The Transformation of Victorian Monsters: Wilkie Collins’ Heart and Science and

Gail Carriger’s Neo-Victorian ‘Parasol Protectorate’ Series

Melissa Purdue

Minnesota State University, Mankato

In nineteenth-century Gothic fiction, hybrid animal-human figures, such as werewolves, vampires and other supernatural creatures, are often expressions of repressed desires or societal fears. Characters fight to triumph over these monstrous figures and the cultural anxieties they represent. In this literature, the monstrous is often revealed when the human body collapses and is “reshapen across an astonishing range of morphic possibilities: into slug-men, snake-women, ape-men, beast-people, octopus-seal-men, beetle-women, dog-men, fungus-people” (Hurley 4). Yet, monstrous potential is also often found lurking inside humans. There are many “mad scientist” characters in nineteenth-century fiction who engage in questionable behavior. A well-known early example, of course, is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818). A hideous looking creature is animated through science, but the novel ultimately reveals Victor Frankenstein’s own (lack of) humanity and monstrosity. Neo-Victorian fiction plays with—and reimagines—such nineteenth-century Gothic tropes in important ways, and in Gail Carriger’s steampunk “Parasol Protectorate” series, for example, these figures function very differently.[1] Werewolves, vampires, and ghosts all live out in the open, with Queen Victoria herself sanctioning their place in society. Further, through their experiments, the mad scientists actively seek to destroy and kill these creatures. Rather than misguidedly attempting to advance science like Victor Frankenstein, Dr. Benjulia in Wilkie Collins’s Heart and Science (1882), or Dr. Moreau in H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), the neo-Victorian scientists actively seek to destroy what they perceive to be unnatural. These scientists are not solitary, eccentric geniuses unable to recognise their moral and ethical obligations to society; rather they are an organization of men who seek to secure their nations’ borders against contagion. Thus, Carriger rewrites and plays with nineteenth-century monstrous figures to comment upon monstrous behavior in contemporary society. This article looks back at animal-human monsters and mad scientists like Collins’s Dr. Benjulia from the Victorian period and traces how they are reimagined into characters designed to promote difference and inclusion in Carriger’s Neo-Victorian fiction.

Carriger builds an interesting alternative world in nineteenth-century London which she establishes in the first book in the series, Soulless (2009). As steampunk novels, the series “re-evaluates the historical impact of industry in the nineteenth century, rendering the Victorian period relevant to the present” (Nally 12). They also subvert “classic models of masculine and feminine, sexuality and performance” (Nally 13). As Carriger herself explains on her website, “I experience a gleeful joy when taking modern tropes, a strong urban fantasy heroine, barbaric alpha male, flamboyant San Francisco gay man, and making them play nice within an 1800’s British class system” (“Never ending”). Queen Victoria still reigns, proper social etiquette is expected,[2] and the British Empire is going strong;[3] however, vampires, werewolves, and ghosts no longer live in hiding and dirigibles float through the sky. Carriger infuses this world with a sense of humor and whimsy with steampunk details, such as Alexia’s parasol, which also doubles as a weapon,[4] and characters like Alexia’s best friend, Ivy Hisselpenny, who delights in ridiculous hats. There are rules governing the behavior of supernaturals maintained by BUR (the Bureau of Unnatural Registry) because, “[t]his was the nineteenth century, after all, and one simply did not attack unannounced and uninvited!” (Carriger 19). In this alternate world, some humans willingly live with and give blood to vampires (drones), while others (clavigers) make the conscious decision to become part of werewolf packs. Thus, some aspects of Victorian literature and history are preserved (key historical figures, class relations, etc.), but Carriger deviates from historical constructions of the monstrous.

