Mesmerism In Victorian Literature

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Women during the Victorian era in the 19th and 20th centuries were considered a lesser class. They had nonexistent social power and became part of their husband’s identities after they married. Women were not allowed to own property, vote, or have sexual relations out of marriage. Victorian women were expected to be the “Angel of the Household” who would take care of the family, keep the house clean, and not be seen. The social environment encouraged Victorian women to write ghost stories to criticize the treatment of women in society. These stories allowed women to have a voice in society and enabled them to write about otherwise taboo topics during that time. Due to the belief that there were invisible forces in the air, many people believed in a phenomenon called mesmerism where a skilled mesmerist could stare into the eyes of…show more content…
As Lisa is describing her encounter with Lewis Hurly, “her eyes began to burn and her fingers to thrum” (372), further emphasizing the emotional and physical control Lewis Hurly has over her. The description of her eyes as “burning” represents the passion she has for him and the power of his control over her. The eyes are also a crucial part of mesmerism as the mesmerist has to look into the eyes of the victim in order to control them. The eyes burning also further emphasizes that Lewis Hurly is controlling her thoughts or emotions at the time when she is telling her story to Margaret Calderwood. This is contrasted by how Lisa “folded her restless hands together meekly” when Margaret Calderwood is telling her story about Lewis Hurly. This expresses the calming influence of a motherly presence. Since the story, Lisa’s hands have almost been in constant motion, but as Margaret Calderwood speaks, Lisa’s hands stop moving. The influence of Margaret Calderwood is contrasts the influence of Lewis
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