho's distance from female humanity is manifest in her inability to convey to Photogen the spirituality that Nycteris eventually awakens in him. MacDonald suggests that selflessness and pity are inherent feminine qualities, while selfishness and disdain are congenital male traits that must be tempered by the feminine if man is to become fully human.

The Night Girl is depicted as more admirable, courageous, and charitable than the Day Boy. Despite (or indeed because of ) her suffering, she is more curious and resourceful than he. Like Irene in The Princess and the Goblin and Tangle in "The Golden Key," Nycteris does not know the goal of her quest, but she knows that she must overcome her fear and push forward. Nycteris, unlike the other two girls, has no helping grandmother. Her only guide is her own intellect, and she struggles alone to understand the nature of her prison and the world outside in order to reach out to other people.

Watho's experiment deprived Nycteris of the most basic sexual knowledge -- she does not know that another sex exists. She is completely ignorant of gender stereotypes, which means that she is free to be herself and express her feelings and observations. Photogen, who has more knowledge of social and sexual matters, is deeply offended when she tells him he "must be a brave girl" as he trembles in her lap crazed with terror at his first experience of darkness (446). He takes her words as an emasculating insult. Despite his paralyzing fear, her words bring him to his feet. "If you were a man, I should kill you," he says (446). Nycteris concludes that he cannot be a girl because "girls are not afraid -- without reason. I understand now: it is because you are not a girl that you are so frightened" (446).

This completely unsocialized girl does not view timidity as part of female identity, because no one has exposed her to this gender ideology. Girls, in her experience, know fear only when it is rational to be afraid. In contrast, Photogen, who has been carefully trained to act brave in the face of real danger, cannot experience fear without feeling that his very manhood is threatened: "I have given you too good reason to call me [a girl]," he tells Nycteris in shame (446). He blames the darkness for making him "behave like a girl" (447). The story brings to the surface society's role in destroying girls' inborn courage and forcing men to mask their reasonable fears with bravado. It exposes the need to socialize men to curb their aggression against females, and points out how social and cultural restraints are often detrimental to women.

Yet the glimpse we get of the isolated little world in the castle that Watho creates for ladies only is even more restrictive than Victorian society, and Nycteris's total ignorance of the opposite sex is deadening. Furthermore, we admire Photogen's repeated attempts to face his fear of the dark. In fact, the very social forces that cause him to suffer such shame about his fear push him to try to overcome it. Nycteris, on the other hand, once she makes her way home after her first terrifying exposure to the sun, is described as "one alive in a tomb," and she makes no effort to conquer her fear (450). She becomes completely passive after encountering the world-revealing sun (and the boy, whose heartlessness devastates her).

The binary oppositions so blatantly foregrounded in the children and their mothers seem to direct us to an allegorical reading, but, as in other fantasies by MacDonald, any allegorical interpretation is frustrated by the text's multiplicity of symbols. In his discussion of The Princess and the Goblin, for example, Colin Manlove points out that to read the suggestive symbolism through an allegorical framework is to diminish the work's energy, mystery, and suggestiveness, and he reminds us of "MacDonald's claim, 'A fairytale is not an allegory. There may be allegory in it, but it is not an allegory' " (87). Allegorical readings of "The Day Boy and the Night Girl" are similarly and of necessity incomplete. While revealing strong patterns of meaning, they ultimately uncover ambiguity and uncertainty.

For example, Marshall reads the story as primarily an allegorical expression of MacDonald's struggle with Calvinism. She notes the story's "intense moral ambivalence" (57), and finds it "odd that the tale portrays Nycteris . . . so sympathetically" (65). Indeed, light and dark usually represent good and evil respectively, yet this story emphatically rejects such symbolism, insisting on the value of each and the necessity of their integration. Marshall explains this difficulty in terms of MacDonald's "potential Manichaeism" (67) and claims that "he destroys, in the person of Watho, the part of himself that had invented such a [heretical] scheme" (70).

More persuasively, Marshall suggests that the tale can also be read as an allegory of the fall, "which secures for it a place within orthodox religious tradition" (70). According to this reading, "MacDonald's story posits day and night as parts of one primal whole, not products of two creators" (71). This reading seems better supported by the text itself, in which, after all, the Day Boy and the Night Girl are both shaped by the same wolfish mind, who is herself a mixture of love and hate, good and evil. But as I have tried to demonstrate, this interpretation leaves much of the story's suggestiveness unexamined.

Frank Riga reads this story as a critique of Plato's allegory of the cave, in which the cave is "only an illusion of true reality [that] must be transcended;" for MacDonald, "darkness is not evil or false in itself, but one of the constituent elements of reality" (127). He makes the convincing claim that "MacDonald's marriage of Photogen and Nycteris argues for the joining of day and night, light and dark, spirit and flesh, male and female into a natural wholeness, one manifested in our common experience of earthly love" (128).