The heroine of the series, Alexia Tarabotti, is a “New Woman” character. She is physically strong, outspoken, “revoltingly independent,” sexual, and is often referred to as a “bluestocking” (Carriger 32, 15). These descriptions of her echo late nineteenth-century descriptions of New Women as “wild women,” “the shrieking sisterhood,” and “revolting daughters” (Ledger 3). Alexia makes “no bones about enjoying food,” gives in to her sexual passions without shame, and is bored by her flighty and superficial mother and sisters who embrace more traditional feminine roles (Carriger 107). The narrator tells us that she is half Italian, and she enjoys the life of an independent upper-middle-class woman. In addition to possessing qualities associated with the Victorian New Woman, Alexia is considered “preternatural” because of her unique ability to neutralise the supernatural powers of vampires or werewolves through touch. Through Alexia’s character, Carriger plays with Victorian fears that further educational opportunities and independence for women might alter femininity for the worse. Consider Grant Allen’s arguments in “Plain Words on the Woman Question” (1889), for example. Allen argues that “an average of about six children per marriage (not per head of female inhabitants)” is necessary in order to keep the population stationary (211). Concerned primarily with the health of the nation, Allen further claims that “a woman ought to be ashamed to say she has no desire to become a wife and mother” (214). Allen feared that if women took on new career and educational opportunities they would become “unsexed” and that their prime duty to be mothers would be negatively impacted (214). Alexia’s “soulless” state becomes the humorous embodiment of these Victorian fears. In making the most progressive woman in her story literally “soulless,” Carriger makes a joke out of Victorian fears about the repercussions of aggressive femininity. As Cora Kaplan argues about neo-Victorian writing, it “includes the self-conscious rewriting of historical narratives to highlight the suppressed histories of gender and sexuality, race and empire, as well as challenges to the conventional understandings of the historical itself” (3). Indeed, Carriger does just that—she takes historical fears about gender and sexuality and rewrites them through Alexia’s character. In Carriger’s world, Alexia is no fainting or hysterical woman in distress; rather, she is a strong and capable heroine who takes on a powerful position in the government by the end of the first novel. As her eventual husband Lord Maccon asserts, “there was nothing worse than a timid woman” (Carriger 138).

At the heart of Victorian Gothic literature are questions about what constitutes the monstrous, fears about degeneration, and anxieties about the line between human and animal. Works like H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, Florence Marryat’s Blood of the Vampire (1897), Richard Marsh’s The Beetle (1897), Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan (1890), Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1872), and Clemence Housman’s The Were-Wolf (1896) all contain monsters that are hybrids—both human and inhuman in some way. As Kelly Hurley argues in The Gothic Body: Sexuality, Materialism, and Degeneration at the Fin de Siécle (2004), the Gothic genre speaks toanxieties about “the nature of human identity…an anxiety generated by scientific discourses, biological and sociomedical, which served to dismantle conventional notions of ‘the human’” (7). In Victorian texts the contrast between humans and non-human animals highlights divides between wild and civilised, and intellect and instinct. The border between animality and humanity must be patrolled for fear of contamination and degeneration. Those that fall in between are considered monstrous and “grotesque,” like the “bestial-looking creatures” in The Island of Dr. Moreau (Wells 37). In Carriger’s neo-victorian world, that boundary does not need preservation. Difference is embraced by all enlightened members of society, as we see reinforced with the marriage between Alexia and the werewolf Lord Maccon, which is sanctioned by Queen Victoria herself.

So, if human-animal monstrous hybrids were used to express British Victorian fears about degeneration, about racial “others,” and about women’s sexuality, how do neo-Victorian novels engage with this these figures? What, or who, is scary or monstrous in these novels? If a vampire is one of Alexia’s closest friends and her love interest is a werewolf, what does she fear? The answer lies in contemporary conceptions of progress and regression. In Carriger’s work, sexism, racism, and general bigotry are shown to be shocking and monstrous. The main threat to society in Soulless is a group of scientists who, rather than seeking to create or heal, want to destroy those who are different. Thus, Carriger uses the mad scientist trope established in nineteenth-century literature and alters it for modern audiences. Through horrific experiments that rival those of Dr. Moreau, Carriger’s scientists try to find a way to destroy werewolves, vampires, and any other characters of difference. As Mr. Siemons, the head scientist in this secret, rogue organisation explains: “Our goal is mobilization of research in order to secure the homeland from supernatural attack and covert infiltration… Our main scientific objective is to provide a framework of understanding that shall eventually lead to a unified national effort toward wide-scale extermination!” (Carriger 278-79). Or, as Alexia calls it, “supernatural genocide” (Carriger 279).

Here we see monstrosity is aligned with the rhetoric of nationalism today. Just as nineteenth-century Gothic fiction wrestled with Victorian fears of difference and change, so too does Neo-Victorian fiction reflect contemporary societal fears. As Saverio Tomaiuolo argues in Deviance in Neo-Victorian Culture: Canon, Transgression, Innovation (2018):

The neo-Victorian ‘project’ is much more than an uncensored version of Victorian culture, because in satisfying a certain interest in unknown, or lesser known, aspects of Victorianism, it proves that by rewriting the lives and vicissitudes of our ancestors it is possible to rediscover ourselves, and to acknowledge—at the same time—that the seeds of many of our anxieties and issues were planted in the nineteenth century (6).

Stereotypes and fears of non-British peoples are often expressed in nineteenth-century British fiction. In Carriger’s Neo-Victorian rewriting, however, these fears, which she makes clear are still with us today, are portrayed as highly problematic. Carriger’s scientists want to “secure the homeland” from “infiltration.” They want to, as Mr. Siemon blatantly tell us, preserve “the freedom of those who matter” (Carriger 279).

These sentiments echo those of today’s anti-immigration advocates. Consider President Trump’s claim from an October 22, 2018 rally in Houston, Texas, for example:

As we speak, the Democrat Party is openly encouraging millions of illegal aliens to break our laws, violate our borders and overwhelm our nation. That’s what’s happening. The Democrats have launched an assault on the sovereignty of our country, the security of our nation and the safety of every single American. (“Speech”)

Trump’s tweet from October 31, 2018 reinforces this rhetoric too: “Our military is being mobilized at the southern border. Many more troops coming. We will NOT let these caravans, which are also made up of some very bad thugs and gang members, into the U.S. Our border is sacred, must come in legally. TURN AROUND!” (@realDonaldrump)[5] This rhetoric is not unique to the United States, of course, something that the anti-immigration sentiments surrounding Brexit in the U.K. illustrate. Carriger taps into contemporary discourse about securing borders from infiltration. In Soulless these sentiments belong to an angry group of male scientists who seek to “prevent dangerous societal elements from fraudulently identifying themselves as normal” (Carriger 271). They are concerned with who belongs and who does not, and Alexia finds their mission repugnant: “‘I am beginning to understand,’ she said in a quiet, deadly voice, ‘who is the monster. What you are doing is farther from natural than vampires or werewolves could ever get. You are profaning creation’ (Carriger 316). Alexia proceeds to proclaim that it is the scientist Mr. Siemons “who is the abomination,” not the supernatural beings (Carriger 316). Monstrosity is no longer embodied by a psychic vampire of creole background as in Marryat’s Blood of the Vampire, or a shape-shifting Egyptian beetle threatening the heart of the empire as in Marsh’s novel; rather, monstrosity is demonstrated by those wish to exclude and harm characters of difference.

In their search for an antidote to the supernatural, these scientists do not think twice about experimenting on or torturing large numbers of werewolves and vampires. They even have no problem attempting to experiment on Alexia—a lady of some standing—because of her preternatural abilities. Science without ethical boundaries is a common theme in nineteenth-century British literature, and Carriger plays with it in her series. Wilkie Collins’s novel, Heart and Science (1882), is a fitting example of the repercussions of science gone astray. In it, Dr. Benjulia cruelly dissects animals and withholds treatment for the suffering heroine Carmina because he seeks to gain knowledge by watching her decline. He is portrayed as morally reprehensible for his treatment of animals and humans alike. Wells’s infamous Dr. Moreau is another example of the horror that can result from science practiced without morality. As he tells Prendick about his experiments, “To this day I have never troubled about the ethics of the matter” (Wells 66). Carriger uses this established Victorian trope and amplifies it.[6] Her scientists manipulate science with the end goal of eradicating a large portion of society. They attempt to weaponise science for mass-murder. It is their behavior, rather than that of vampires or werewolves, that is truly monstrous. Vampires sit down to tea with Alexia and werewolves protect her and save her from the scientists’ lab. In Carriger’s world, they are marked as civilized, while the close-minded scientists pose the greatest danger.