The Day Boy and the Night Girl are perfect counterparts, each lacking a quality very highly developed in the other. Simultaneously they learn to understand and forgive each other for being incomplete. Gillian Avery has noted that "MacDonald . . . excelled at making virtue in children both credible and attractive" (136). Photogen and Nycteris are enormously appealing as they overcome their weaknesses while helping each other.

Although the story questions the traditional Victorian stereotypes of gender and allows the characters to transgress boundaries, ultimately the narrative devolves into traditional patriarchal norms. The too-powerful (hence beastly) female must be destroyed, the weak male must gather his strength, and the tenacious female must surrender to the fear she has learned to feel, become helpless, and be rescued and protected by the male.

Having slain Watho as she bore down upon them in the form of a werewolf, Photogen's first move is to marry Nycteris, "for then. . . the king himself can't part us; and if ever two people couldn't do the one without the other, those two are Nycteris and I. She has got to teach me to be a brave man in the dark, and I have got to look after her until she can bear the heat of the sun, and he helps her to see, instead of blinding her" (462).

Watho is punished for her crimes but, unlike traditional fairy tales in which good and evil are polar opposites, this story does not condemn her as completely malevolent. We learn that "even the wicked themselves may be a link to join together the good" (462), hence the unresolved moral ambiguity about Watho. It is her cruelty that leads to the perfect union of Nycteris and Photogen in this world; their union is total because each completes the unnatural lack that Watho created in the other.

Photogen soon comes "to love the night best, because it is the mother and home of Nycteris," who "comes to love the day best because it was the clothing and crown of Photogen," and more strikingly because "she saw that the day was greater than the night, and the sun more lordly than the moon"(463). The marital hierarchy implied here seems to be a reversion to the Victorian conduct book standards that are subverted throughout the story. Yet Riga argues that this earthly complementarity and completion is a necessary precursor to the ultimate transfiguration in "Kingdom come" (129). The story's closing words make it clear that Nycteris's submission is not to Photogen, but to God, the ultimate patriarch to whom both must submit: "'But who knows,' Nycteris would say to Photogen, 'that when we go out, we shall not go into a day as much greater than your day as your day is greater than my night?'"

 

Works Cited

Avery, Gillian. "George MacDonald and the Victorian Fairy Tale." The Gold Thread: Essays on George MacDonald. Edinburgh: Edinburg UP, 1990. 126-139.

Honig, Edith Lazaros. Breaking the Angelic Image: Woman Power in Victorian Children's Fantasy. New York: Greenwood, 1988.

MacDonald, George. "The Day Boy and the Night Girl." Beyond the Looking Glass: Extraordinary Works of Fairy Tale and Fantasy, Novels and Stories from the Victorian Era. Ed. Jonathan Cott. London: Hart-Davis, 1974.

Manlove, Colin. "George MacDonald." Modern Fantasy. London: Cambridge UP, 1975. 55-98.

Marshall, Cynthia. "Allegory, Orthodoxy, Ambivalence: MacDonald's "The Day Boy and the Night Girl." Children's Literature 16 (1988): 57-75.

McGillis, Roderick. "Introduction." For the Childlike: George MacDonald's Fantasies for Children. Ed. Roderick McGillis. Methuen, NJ and London: Children's Lit. Assoc and Scarecrow, 1992. 1-15.

McKnight, Natalie. "Introduction." Suffering Mothers in Mid-Victorian Novels. London: Macmillan, 1997.1-21.

Poovey, Mary. "The Ideological Work of Gender. Uneven Developments: The Ideological Work of Gender in Mid-Victorian England. London: Virago Press, 1989. 1-23.

Prickett, Stephen. "George MacDonald and the Poetics of Realism." The Victorian Fantasists: Essays on Culture, Society and Belief in the Mythopoeic Fiction of the Victorian Age. Ed. Kath Filmer. London: Macmillan, 1991. 82-89.

-----. Victorian Fantasy. Bloomington & London: Indiana UP, 1979.

Raeper, William. George MacDonald. Tring: Lion, 1987.

Riga, Frank. "The Platonic Imagery of George MacDonald and C.S. Lewis: The Allegory of the Cave Transfigured." For the Childlike: George MacDonald's Fantasies for Children. Ed. Roderick McGillis. Methuen, NJ and London: Children's Lit. Assoc and Scarecrow, 1992.111-132.

Shuttleworth, Sally. "Demonic Mothers: Ideologies of bourgeois motherhood in the mid-Victorian era." Rewriting the Victorians: Theory, history and the politics of gender. Ed. Linda M. Shires. NY: Routledge, 1992. 31-51.

Zipes, Jack. Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion. NY: Routledge, 1983.

 

Linda Montag


Volume 7, Issue 1, The Looking Glass, January, 2003

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"Subversion and Recuperation of Gender Roles in George MacDonald's "The Day Boy and the Night Girl""
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