Similarly, in Collins’s Heart and Science, animals are voiceless victims, but in Carriger’s novel the human-animal hybrid characters are able to speak for themselves and fight back. They are portrayed as highly intelligent and often more compassionate than the “human” scientists. Thus, the neo-Victorian novel gives voice to those who are voiceless and powerless in Victorian novels. Consider the moment when one of Dr. Benjulia’s servants discovers the true nature of his experiments:

He hated himself for eating his master’s bread, and earning that master’s money.  . . the remembrance of the poor wounded dog, companionable and forgiving under cruel injustices, cut his heart like a knife. . . ‘I wish to God I could lame him, as he has lamed the dog!’ Another fanatic! another fool! (Collins 323)

The servant is full of anger but feels unable to fight back against his wealthy employer. The animals trapped in Benjulia’s lab are unable to fight back as well. In Carriger’s neo-Victorian fantastical world, however, the human-animal hybrid characters have agency and a voice and ultimately triumph over the violent scientists.

In Collins’s Heart and Science, debates about ethical behavior in scientific exploration are discussed at length. The pursuit of science ultimately removes the “heart” from certain characters—Dr. Benjulia and Mrs. Gallilee, in particular. We are told that Mrs. Gallilee’s “scientific education left her as completely in the dark, where questions of sentiment were concerned, as if her experience of humanity, in its relation to love, had been experience in the cannibal islands” (Collins 67). Mrs. Gallilee dissects plants instead of enjoying their beauty, and she interacts with her children without affection. As Steve Farmer points out, the pursuit of science changes her “over the course of the novel from a keen and calculating intellect into a paranoid psychopath who refuses to recognize her own son, her daughters, and even her kindly husband” (9). This degeneration of humanity is also explored more fully through Dr. Benjulia’s character.

Benjulia’s depravity is stressed from the first description of him: “He was so miserably—it might almost be said, so hideously—thin that his enemies spoke of him as ‘the living skeleton.’ His massive forehead, his great gloomy eyes, his protuberant cheek-bones, overhung a fleshless lower face naked of beard, whiskers, and moustache” (Collins 95). His skeletal form aligns him with death, foreshadowing his cruel treatment of animals and people later in the story. Even his interactions with his cook are quite telling. One night he becomes angry at waiting for his dinner and fires the “impudent hussy” who has spoiled his mutton (Collins 216). When the woman becomes angry at the mistreatment, Benjulia bursts into laughter: “At that laugh. . . the cook’s fury in its fiercest heat became frozen by terror. There was something superhuman in the doctor’s diabolical joy. Even he felt the wild horror in the woman’s eyes as they rested on him” (Collins 216). Benjulia considers her a possible case worth studying but when she ceases to interest him, he returns to his other work. Collins makes it clear that Dr. Benjulia’s experimentation on animals has hardened him to his fellow humans as well. A man capable of torturing non-human animals, the book implies, could easily progress to harming people.

Heart and Science also explores the fear that vivisection could be extended to include human subjects alongside animals. Like The Island of Dr. Moreau and Lewis Carroll’s “Some Popular Fallacies about Vivisection” (1875), Collins sees experimentation on animals as a slippery slope to experimentation on humans. We see this fear exposed when Benjulia observes and disturbingly tickles a young girl named Zo “with as serious an interest as if he had been conducting a medical experiment” (Collins 96). He is fascinated by the way she jerks and wiggles when he touches particular places along her spine.[7] She is part of the “heart” at the center of the novel, but to Benjulia, she is a particularly interesting subject to study. Later, Benjulia considers experimenting on his own brother as well. He stares at him while he is talking and thinks to himself, “I wish I had him on my table!” (Collins 187). The biggest victim of Benjulia’s “science” in the novel, however, is the heroine Carmina. When she falls ill, she becomes a source of fascination for Benjulia: “From that day, Carmina was destined to receive unknown honour: she was to take her place, along with the other animals, in his note-book of experiments” (Collins 280). Rather than treating her suffering, she becomes nothing more than an object of study to him like the animals in his lab. Like Dr. Raymond in Machen’s The Great God Pan, Dr. Benjulia feels no responsibility to his patient.[8]

Secrecy surrounds Dr. Benjulia and his laboratory, but the truth of what occurs there comes out in his conversation with his brother. Lemuel notes blood on Benjulia’s hands and questions him. Benjulia, with “unruffled composure” looks at “the horrid stains,” silently telling their tale of torture and responds, “What’s the use of washing my hands…when I am going back to my work?” (Collins 185). He and Lemuel proceed to have a lengthy discussion about the ethics of vivisection, and in frustration Benjulia eventually reveals, “I do it because I like it” (Collins 190). Rather than claiming a purely noble justification for his torture of animals, in an angry rant he admits that he kills partially in self-interest:

Am I working myself into my grave, in the medical interests of humanity? That for humanity! I am working for my own satisfaction—for my own pride—for my own unutterable pleasure in beating other men—for the fame that will keep my name living hundreds of years hence. . . Knowledge for its own sake, is the one god I worship (Collins 190).

His goals are to advance scientific knowledge and earn himself fame and praise in the process. His unfettered pursuit of knowledge is portrayed as contributing to his moral decline. He admits to his brother that his last experiments on a monkey horrified him, but that he did not stop. He tells Lemuel that the monkey’s “cries of suffering, his gestures of entreaty, were like the cries and gestures of a child” (Collins 191). He was tempted to put him “out of his misery,” but he pushed on despite his hands turning cold and his heart aching, “all for Knowledge! all for Knowledge!” (Collins 191). The conversation is too much for Lemuel, who leaves his brother’s house beginning to “believe in the devil” (Collins 191).

The fear of degeneration, either moral or physical, was a frequent topic in nineteenth-century fiction and non-fiction. Consider Edwin Ray Lankester’s arguments about it in his Degeneration: A Chapter in Darwinism (1880):

With regard to ourselves, the white races of Europe, the possibility of degeneration seems to be worth some consideration. In accordance with the tacit assumption of universal progress—an unreasoning optimism—we are accustomed to regard ourselves as necessarily progressing, as necessarily having arrived at a higher and more elaborated condition than that which our ancestors reached, and as destined to progress still further. On the other hand, it is well to remember that we are subject to the general laws of evolution, and are as likely to degenerate as to progress (4).

This fear that people (particularly “white races”) were “as likely to degenerate as to progress” propels the plots of many Gothic stories of the period. Prendick, in The Island of Dr. Moreau, for example, “degenerates” during his time on the island. He admits that “sometimes I would give way to wild outbursts of rage, and hack and splinter some unlucky tree in my intolerable vexation” (Wells 112). He transitions from a thinking and empathetic man to one who gives way to baser emotions and actions. Though Prendick views Moreau’s creations as “beasts” and “caricatures of humanity,” (53) Wells shows us that Moreau and Prendick are actually more frightening monsters through their own moral degeneration. Likewise, Collins concentrates on Dr. Benjulia’s moral degeneration throughout his novel.

Carriger engages with these fears through the construction of mad scientists who are directly aligned with the lack of humanity found in earlier nineteenth-century texts. She approaches “Victorians not simply as our ancestors, but also as our sometimes uncomfortable (and unforeseen) mirror-image” (Tomaiuolo 3). Just as Prendick overhears screams coming from Moreau’s lab and Benjulia’s servants hear moans of distress coming from his laboratory, so in Soulless too we encounter cries of pain coming from a lab. After her kidnapping Alexia is taken to a secret lab and describes her initial impressions:

At first the keening was so high in pitch she thought it might be sourced in one of the machines. She was not certain when she realized it came from a human throat, but the absolute knowledge of its origin hit her so hard she stumbled under the weight of it…She thought she had never before heard so pure a sound of pain (Carriger 281).

The cries of pain deeply disturb and shock her, but the scientists who hold her there against her will are clearly used to them. Like the nineteenth-century mad scientists before them, they have lost their humanity. Traditional Gothic monsters like werewolves and vampires are portrayed as sympathetic victims of the scientists’ greater evils—xenophobia and intolerance. Alexia is thrown into a cell with Lord Maccon, and “there she sat, flush against a werewolf, a man whom this kidnapper, this tormentor, thought of as an abomination,” but also a man “she realized with no surprise whatsoever, she loved” (Carriger 309). The traditional animal-like monsters are those who act with love and dignity in Carriger’s series, while the scientist Mr. Siemons slaps her and smiles “his tight little psychopathic smile” (Carriger 316).

Further, in order to set their evil plan in motion, the scientists create a monster of their own. They profane creation by making a “wax-faced man”—an automaton—with superhuman powers to enact violence on their behalf. This “alchemical,” “synthetic creature formed by science” also takes the place of usual Victorian monsters and is chilling in its mimicry of the human (Carriger 257). It does not think or feel, but mindlessly enacts violence at the command of its xenophobic creators: “It was like a wax copy of something not quite human, smooth and pale with no blemish, no scar, and no hair to speak of” (Carriger 103). Its eyes are blank and “expressionless” as though “nothing lived within the mind behind them,” and its “mouth was full of straight white squares, not teeth” (Carriger 103). The uncanny creation horrifies Alexia, and she cringes in disgust whenever it touches her (Carriger 313). Werewolves and vampires are described as still part of nature, while this creature is an abomination of science. It is the creature’s inability to think or act on its own that is particularly horrifying.

When this wax-man is finally killed, through the cooperation of a werewolf, a vampire, and a preternatural, his death scene interestingly mirrors scenes of degeneration in Victorian fiction like the death of Helen in Machen’s The Great God Pan or Ayesha in Haggard’s She (1887). In The Great God Pan, for example, Robert Matheson describes Helen’s dramatic death:

I saw the form waver from sex to sex, dividing itself from itself, and then again reunited. Then I saw the body descend to the beasts whence it ascended, and that which was on the heights go down to the depths, even to the abyss of all being. The principle of life, which makes organism, always remained, while the outward form changed…I watched, and at last I saw nothing but a substance as jelly (Machen 62). 

Likewise, the wax-man in Carriger’s novel seems to melt into a jelly-like substance:

Its skin began melting away in slow rivulets, like warm honey. Slow black blood mixed with some black particulate matter, leaked out and intermingled with the skin substance. Both slid off a mechanical skeletal structure. Soon, all that was left of the automaton was a metal frame wearing shabby clothing and lying in a  gooey puddle of old blood, wax, and small black particles (Carriger 334).

The dramatic scene of degeneration in Machen’s novella is mimicked here in the destruction of the non-human monster of Carriger’s novel. Yet, in Carriger’s novel the scene highlights the very man-made genesis of this creation. Helen is at least ascended from “beasts” and the “abyss of all being”—there is some connection to nature within her. The wax man’s skeleton, however, is mechanical and his internal organs “all gears and clockwork mechanisms” (Carriger 334). It is the man-made nature of his monstrosity that is highlighted, reflecting contemporary fears about technology and its misuse in the wrong hands.

Soulless concludes with a typically Victorian happy ending of marriage.[9] Alexia weds the werewolf Alpha Lord Maccon, her vampire friend Lord Akeldama recovers from his time being tortured in the scientists’ lab, and Alexia is appointed to a high position in a shadow government by Queen Victoria herself. Mr. Siemons is apprehended and Mr. MacDougall, the other scientist who believes supernatural abilities to be a pathogen or disease, is sent back to America where we are told he “married a veritable battle-ax of a woman and happily allowed himself to be bossed around for the remainder of his days” (Carriger 356). Anxieties are put to rest for a time, but readers are left wary of the violent, conservative underbelly of London society, opening the door for the four subsequent novels in the series.

Werewolves, vampires, mad scientists, and a “soulless” narrator redefine human and humane behavior in Carriger’s world. Alexia is Italian, many vampires are French, and Lord Akeldama and Biffy are homosexual. These are all markers of difference that would categorize these characters as suspect at best or degenerate at worst in a Victorian novel.[10] Yet, in Carriger’s neo-Victorian, steampunk world these characters are the heroes and the moral center of the story. They triumph over the mad scientists who embrace cruelty and fear “otherness.” As Marie-Luise Kohlke and Christian Gutleben argue in Neo-Victorian Gothic: Horror, Violence and Degeneration in the Re-Imagined Nineteenth Century (2012):

However excessive, however outrageous or mercantile, neo-Victorian Gothic’s interest remains its ethical determination to question norms, to value otherness, to nuance identity politics, to interrogate limits and boundaries, and to deconstruct Manichean distinctions—between good and evil, right and wrong, orthodoxy and heterodoxy, light and darkness, life and death and, perhaps most importantly, past and present (44).

Carriger encourages contemporary readers to question xenophobic behavior in their own world through her use of Victorian Gothic tropes, her exploration of Victorian prejudices, and her alterations to Victorian constructions of monstrosity. She invites readers to learn from the mistakes of the past while she entertains us with witty characters and steampunk inventions.

                                                      Works Cited

Allen, Grant. “Plain Words on the Woman Question (1889).” A New Woman Reader:  Fiction, Articles and Drama of the 1890s, edited by Carolyn Chistensen Nelson: Broadview, 2001, pp. 210-223.

Carriger, Gail. “Never Ending Interview.” Gail Carriger Personal Webpage.

—. Soulless. New York, Orbit. 2009.

Carroll, Lewis. “Some Popular Fallacies about Vivisection” (1875). <>

Collins, Wilkie. Heart and Science: A Story of Present Time. 1882. Broadview, 1996.

Farmer, Steve. Introduction. Heart and Science. New York: Broadview, 1996, pp. 7-27.

Gingrich, Newt. “Newt Gingrich: The caravan is an attack on America — Stop the caravan now.” Fox News. 19 Oct. 2018, <>

Hurley, Kelly. The Gothic Body: Sexuality, Materialism, and Degeneration at the Fin de Siécle. Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Kaplan, Cora. Victoriana: Histories, Fictions, Criticism. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2007.

Kohlke, Marie-Luise and Christian Gutleben. (eds) Neo-Victorian Gothic: Horror, Violence and Degeneration in the Re-Imagined Nineteenth Century. Rodopi, 2012.

Lankester, Edwin Ray. “Degeneration: A Chapter in Darwinism (1880).” The Fin de           

Siècle: A Reader in Cultural History 1880-1900, edited by Sally Ledger and Roger Luckhurst. Oxford University Press, 2000, pp. 3-5.

Lansbury, Carol. The Old Brown Dog: Women, Workers, and Vivisection in Edwardian England. Madison. University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.

Ledger, Sally. The New Woman: Fiction and Feminism at the fin de siècle. Manchester University Press, 1997.

Machen, Arthur. The Great God Pan. 1890. Dover, 2006.

Montz, Amy L. “‘In Which Parasols Prove Useful’: Neo-Victorian Rewriting of Victorian

Materiality.” Neo-Victorian Studies, vol. 4, no. 1, 2011, pp. 100-118.

Nally, Claire. Steampunk: Gender, Subculture and the Neo-Victorian. Bloomsbury, 2019.<>

Stratton, Jon. “The Language of Leaving: Brexit, the Second World War and Cultural Trauma.” Journal for Cultural Research, vol. 23, no. 3, 2019, pp. 225-251.

Tomaiuolo, Saverio. Deviance in Neo-Victorian Culture: Canon, Transgression, Innovation. Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Trump, Donald. Speech in Houston, Texas. October 22, 2018. Recording of speech can be found here:

—. @realDonaldTrump. “Our military is being mobilized at the Southern Border.” Twitter. 31 October, 2018. 12.45pm. <>

Wells, H.G. The Island of Dr. Moreau. 1896. Oxford University Press, 2017.

[1] Carriger’s “Parasol Protectorate” series includes Soulless (2009), Changeless (2010), Blameless (2010), Heartless (2011), and Timeless (2012). I concentrate on the first book in the series in this essay as it contains the organization of “mad scientists.”

[2] Consider an early scene in which Alexia is invited to a vampire’s home: “Countess Nadasdy served the tea. Miss Tarabotti took hers with milk, Miss Dair took hers with lemon, and the vampires took theirs with a dollop of blood, still warm and poured out of a crystal pitcher” (Carriger 91).

[3] Carriger’s series is built upon the idea that the British were able to build such an extensive empire through the assistance of supernaturals like vampires and werewolves. Supernaturals are allowed to live openly in peace in society in return for their help. Meanwhile, America is built by defectors: “The puritans left Queen Elizabeth’s England for the New World because the queen sanctioned the supernatural presence in the British Isle. The Colonies had been entirely backward ever since: religious figures in all their dealings with vampires, werewolves, and ghosts. It made America into a deeply superstitious place” (144). Carriger’s construction of Britain as the progressive place (instead of U.S.) works to rehabilitate the legacy of the British Empire. This would be an interesting aspect of the novel to explore, but it is beyond the bounds of this essay.

[4] Amy L. Montz points out in her article “‘In Which Parasols Prove Useful’: Neo-Victorian Rewriting of Victorian Materiality” that “Neo-Victorian literatures see the subversive potential in Victorian women’s fashion and, like their nineteenth-century predecessors, explore possibilities for agency and self-assertion inherent in clothing and its accessories” (108). Alexia’s parasol certainly functions in this way throughout the series as she uses it to protect herself on multiple occasions.

[5] Many others, of course, have echoed this rhetoric including Newt Gingrich in an October 19, 2018 Fox News article. He argued that the “caravan of about 4,000 migrants” was “attempting to invade and attack the U.S.” See also Jon Stratton’s “The Language of Leaving: Brexit, the Second World War and Cultural Trauma” for a more detailed discussion “anxieties focused around invasion, occupation and loss of sovereignty” in the British context (225).

[6] Carriger explains her decision to include mad scientists in her literature on her website: “In this aspect I was parodying Gothics like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which represented a switch from fear of religious monsters (for example, moral corruption like that in The Monk) to the demonization of science and the creatures it could produce. However, if you look at some of my other books you’ll realize that I myself am not entirely supportive of this demonization. It is not the science itself that is at fault, but a lack of ethical grounding. My real fear, and the thing my characters are always battling in society, is obsession. What’s bad about my evil scientists is not their science, but obsession with that science, allowing them to take it too far.” (Reference)

[7] For a discussion of the disturbing sexual nature of the interactions between Zo and Dr. Benjulia, see Carol Lansbury’s The Old Brown Dog: Women, Workers, and Vivisection in Edwardian England (date?).

[8] Beyond feeling no sympathy for Mary, Dr. Raymond feels entitled to experiment on her in The Great God Pan. He tells Clarke, “I rescued Mary from the gutter, and from almost certain starvation, when she was a child; I think her life is mine to use as I see fit” (Machen 12). He proceeds to cut a hole in her scalp.

[9] See the discussion of Alexia’s marriage in Claire Nally’s Steampunk: Gender, Subculture and the Neo-Victorian for an exploration of gender dynamics of the novel.

[10] Consider portrayals of the French Celine Varens in Jane Eyre, Laure in Middlemarch, Hortense in Bleak House, and Madame de la Rougierre in Uncle Silas. Further, Italy is a frequent setting in gothic literature, and we have negative portrayals homosexual characters in Carmilla and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Please follow and like us: