jueves, 16 de diciembre de 2010

Rose, Natalie. Flogging and fascination: Dickens and the fragile will


 No he podido resistirme a subir este artículo sobre los azotes y la obra de Dickens. En enero me toca exponerlo en cinco minutos a mis compañeros de clase. Debería ir con la vídeo cámara para grabar sus caras ^.^
Ya he sacado de la biblioteca David Copperfield para ver si de verdad tiene tanta chicha ^.^
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Rose, Natalie. Flogging and fascination: Dickens and the fragile will: Victorian Studies. Summer 2005, Vol 47 Issue 4: 505-533. Jstore. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3829644
Flogging and Fascination: Dickens and the Fragile Will
Natalie Rose
University of Toronto
"I tell you, Clara," said Mr. Murdstone, "I have been often flogged myself."
"To be sure; of course," said Miss Murdstone.
"Certainly, my dear Jane," faltered my mother, meekly. "But—but do you think it did Edward good?"
"Do you think it did Edward harm, Clara?" asked Mr. Murdstone, gravely.
"That's the point!" said his sister.

(54)
Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
In May 1850, Edward Vaughan Hyde Kenealy was sentenced to a month's imprisonment for assaulting his six-year-old illegitimate son, whose body was covered with bruises resulting, the surgeon surmised, from a rod or cane applied with "great violence" (qtd. in Mill, "Punishment" 1177). Commenting on the lenient sentence in The Sunday Times, John Stuart Mill asked why "the unbrutal part of the public—the part which does not sympathise with cruelty" should tolerate the flogging of children when the flogging of adults had become increasingly unacceptable ("Punishment" 1177). Like the brutal Murdstone in David Copperfield (1850), Kenealy's barrister, Mr. Whately, invoked a formative discourse of punishment, declaring that judge, jury, and counsel had all been flogged in their boyhood and were much the better for it (1178). In contrast, Mill argued that flogging was degrading and Whately's reasoning simply proved that his morals depended not on facts "but on other people's opinion" (1178). More recent accounts of Victorian flogging turn frequently to flagellant pornography in order to diagnose an enduring culture of flagellomania. Ian Gibson has suggested that this culture both "encourages sexual deviation" (309) and exemplifies Victorian hypocrisy, "sexuality masquerading as responsibility" (194), while Steven Marcus identified it as the upper classes' "last ditch compromise with and defense against homosexuality" (Marcus 260). Focusing on the relationships between discipline and self-discipline, the will and self-determination, this essay [End Page 505] approaches the topic from a related, but different perspective, to consider the kinds of manliness and the models of the self that flogging was seen to produce or threaten.
Dickens follows up on Murdstone's succinct account of his psychogenesis by suggesting that flogging need not produce a brutally firm Murdstone: it might also produce a suggestible and passive David Copperfield or Pip. Beginning with the flogged child in David Copperfield, the handling of a series of fascinated characters in Dickens's later novels encapsulates anxieties about the will and the fragility of autonomy and self-determination. The rhetoric of fascination in these works describes tenuously bounded selves whose volitional capabilities are too weak to withstand the psychic influence of other characters. Taking its cue from the Dickensian collocations of flogging and fascination, this essay juxtaposes discourses of formation and spectacle constructed in the arguments over corporal punishment with physiological discussions of the will in order to draw out one aspect of the ascetics of Victorian manliness delineated by James Eli Adams: the self-mastery of the subject. That a "self-regulating will seems absolutely normative in Victorian rhetorics of masculinity," as Adams notices, has much to do with its role in asserting the boundaries of the individual (209). Moreover, as ways to understand social interactions and interpersonal relationships, the discourses of flogging and fascination underscore the profoundly anti-social nature of Victorian repression as described by John Kucich. In this light, the persistent doubling of characters in Dickens's novels not only figures the disavowals and projections necessary to enclosing an ideologically "clean" subject, but also, more fundamentally, implies the difficulty of enclosing a discrete subject at all.
 I. Flogging
"Having been banished from court, and almost fallen into disuse in our criminal code," the birch, commented Chamber's Journal in 1857, "has found refuge in our great public schools, making Eton its headquarters" ("The Birch" 83). As William Collins Watterson has shown, the birch was a means of constructing aristocratic privilege, while John Chandos has shown that "the lore of the birch" was integral to the romance of the public school (227). In its less aristocratic incarnations of caning and whipping, flogging was also widely used in private schools and charity establishments.1 According to the psychologist [End Page 506] William Smith, writing in 1870, it was "in its nature a mode of education" (433). By administering "the sharp stimulant of the cane" to his idle pupil (434), the schoolmaster could secure "a better doing for the future" (435). The punishment was seen as a central means by which schools discharged their duty to "make good English boys, good future citizens" (63) as Thomas Hughes put it in Tom Brown's Schooldays (1856). In George Meredith's The Egoist (1879), Doctor Middleton sums up this allegiance to flogging in his paean to "Busby," the seventeenth-century headmaster of Westminster whose name became a synonym for the birch and flogging:
The birch! the birch! Boys of spirit commonly turn into solid men, and the solider the men the more surely do they vote for Busby. For me, I pray he may be immortal in Great Britain. Sea-air nor mountain-air is half so bracing. I venture to say that the power to take a licking is better worth having than the power to administer one....I will undertake without knowledge of their antecedents, to lay my finger on the men in public life who have not had early Busby. They are ill-balanced men. Their seat of reason is not a concrete. They won't take rough and smooth as they come. They make bad blood, can't forgive, sniff right and left for approbation, and are excited to anger if an east wind does not flatter them. Why, sir, when they have grown to be seniors, you find these men mixed up with the nonsense of their youth; you see they are unthr[a]shed. We English beat the world because we take a licking well.
(80–81)
Flogging, according to Middleton, produces equable, firm, self- contained, self-assured men; it gives definition to the imperial Englishman. "There was many a man did his duty at Waterloo that had been well flogged in his youth," commented John Eagles: "Flogging was a kind of smart-money, deposited as surety for future good behaviour" (68). Here, the punishment is constructed as a productive practice, a way "to be made a man of" (Payn 99).
In many fictional representations, flogging bears the cultural weight of converting savage boyhood into civilized manliness. According to such fathers and father figures as Theobald Pontifex in Samuel Butler's The Way of All Flesh (1903) and Murdstone in Dickens's David Copperfield, it was supposed to root out self-will and teach self- control. "Beat the nonsense out of them" was the common refrain in what Punch attacked as "a cant of manly roughness" (Payn 98; "Example" 213). Hughes describes a boy flogged for being a bully; years afterwards, he seeks out his flogger, "and thanked him, saying it had been the kindest act which had ever been done upon him, and the [End Page 507] turning-point in his character; and a very good fellow he became, and a credit to his School" (211).
The idea that external discipline elicits the self-discipline of moral manliness addresses a central problematic of the self summarized by John Reed: "Either the self was coherent and directed from within, or it lacked integrity and depended on external energy" (24). Frequently, arguments over free will turn to the subject of flogging. Determinist and necessarian theorists routinely had to defend themselves from charges that they obviated the issue of moral responsibility and hence the whole system of punishment, charges made with renewed force in opposition to Alexander Bain's physiological psychology. In his critique of the materialist argument that the will was a faculty of the brain, H. E. Manning declared: "we should flog a boy who accused his brain of his false concords and false quantities" (478). For Manning, flogging exemplifies a collaborative model of education in which the child's will "co-operates with and gives effect to the will of others" (477). But in shaping character, flogging was also entirely compatible with the necessarian model of the will theorized by Alexander Bain as the effect of preponderating motives. Punishment, according to Bain, amounted to "one-half of the motive power to virtue" (405), while a writer for the Westminster Review registered it as an endeavour "to act upon the offender's will" ("Free-Will" 456). As the Unitarian commentator James Martineau recognized in 1888, flogging on this account was integral to a "calculus of discipline" (Study 296). Through the "prize and rod," the "will can be moulded...to take the form, intellectually, of accomplishment and art, and ethically, of self- restraint and sympathy," contributing to "the formation and control of character" (296). Martineau was highly critical of this model of the self, and, by extension, of amoral and "remedial" discipline, which was "directed to overcome internal resistance" rather than "relying on internal support" (297). Punishment, he insisted, reinforced the inherent moral qualities of the child's will as an external confirmation of "inward conscience" and "internal and self-administered justice,... the great powers of character, the supreme directors of life" (298–99). Both libertarians and necessarians understood the will (free or not) to be the bedrock of character and the moral individual, and believed that it required grooming. Flogging enacts the Victorian understanding of freedom of will achieved through the dutiful "subordination of self to some higher purpose," whether social or religious (Reed 157). [End Page 508]
This particularly Victorian validation of self-control entwines submission with agency. In the early decades of the century, floggings could have the character of "ritual comedy" as the boys made as much noise as possible and devised tricks to shock their masters and amuse their comrades (Chandos 226–28), but such carnivalesque dissent did not survive. From mid-century, as Lucy Bending has shown, the proper response to physical pain was silence. Stories such as Frederick Farrar's Eric; or Little by Little (1858) use flogging as a moral marker: the good sorts take their punishments silently, while bullies reveal their cowardly nature, as flogging cuts through the social exterior to reveal the core of one's character (see also Bending 243). In Eric, the evil Brigson, an "ulcer" corrupting his fellow pupils (251), loses "every particle of self- control" when he is beaten (254): "At the first stroke he writhed and yelled; at the second he retreated, twisting like a serpent, and blubbering like a baby; at the third he flung himself on his knees, and, as the strokes fell fast, clasped Mr. Rose's arm, and implored and besought for mercy" (254). He is a "coward, who cannot even endure his richly- merited punishment" (255). In contrast, "No other boy cried or even winced" (255). At schools like Marlborough, crying out in pain earned even more stripes to teach proper manly endurance (Mangan 151). In Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford (1853), Peter Jenkyns is flogged for publicly parading in his sister Deborah's clothes; as Miss Matty recounts it, the punishment is a moment of masculine formation. Peter stands "as still as a statue to be flogged; and my father struck hard! When my father stopped to take breath, Peter said, 'Have you done enough, sir?' quite hoarsely, and still standing quite quiet" (53). When the flogging is over, he makes a low bow "as grand and as grave as any gentleman" to the people watching, and he comes into the house "looking as haughty as any man—indeed looking like a man, not like a boy" (53). The models for the kind of self-control taught through endurance derive from a Christian tradition of individual suffering that enables agency, and an aristocratic tradition of hardiness that bolsters emergent middle-class forms of more sympathetic masculinity. By eliciting silent self-control, flogging presents the schoolboy as an active participant in the event: he becomes the nascent masculine subject as he "does" rather than "suffers."
Where depictions of schoolboy flogging emphasize the child's will, representations of the flogged soldier, sailor, or slave focus on the spectacular exercise of despotic and cruel power over passive beings. In [End Page 509] the wake of the anti-slavery movement, there was sustained debate over the use of flogging as a punishment in the army and navy. The public was roused by a series of scandals, the most famous of which was the death in 1846 of Private John Frederick White after he had received 150 lashes at the Hounslow Barracks. At the coroner's inquest the jury repeatedly labelled the punishment "severe and cruel," and recommended the abolition of such a "slur upon the humanity and fair name of the people of this country" (qtd. in Hounslow 10). In anti-flogging discourses, such as that typified by John Gardner's Appeal (1832), the punishment is usually labelled "savage," "brutalizing," and "scandalous," and depicted as a barbarous anomaly in a putatively civilized, Christian society (5).2 Reformers used progressivist arguments to cast flogging as barbaric and to appeal to England as the acme of civilization in the post-emancipation era. "Necessity," commented the M. P. John Bowring in moving an amendment to abolish flogging in the army, "has always been used as a justification by tyrants, even for the slave trade, and 1,500 lashes" (qtd. in Hostettler 119).
Concomitantly, reformers like Gardner and Lord Nugent asserted that flogging was an inappropriate punishment for the freeborn, rational Englishman used to the civil liberties of his native land, because it worked to erase his will (Gardner 9). As Saidiya V. Hartman notes in her racial history of the self-possessed liberal individual, the whip connoted not only the violence of American slavery but also "the will-lessness of those compelled to labor and without choice" (140). Anti-flogging campaigners wrote graphic accounts of the extreme pain suffered by flogged slaves, soldiers, and sailors (Halttunen 320), producing and reproducing the spectacle of the cruel sufferings of abject victims, and accentuating the humiliation and objectification of the victim's body. By the 1860s, reformers simply alluded to "the brutally disgusting scene" ("Cat" 398) or "the horrible scene of bloodshed" as they proclaimed the disgrace of an unmanning punishment ("Court-Martial" 424).
In these arguments the punishment not only elides but also threatens self-control. "What is the usual effect of corporal punishment on the soldier?" asked Frederick Hardman: "Does it make or mar him, improve his character and correct his vices, or render him more reckless and abandoned than before? The conscientious answer would be, we are persuaded, that seldom is a good soldier made of a flogged man" (134). Harrowing tales were recounted of decent men who were flogged for [End Page 510] crimes they did not commit, turned to drink to deal with their shame, and died shortly afterwards. "A flogged man," concluded the author of "The Cat O' Nine Tails," "is a lost man" (396); a sentiment with which Malcolm Meason agreed, declaring "Flogging makes a good man bad, and a bad man worse" (491). Penal reformers made similar arguments,3 citing evidence that men who had been whipped tended rapidly to re- offend, because, as Member of Parliament J. Smith put it, "after a wretched individual has received so public and indelible a disgrace as that of flogging, it was quite clear that no decent individual would associate with him, and that no respectable person would employ him" (qtd. in Collinson 3). In the public school, flogging inflicted "an indelible hallmark, stamping the sufferer for ever as genuine metal" (Leslie Stephen qtd. in Chandos 246); in the army and navy the most terrible implication of flogging was that the stripes were "ineffaceable," suggested Hardman (134), "stamp[ing] the indelible brand of infamy on men the soul of whose profession should be a feeling of honour" (133).
Alexander Somerville, in the influential account of the hundred lashes he received while a private in the army, proclaims the manly way he takes his stripes in order to criticize the army's cowardly and insidious use of flogging. It is degrading, he argues, because soldiers are expected "to humble themselves and make piteous pleas for forgiveness. If a soldier of manly dignity omits to perform this dog- like cringing, and does not whine and beg to be forgiven, he is looked upon without favour, it may be with enmity....[The commanding officer] expected me to beg, implore, and whine and be unlike a man" (184). Somerville describes the excruciating pain he suffered and the costs of his "firmness": "I detected myself once giving something like a groan, and to prevent its utterance again, I put my tongue between my teeth, held it there, and bit it almost in two pieces. What with the blood from my tongue, and my lips, which I had also bitten, and the blood from my lungs, or some other internal part ruptured by the writhing agony, I was almost choked, and became black in the face" (189). Indeed, "Men who cry out, suffer less than those who do not," Somerville claims, because crying out affords physical relief as well as a possible remission of part of the sentence (184). After securing his discharge from the army, Somerville found himself lionized in part because it was recognized that "I had suffered the most cruel and excruciating punishment which can be inflicted on the human body, with a firmness and propriety of bearing" (230). By asserting his willed self-control, [End Page 511] Somerville triumphs over the threat martial flogging poses to manly self-determination, and his "manly dignity" counters the use of flogging to enforce hierarchy.
Against the views of the judiciary, which sanctioned for children "a punishment which is brutalising and degrading to grown men," Mill argued that "there is no difference of nature between grown persons and boys....If the boy has no consciousness of his degradation the worse for him: it is proof that his character is irreclaimably imbued with it" ("Punishment" 1178). Thomas Arnold, one of the most influential defenders of flogging in schools, supported the punishment precisely because it was degrading, and because he saw boyhood and manhood as morally distinct. "At an age when it is almost impossible to find, where is the wisdom of encouraging a fantastic sense of the degradation of personal correction? What can be more false, or more adverse to the simplicity, sobriety, and humbleness of mind which are the best ornament of youth, and offer the best promise of noble manhood?" (Arnold 368). For the Rugby headmaster, flogging was a practice that could distinguish boyhood from manhood:
It is very essential towards impressing on a boy's mind the natural imperfectness and subordination of his condition, that his faults and the state of his character being different from what they are in after life, so the nature of his punishment should be different also, lest by any means he should unite the pride and self-importance of manhood with a boy's moral carelessness and low notion of moral responsibility.
(368–69)
Arnold's foundational justification for the flogging of schoolboys was their patent inferiority to their parents and masters (365); the "proud notion of personal independence," he argued, "is neither reasonable nor Christian" (365). He refused to countenance "that barbarian pride which claims the treatment of a freeman and an equal, while it cherishes all the carelessness, the folly, and the low and selfish principle of a slave" (369). Becoming a man therefore meant avoiding flogging: one should "cherish and encourage to the utmost all attempts made by the several boys as individuals to escape from the natural punishment of their age by rising above its naturally low tone of principle" (369). Arnold's construction of flogging as unmanly is central to his efforts to redefine manliness as a moral state rather than a function of age; "floggable" behavior is distinguished from an evangelical notion of manliness, which Arnold describes as "a true, manly sense of the [End Page 512] degradation of guilt or faults" and the "capab[ility] of being influenced by moral motives" (368, 367). Any pupil, regardless of his age, may be flogged, since "the respectability and immunities of manhood must be earned by manly conduct and a manly sense of duty" (370). The idea that flogging punishes unmanly behaviour was extremely powerful, resurfacing notably in the calls throughout the 1850s and 1860s for flogging to be introduced to punish what F. W. Newman deemed the "dastardly offences against the weak and the weaker sex," such as seduction (165–66).4
In Eric, Farrar endorses Arnold's precepts by flirting with the potentially deformative effects of the punishment. Eric is subject to a series of floggings because, it would appear, the punishment does little to groom his self-control. From his first experience of the cane, he feels the "intolerable" "disgrace" of this "most degrading corporal punishment," but it only reinforces his "angry and impenitent" feelings (62). Flogging, "however necessary and desirable for some dispositions, always produced on Eric the worst effects. He burned, not with remorse or regret, but with shame and violent indignation" (112). As Eric determines "with obstinate perversity" to ignore his headmaster's advice (112), Farrar suggests that the punishment may strengthen the boy's self-will. Only later does it exert any formative influence when Eric and a friend bear their flogging "in a manly and penitent way, and set themselves with all their might to repair the injury which their characters had received" (311). Learning the appropriate code of character formation and acceding to the refashioning of one's will, Farrar suggests, is the first step to moral reformation and Christian manliness.
The discourses of shame and spectacle could, however, provide an explosive critique of schoolboy flogging, which was sometimes impugned for "the impropriety and indecorum of the exhibition" (Lewis 77). In 1856, Morgan Thomas instructed his eighteen-year-old son Dalrymple, who was a pupil at Eton, that he should under no circumstances permit himself to be flogged. When Dalrymple was caught smoking, he refused to be punished and was consequently expelled; Thomas then sent copies of his correspondence with his son and the Eton authorities to the Coventry Herald and The Times. "Be on your guard how you expose yourself on the whipping-block," he wrote to his son, [End Page 513]
It is fitting for the felon, but does not become a gentleman....[Do not] permit any one so to insult you and common decency....Up to a certain age, flogging may be tolerated; but when the child approaches the period of manhood, such a mode of punishment is revolting to every mind which is capable of being actuated by manly and correct feelings.
(qtd. in "The Birch" 83)
Thomas subverts the Arnoldian terms of the debate by detaching the moral notion of manliness from flogging on the grounds of decency.5 Emerging perceptions about the decorum of the male body were bringing the aristocratic, theatrical tradition of flogging into question.6 Chamber's Magazine, which reprinted extracts of Thomas's letter to Dalrymple, clarified for those not in the know (but knowing Latin) that "this is the modern birch—young men of eighteen, nineteen, and even twenty years of age, flogged supra dorsum nudum by the head-master of the school" ("The Birch" 83). Thomas was outraged. "The road of their naked bottoms" was not, he declared, the road to honor (qtd. in Gibson 109), and Punch commented that it was "disgusting to everybody... that can be disgusted by anything" ("Example" 213). Flogging at public schools was a public event, and as Chandos points out, public schoolboys were familiar with the sight of one another's nudity (229). Thomas implicitly raises this question: at what point does the male body cease being simply a conduit to the unruly will of the child and instead become a spectacle in its own right? The issue draws attention to the kinds of voyeurism that might accompany the spectacle of flogging. "Why," Thomas asked, "do the boys crowd round to see a 'big fellow'—an adult— flogged?" (qtd. in Gibson 108). He dismissed, however, "the thought that the Masters of Eton can take any pleasure in these unnatural exposures" (qtd. in Gibson 111). If commentators frequently noted that flogging often failed to produce "disciplined behaviour" (Buckley 378–79), Thomas's allusions to the homoerotic dynamics of flogging question whether the punishment itself constituted disciplined behavior.7
II. The Will and Fascination
The debates about whether flogging makes or unmakes manliness, and whether it secures or threatens the individual's self-control, center on the relationship between discipline, the will, and the self. As Reed has shown, the concept of the will underwrote nineteenth-century ideas of progress, evolution, and civilization. More self-controlled than his savage ancestors and with more "inquisitive originality" than the [End Page 514] tribesman driven by custom and superstition (Bagehot 148), "the modern Christian Englishman stood," according to Reed, "at the pinnacle of progress because he represented the highest development of will" (83–84). In particular, both secular and religious writers were heavily invested in the connection between self-control and self- determination. Running through the wide-ranging metaphysical and physiological discussions of the self is a model of the will that not only controls "inward fluctuations" and the "anarchies of impulse" but also mediates between the individual and "the play of surrounding influences" (Martineau, Study 106, 107, 106). If influence is, as Robert Douglas-Fairhurst describes it, "unstably situated between ideas of action and reaction, the effects of X upon Y and the simultaneous reshaping of Y by X" (92), it becomes a dialogical process only when Y's will supervises the traffic across his psychic borders. As the guarantor of autonomy, the will secures the very boundaries of the self.
One strand of Mill's argument in On Liberty counters the social conformity he decries with the full gamut of synonyms for the willed states that distinguish man from animal and from machine. He who does not "choose," "reason," "discriminate," "decide," and use "firmness and self-control to hold to his deliberate decision" (65) or display "great energies guided by vigorous reason, and strong feelings strongly controlled by a conscientious will" (77), but instead "lets the world, or his own portion of it, choose his plan of life for him, has no need of any other faculty than the ape-like one of imitation" (65). In Mill's mechanistic simile, "One whose desires and impulses are not his own, has no character, no more than a steam-engine has a character" (67). While this line of argument may manifest what Martineau called an "excessive appreciation of 'individuality'" ("John" 518), Mill was not solely concerned with social uniformity. As the account of his mental crisis in his Autobiography makes clear, the issues of the will and self-determination were deeply personal. In an early draft he complained:
To have been through childhood, under the constant rule of a strong will, certainly is not favourable to strength of will. I was so much accustomed to expect to be told what to do, either in the form of direct command or of rebuke for not doing it, that I acquired a habit of leaving my responsibility as a moral agent to rest on my father, my conscience never speaking to me except in his voice....I thus acquired a habit of backwardness, of waiting to follow the lead of others, an absence of moral spontaneity, an inactivity of the moral sense and even to a large extent, of the intellect, unless roused by the appeal of some one else.
(Rejected 613) [End Page 515]
Mill's anxiety about the moral passivity that follows from a weak will resonates with Martineau's theistic understanding of the will as the instrument of "personal causality" (Study 106). For Martineau, self- determination is opposed to moral evil, which begins when
instead of self-assertion there is a self-abandonment to the chance pressure of the moment, and the mind may be turned hither or thither by skilfully playing on the instinctive springs. Thus, neglect and misuse entail an internal dying away of Will, till the possibility of self-determination practically vanishes, the moral life is to all intents and purposes expunged, and the human constitution reverts to the simply zoological.
(107)
The divine faculty of the will must be "rightly directed," initially through "compulsion," to ensure that man is not "the passive resultant of forces without and instincts within" (106, 129, 182), and that he becomes more than an animal.
Physiologists such as William Benjamin Carpenter countered materialist theories of the self by showing that man "really possesses a self-determining power" (Principles 549):
In so far as the course of [man's] thoughts and feelings is the mere result of the action of external impressions upon an organization having certain respondent tendencies, must he be considered as irresponsible for his actions, his character being formed for him instead of by him: but in so far as he can exert a Volitional power of directing his thoughts and controlling his feelings, may he rise superior to circumstances, make the most advantageous use of the Intellectual faculties with which he may be endowed, and bring his Moral character more and more into accordance with the highest type which his nature may be capable of attaining in its present sphere of existence....[T]here is no ground to believe that [the lower animals] have any such controlling power; on the contrary, all observation seems to lead to the conclusion, that they are under the complete domination of the ideas and emotions by which they may be for the time possessed, and have no power either of repressing these by a forcible act of Will, or of turning the attention, by a like voluntary effort, into another channel.
(Principles 440–41)
Manning followed Carpenter's explanation to defend free will, arguing that the powers of attention and intention distinguished "the Willer... from the thinking brain" (472). Memories, associations, or "the direct suggestion of others" are "spontaneous or involuntary" (475); as "fascination[s]" or "attraction[s]" they are amoral because "the will has not accepted them" (476). "The agent, through the deliberate will," concluded Manning, "makes the thought his own" (476). [End Page 516]
The theists' bête-noir, Mill's disciple Bain, also asserted the "power of the Will" to direct trains of thought by way of the "command of Attention" (158, 342). Bain understood the will to be the "uniform connexion" between motives and action (404) rather than an independent faculty, and he therefore referred the everyday notions of choice, deliberation, and self-determination to the "greatest attraction" of one of competing motives (400). For Bain, self-determination is a matter of disciplining the moral habits so that "ideal or permanent motives" such as "Courage, Fortitude, Command of Temper" (402, 385) would outweigh "undue susceptibility" to "temporary solicitations" (364, 402). Implicit in this theory, as one reviewer pointed out, is the idea that "the essence of the individual [is] vested in the permanent motives (which attain such permanence because they are in unison with the necessities of social life)" ("Free-Will" 457). The occasional motives are "outsiders, with whom the individual proper is at variance" ("Free-Will" 457). Thus while Bain was clear that "there is no intervening entity to determine whether the motive shall bring forth the act; a motive may be arrested, but only through the might of a stronger" (363), his moral theory sets internal resolution against what James Sully described as "immediately present external circumstances" (86). The Catholic writer W. G. Ward sought to short-circuit Bain's account of motives by asserting that through "manly self-restraint" the subject could always resist the "preponderating spontaneous impulse" or motive ("Appendix" 164; "Free" 285); manliness itself consists in the action of the will. Ward focuses on the deterministic implications of Bain's vocabulary of attraction: the necessarian motive is simply "the attraction which allures (and infallibly determines) me to do what I do" ("Free" 284n), and the strongest motive is "that which fascinates the will most powerfully" ("Appendix" 160). But our will, Ward asserts, can always "resolve" to reject "fascination" ("Appendix" 164).
In various ways, therefore, the will was understood to fend off states of susceptibility, suggestibility, and fascination. Carpenter entered a caveat to Manning's equation of the will with attention by noting that attention might be "purely automatic," for the will is not operative when we are "'attracted,' 'seized,' 'fascinated,' or 'engrossed'" ("Physiology" 200). He undertook an examination of various altered states in which the subjects "may really be considered...as mere thinking automata, puppets pulled by directing-strings" in order to prove the "directing power of the will" [End Page 517] under "normal" conditions (Principles 549). Citing the experiments in hypnotism and mesmerism of James Braid and J. F. Ferrier, he explained that when a subject's will is "in abeyance, all his mental operations are directed by [external] suggestions" ("Electro-Biology" 511). He concluded, "It is, in fact, the virtue of the Will, that we are not mere thinking automata, mere puppets to be pulled by suggesting-strings, capable of being played-upon by every one who shall have made himself master of our springs of action" (Principles 554). Those with a limited facility for exercising their will resembled in relative degree the "biologised" or "mesmerised" automata. By mid-century physiologists, including Carpenter, began to refine the notion of the will to anchor a new construction of the individual as "a free agent" (Principles 554). It was therefore crucial, these physiologists asserted, that in the education of children "the development of the faculty of 'self-control' should be a leading object," "that power by which each individual becomes the director of his own conduct, the arbiter of his own destinies" (Carpenter, Principles 441, 550).
III. Dickensian Discipline
In David Copperfield, Great Expectations (1861), and Our Mutual Friend (1865), Dickens develops a rhetoric of fascination to describe dynamics of interpersonal influence and the difficulties of asserting individual identity. Fred Kaplan has detailed the ways in which Dickens used mesmerism as "a tool to explore the nature of the self as a concept and as an active force in determining personality and human relationships" (109). He became an enthusiastic mesmerizer of his family and friends, but he would not consent to be mesmerized, "born as he was to be an operator rather than a subject," Kaplan reasons (65).
He felt himself a gifted individual, possessing the ability to focus and transmit [will power]. His own will was indisputable, verging on the tenacity of a stubbornness so extreme as to be an act of constant self-definition. In his life he constantly expanded his capacity for energy and control....For the quality and achievement of a man are inseparable from the degree of will within him, his capacity to rouse himself into dominating action.
(167)
Many characters in Dickens's later fiction are, in contrast, less sure of themselves, will-less like Arthur Clenman, characterless like David Copperfield, passive like Pip, drifting like Eugene Wrayburn, or fixated [End Page 518] like Bradley Headstone. Yet while self-definition is hard to come by, dominating action is not precisely a Dickensian virtue since it is rarely attractive and does not necessarily bespeak self-control. Following John Kucich's argument that repression does not validate "nerveless conformity to moral rules" but "is a sign of deeper resources of subjectivity" (269), the threats posed by characters such as Steerforth, Uriah Heep, or John Jasper can be seen to consist in not only their immorality, but also in the fact that they cannot keep themselves to themselves: they overflow individual boundaries, their excess the obverse of fascination.
In David Copperfield, flogging is an important node in the social circulation of fascination as Dickens implicates the punishment in the evisceration of the will of both the flogger and his victim. Murdstone regards David as an animal to be beaten into submission: "If I have an obstinate horse or dog to deal with, what do you think I do?...I beat him....I make him wince, and smart. I say to myself, 'I'll conquer that fellow'; and if it were to cost him all the blood he had, I should do it" (43). Murdstone's philosophy of flogging appears to exemplify Martineau's critique of necessarian education as
perfectly analogous to the skill of the beast-tamer, who, by adroit use of the nose- ring and the lash, the threatening or the coaxing voice, knows how to break in the wild animal's humour and reduce it to docility. The highest institutions of society are thus but an engine of management, playing upon the weaknesses of the creatures ruled, and so applied by its cooler and more diplomatic heads as to produce surprising results of civilization in the least promising subjects.
(Study 297)
The grimness of life with the Murdstones has indeed made David "sullen, dull, and dogged" (52), but, instead of disciplining an animalistic child, the beating reduces David to a dog, and he bites into Murdstone's hand. At Salem House, David sees a placard bearing the legend, "Take care of him. He bites" (74). Looking around for the dog it describes, he discovers it is destined for his own back. Only the kindly Mr. Mell distinguishes between categories ("that's not a dog. That's a boy" [75]), but they become confused as Mr. Creakle's violent regime of frequent floggings makes the boys into "miserable little dogs" laughing at the humiliation of others (86). When they set about Mr. Mell, they do so like "ten thousand dogs" (91). The formation is complete: back at Blunderstone for the holidays, David relates how Murdstone "ordered me like a dog, and I obeyed like a dog" (114). [End Page 519]
Of course, Murdstone hardly resembles one of Martineau's "cooler and more diplomatic heads." Dickens depicts an ongoing chain of brutality within which flogging makes boys into dogs rather than men, and the men who flog are themselves dog-like. David associates Murdstone with the dog he brings to live in the Rookery kennel, "deep- mouthed and black-haired like Him—and he was very angry at the sight of me, and sprung out to get at me" (41), and Creakle, "an incapable brute" (85), claims that he is as "famous for biting" as David (85). Dickens extracts flogging from the institutional context of impersonal punishment: assiduity with the whip results less from reasoned argument about the benefits of punishment than from base, animal drives. Murdstone's competition with David for Clara spurs him to assert his physical superiority over the boy, and when David bites him, he appears to lose all control. "He beat me then," David writes, "as if he would have beaten me to death" (55). Creakle is a sadist who flogs for sheer pleasure: "he had a delight in cutting at the boys, which was like the satisfaction of a craving appetite" (85). David confidently believes that Creakle "couldn't resist a chubby boy, especially; that there was a fascination in such a subject, which made him restless in his mind, until he had scored and marked him for the day" (85). Fascination represents paedophilic sadism, diagnosing the objectification of the male body in anti-flogging arguments as a function of failed self-control. As Traddles's skeleton drawings confirm, Creakle's canings are about carnality, not character. Midway through the novel David conceives that he must "turn the painful discipline of my younger days to account" (505), but in suffusing flogging with animalism, David Copperfield associates this particularly painful aspect of discipline with the loss of self-control.8
If flogging itself is an act of fascination, Dickens further suggests that it produces not character but characterless susceptibility, as David proves in constant danger of being psychically overwhelmed by other characters. The Murdstones combine flogging with a paralyzing influence like "the fascination of two snakes on a wretched young bird" that ensures that David learns nothing (52). The stultifying effects of tyrannical power are also in evidence at Salem House. David is drawn to gaze at Creakle's fascinating eye, not from volition "but because I am morbidly attracted to it" (86). "I sit...watching his eye," "eyeing him," "my eye on Mr. Creakle," writes David, and even when Creakle is not visible, "my eye [is] still fascinated by him," and "I eye" the window that stands for him instead (86). The insistent commuting between David's [End Page 520] eye and Creakle's eye, between David's I and Creakle's eye, establishes the instability of David's identity later elaborated through his relationships with Steerforth, Heep, and Dora.
These relationships, like that between Pip and Estella, are formed through fascination. David confesses himself to be "entranced" by Steerforth (292), and from their first meeting, he is unable to resist Steerforth's will, displayed in the form of "friendly suggestion" (81); it is simply "irresistible" (289). Mr. Mell describes this will as "the power you can establish over any mind here" (92), a noxious schoolboy influence that worried teachers and moralists from Arnold and Farrar to Samuel Smiles. Steerforth's power over David is comically rendered in the drunken scenes of David's "First Dissipation" (ch. 24) when, having drunk several bottles of wine, David can do little more than pay homage to his friend, slurring, "(in two words): 'Steerforthyou'retheguidingstarofmyexist ence'" (352). The unstoppable will meets an extremely malleable object and, as Miss Mowcher recognizes, David is "soft wax in [Steerforth's] hands" (451). Where Steerforth is "so self-possessed" (283), David's self-possession is negligible. It is indeed, as Steerforth says, as if David "were my property" (283). After Steerforth elopes with Emily, David reframes his relationship in terms that renounce his passive role, proclaiming, "I should have loved him so well still—though he fascinated me no longer" (443). In this context, the description by both David and Betsey of Dora as "fascinating" (381, 489, 552) is more than simply a satirical comment on the exaggerations of youthful passion. David "Fall[s] into Captivity" (ch. 26) and becomes "steeped" in and "saturated" by Dora (460) because his own boundaries are so porous. The rhetoric of fascination maps seduction, and what David later understands as his "undisciplined heart" is represented as his problematic susceptibility.
Fascination, along with flogging, creates moments of spectacle, rare instances of visibility in a narrative that protects the autobiographer from physical characterization, as Audrey Jaffe has noted.9 After Murdstone beats him, David sees his "face in the glass, so swollen, red, and ugly that it almost frightened me" (55). The next time David views himself in a mirror he is drunk with Steerforth and his friends, an experience David represents as self-alienating: "Somebody was leaning out of my bedroom window....It was myself....Now, somebody was unsteadily contemplating his features in the looking-glass. That was I too. I was very pale in the looking-glass; my eyes had a vacant appearance" [End Page 521] (352–53). Fascinated by Dora, David becomes an affectionately satirized dandy in "sumptuous waistcoats," "straw-coloured kid gloves" and boots that "laid the foundations of all the corns I have ever had" (386)—like flogging, fascination can cause pain.
The connections between the objectified male body and psychic unboundedness are reinforced in Great Expectations, where Pip stands chief among "the men whom [Estella] had fascinated" (298). Pip is as susceptible to Estella as David is to Steerforth. He loves her, he says, "simply because I found her irresistible" (229); she "lures" him on (233), and he cannot resist her "enchantment" (236). In their early encounters, Estella humiliates Pip by focusing on his coarse hands and boots, while his shirtless boxing match with Herbert Pocket appears to inspire her "bright flush" and sudden allowance of a kiss (91). Estella demonstrates her power over him by feeding him in the yard as if he were "a dog in disgrace" and delighting in the tears she causes (61). If the doglike treatment recalls David's childhood, Pip's explanation of his emotional response to it also suggests that she is reprising the unjustness of his sister's "capricious and violent coercion" with Tickler (62), "a wax-ended piece of cane, worn smooth with collision with my tickled frame" (9). He is so affected, he explains, because his sister's care has left him "morally timid and very sensitive" (62).
Estella's focus on Pip's working-class body underlines the allure of class she shares with Steerforth; through her, Miss Havisham is able to "practise on the susceptibility of a poor boy" (358). Similarly, Steerforth effortlessly fascinates Daniel and Ham Peggotty:
There was an ease in his manner...which I still believe to have borne a kind of enchantment with it. I still believe him, in virtue of this carriage, his animal spirits, his delightful voice, his handsome face and figure, and for aught I know, of some inborn power of attraction besides (which I think a few people possess), to have carried a spell with him to which it was natural weakness to yield, and which not many persons could withstand. I could not but see how pleased they were with him, and how they seemed to open their hearts to him in a moment.
(99)
Steerforth clearly has charm, in all senses of the word; he even "bewitche[s]" Mrs. Gummidge (308). David's ascription of this "inborn power of attraction" enables him not only to project his own delight in Steerforth's "handsome face," but also to overlook the deference to class that structures the meeting.
The distribution of susceptibility in David Copperfield and Great [End Page 522] Expectations evokes a familiar set of arguments: that the phenomenon was both gendered and class-based, that women and the lower classes were most receptive to mental control by others.10 David is again struck by the way Steerforth exercises his personality on the "jaundiced and perverse" character of Rosa Dartle:
Steerforth exerted himself with his utmost skill...to charm this singular creature into a pleasant and pleased companion. That he should succeed was no matter of surprise to me. That she should struggle against the fascinating influence of his delightful art—delightful nature I thought it then—did not surprise me either;...I saw her try...to resist the captivating power he possessed.
(422)
"He fascinated me," Rosa recalls of her youthful passion (780), and, as with David and Pip, the marked, punished body proves psychically suggestible. Steerforth's renaming of David as "Daisy" makes his association with susceptible, seducible women explicit, just as Pip's fascination by Estella mirrors Miss Havisham's diseased concept of love as will-less self-abasement: "blind devotion, unquestioning self-humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against yourself" (237). Steerforth's seductions also cast transgressive femininity as susceptibility, as Dickens discriminates between will, the faculty that enables self-control, and "wilfulness" with its implications of irrationality and perverseness. Steerforth works the same "power" to deceive Emily (700), where once again "power" is entwined with the glamour of gentility; "vain and changeable" Emily with "wilfulness in her bright face," who "didn't know her own mind quite" (332, 298, 297), is susceptible in the same way as edgy, nervous, "dangerous" Rosa Dartle (424), and also "wilful" and "pliant" Clara Copperfield (42, 43).
Moreover, Steerforth is himself willful. Kaplan describes him as Dickens's true hero, "a master at exploiting other people's need to subordinate themselves to superior human beings who have been divinely favored with such gifts. And Dickens shared the myth. He believed himself to be one of those favored human beings" (177). Steerforth does not, however, have will in the newly individualistic formulation because he has neither self-control nor self-restraint. Although he can steer others, he cannot steer himself. He is a man of talent, but it is talent squandered, because he cannot focus. "That amazes me most in you," sermonizes David, "that you should be contented with such fitful uses of your powers," and Steerforth agrees with this assessment of his dilettanteism: "I have never learnt the art of binding myself to any of the [End Page 523] wheels on which the Ixions of these days are turning round and round. I missed it somehow in a bad apprenticeship" (314). Steerforth has been entirely spoilt by his equally willful mother, and he is the only pupil at Salem House not to be flogged by Creakle. Shortly before he elopes with Emily, he laments: "I wish to God I had had a judicious father these last twenty years!...I wish with all my soul I had been better guided!...I wish with all my soul I could guide myself better!" (312). It is clearly difficult to imagine a middle ground between flogging and indulgence, and the novel does not retrospectively discover Murdstone or Creakle—whose son has rebelled over the issue of flogging and been disowned—to be the novel's unconscious image of a "judicious father" (312). The transition Steerforth makes between being guided and guiding oneself is one that neither pampering nor physical punishment can enable.
David's fragile self-possession and his feelings of social inadequacy are revealed at moments of perceived psychic invasion. At the Steerforth residence, David finds the scrutiny of Rosa Dartle disconcerting: "Blameless as I was, and knew that I was, in reference to any wrong she could possibly suspect me of, I shrunk before her strange eyes, quite unable to endure their hungry lustre" (418–19). He also has to contend with the "unruffled eye" of the eminently respectable and "self-contained" manservant, Littimer (293, 291), and despite "having so little in reality to conceal,...I always did feel as if this man were finding me out" (405). Littimer's invasive gaze consistently makes David feel that he is "particularly young" and "the greenest and most inexperienced of mortals" (291, 292); on other occasions, David's sense of being "dreadfully young" speaks to "a distrust of myself" and a social sense of being "completely extinguished" (269).
Uriah Heep, who constantly refers to David as "Master Copperfield,—I should say, Mister Copperfield" (see, for instance, 368), understands the link between youthfulness and insecurity, and understands its obverse, the definition of manliness as self-possession. From first acquaintance, David finds himself "attracted towards Uriah Heep, who had a sort of fascination for me" (227). Uriah, who is seen "breathing into the pony's nostrils, and immediately, covering them with his hand, as if he were putting some spell upon him," is bewitching (213). David finds it impossible to escape the gaze of his "sleepless eyes" (216). David's initial success in "shut[ting] him out" of his memory (219) is short-lived; he spends the next night—and many others—dreaming [End Page 524] about Uriah. Heep intrudes insistently into David's psyche, and then into his physical space, moving into his old room at the Wickfields' house, and invading his London rooms. Heep's trademark writhing carries through the novel the physical effects of Creakle's beatings, which leave "half the establishment...writhing and crying before the day's work began" (91); his unboundedness—his writhing, his oozing clamminess, his "vomiting" bag (248)—is threatening because David is himself psychically, rather than physically, unbounded, "perpetually letting out something or other that I had no business to let out" (249–50).
When Heep professes his desire for Agnes, David loses his self- possession. He has the "delirious idea of seizing the red-hot poker out of the fire, and running him though with it....He seemed to swell and grow before my eyes; the room seemed full of the echoes of his voice; and the strange feeling...that all this had occurred before...and that I knew what he was going to say next, took possession of me" (371). David's sense of déjà vu, an intuition that brings to the conscious mind what its automatic workings have already registered, is subsumed into the derangement of his consciousness by Heep's psychic invasion. It is less a moment of knowledge than one of "possession." Heep permeates David's mind to the extent that the boundaries between them are, for the moment, erased. David later acknowledges the problem: "He knew me better than I knew myself" (605). Uriah's very presence is mentally alienating; the thought of him "sat heavy on me like a waking nightmare," David reflects (374), one of those states in which the will is "entirely suspended, whilst the Intellect remains in full activity and the Sensorium is freely open to external impressions" (Carpenter, Principles 624). States such as these, Carpenter comments, "show us what we should be if we really were—what some writers assure us that we really are—mere thinking automata, puppets moved in any direction by the pulling of suggesting-strings" (Principles 624).
The poker got into my dozing thoughts besides, and wouldn't come out. I thought, between sleeping and waking, that it was still red-hot, and I had snatched it out of the fire, and run him through the body. I was so haunted by the idea at last, though I knew there was nothing in it, that I stole into the next room to look at him....I was attracted to him in very repulsion, and could not help wandering in and out every half hour or so, and taking another look at him.
(374)
The homoerotics of this scene, described by Oliver Buckton as "somatic fixation and erotic disavowal" (209), return us to the entwinement of [End Page 525] the objectified male body with the failure of will: David's fantasy of physical penetration is at once the result of psychic penetration and a type of revenge for it, an uncanny return of Creakle's fascination for (punishing) the male body. The dynamics are thus part of the more inchoate threat fascination poses to the self-determining subject. David's openness to the psychic impositions of Steerforth and Heep suggests that there is more at stake in these relationships than homosexual desires tout court or his ideological proximity to their sexuality, selfishness, and, in Heep's case, ruthless upward mobility.11 As they point to the absence of a securely bounded individual, David's fascinations imply that Steerforth and Heep do not reveal his "true" identity so much as the lack of it. Betsey Trotwood therefore explicitly recasts the firmness that has been associated with the Murdstones' austerity as the autonomy of identity, abjuring him to become not "physically, but morally . . ., a firm fellow. A fine firm fellow, with a will of your own. With resolution....With determination. With character, Trot—with strength of character that is not to be influenced, except on good reason, by anybody or by anything" (268).
In Great Expectations, fascination figures the moral passivity engendered by Pip's expectations as a failure of individualization, over and against the self-determining middle-class manhood of hard work that Pip finally chooses. Estella's "influence on my boyish life and character [has] been all-powerful," Pip notices, and she has "taken such strong possession of me" (229) that she permeates his being to "the innermost life of my life" (233). Knowing that loving Estella brings only misery, Pip can do nothing to resist her; recognising the deleterious "influence" of his expectations on his character (268), his immoral treatment of Joe and Biddy, and his "ill-regulated aspirations" from which Estella is "impossible to dissociate" (233), he is apparently will- less to amend his behavior, precisely because Estella "was so inseparable from all my restlessness and disquiet of mind, that I really fell into confusion as to the limits of my own part in its production" (268). At the heart of the snob's story is a self whose "limits" are confused and indistinct.
Pip's inability to cleanse himself of "contaminat[ion]" by "the taint of prison and crime" (261, 260) and to leave behind his lower-class doubles, Trabb's boy and Orlick, further underlines his porousness. Magwitch's return then exposes the dependence of Pip's situation as the astounded Pip loses his "self-possession" (312). Pip registers Magwitch's [End Page 526] "power over" him (339) through a sense of preternatural psychic affinity to the extent that he imagines: "I had had mysterious warnings of this man's approach. That, for weeks gone by, I had passed faces in the streets which I had thought like his. That, these likenesses had grown more numerous, as he, coming over the sea, had drawn nearer. That his wicked spirit had somehow sent these messengers to mine" (319). Pip's permeability, which is also registered in his hallucinations and dreams of Miss Havisham, is explicitly channelled in Orlick's murderous resentment. Focusing on his own punishments, Orlick asserts the interchangeability and leakiness of those identities belonging to beaten subjects, a porousness already made apparent by Pip's guilt over the assault on Mrs. Joe. "It was you as did for your shrew sister," Orlick tells Pip: "I giv' it her!...But it warn't Old Orlick as did it; it was you. You was favoured, and he was bullied and beat. Old Orlick bullied and beat, eh? Now you pays for it. You done it; now you pays for it" (421). Vowing to kill Pip and dispose of his body in the limekiln, Orlick threatens to make literal the erasure of the individual implied by fascination.
The flogging of Fascination Fledgeby in Our Mutual Friend encapsulates the discourses through which this essay has approached Victorian autonomy and social interaction. It is the violent culmination of a plot of financial exploitation exerted through social deception and manipulation. Fledgeby's "honorary title" is ostensibly ironic (261), for, like "the fascinating Tippins" (124, 401, 404), he is not in the least bit fascinating. Rather it is the "dangerous fascinations" of his flogger, Alfred Lammle, that threaten to ensnare Georgiana Podsnap into the Lammles' desperate financial scheming and that stand in for the charisma the uncouth Fledgeby so notably lacks (259). Fledgeby derives his power by firmly keeping "his own counsel" (269) and by withdrawing himself from the transactions he directs; he desires "to work a lot of power over you and you not know it, knowing as you think yourselves" (427–28). His moniker intimates the depersonalization of the dynamics of fascination and the "terrible...fascination of money" that Bella Wilfer sees afflicting Mr. Boffin (455); such enthrallment creates both obsession in the miserly and dependency in debtors. Lammle's caning of Fledgeby is the last recourse of a man who discovers that he, and not one of his own victims, is a "puppet" (268). Fledgeby is forced to experience physically the "flay[ing]" that he revels in as Pubsey and Co.'s profitable procedure (423), and the "threshing" is a profoundly cathartic moment, richly "merited" and intensified by Jenny Wren's [End Page 527] gleeful application of pepper to Fledgeby's wounds (705). As Adrian Poole notes, the older form of the verb "to thrash" "retains its association with productive activity, the separation of wheat from chaff, to which a good deal of the latter stages of the novel is devoted" (836n3). While the flogger is, morally, no gentleman at all, the flogging is of a piece with the conservatism of the Headstone-Wrayburn plot, which pits the alienation of the schoolmaster's "self-command" (535) against gentlemanly lassitude and "incapab[ility] of designs" (292), and leaves only the gentleman's "self-possession" intact (399). The moneylender who purports to be "a gentleman" (698), and who is at home in Turkish or Persian dress—only donning "Christian attire" to go out in public (428)—is subject to gentlemanly English punishment, the natural revenge of the "conceited" and "beard[ed]" gentlemen that Fledgeby, like Uriah Heep, so jealously disdains (427). "Having been sufficiently flayed under his beating" (782), Fledgeby eventually makes terms with Lightwood, and his hold over Wrayburn and Twemlow is removed.
The various forms of fascination exemplified by Heep, Steerforth, Magwitch, Miss Havisham, Estella, Lammle, and Fledgeby are always punished by Dickens, even in ways that convolute the criticism of flogging, such as the caning of Fledgeby or the beating of Estella by the brutal Bentley Drummle, which leaves her "bent and broken, but—I hope—into a better shape" (478). Only discreditable characters flog, but where the flogging of children vitiates their will, the beating of adults works to reinforce the limits of the self.12 The threatening power of fascination lies in its anti-individualist traversing of borders, as it exposes the unsettling contingency of selfhood and the fragile nature of the self-determination integral to Victorian middle-class identity and ethics. Properly regulated subjects, Dickens suggests, must neither allow their vulnerable boundaries to be invaded, nor overstep those boundaries: they must be neither fascinated nor fascinating.
Natalie Rose completed a PhD in English at the University of Toronto in 2005. Her dissertation, "Modalities of Gender and Nation in the Mid-Victorian Novel," examines constructions of bounded selfhood and English hybridity.
Notes
I would like to thank James Eli Adams, Alan Bewell, Mike Doherty, Ivan Kreilkamp, Ruth Mas, Jill Matus, and the anonymous reviewers at Victorian Studies for their helpful comments and suggestions.
1. I use the term flogging to include various sub-genres of punishment including whipping, birching, and caning. Some writers use the terms interchangeably (as do, for [End Page 528] instance, Gaskell in Cranford and Meredith in The Egoist); others pay attention to the difference (as does Marryat in Mr. Midshipman Easy).
2. While many supporters of flogging looked to the Book of Proverbs for authority to whip their children ("He that spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes" [Proverbs 13:24]; "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shall beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell" [Proverbs 23:13–14]), their opponents argued that Christ's scourging had atoned for man's sins. Pamphlets such as Flogging, or Scourging, by Human Law, Contrasted with the Same Punishment by Divine Law (1846) weighed English law against the New Testament and found it as merciless as heathen law.
3. For other examples of arguments against penal flogging, see Radzinowicz and Hood, 700–01.
4. At the end of the century, as Angus McLaren has shown, flogging was reintroduced under the 1898 Vagrancy Act to punish deviant forms of masculinity such as the vagrant, the procurer, the male prostitute, and the transvestite. Even Mill allowed that flogging might be "admissible" in the case of "certain grave moral delinquencies chiefly those which are either of a cowardly or of a brutal character" ("To W. O. Adams").
5. The details of the case are similar to one George Bernard Shaw—perhaps the most famous critic of the "sensual" vice of flogging—cited in his attack on a nation "Under the Whip" in the preface to Misalliance (1914).
6. On the link between flogging and childhood sexual deviancy in Victorian medical literature, see Gibson, ch. 1.
7. See Gibson on Swinburne's explorations of the spectacle and the shame of flogging (305–08). The use of flagellant prostitution by men like Swinburne has suggested to critics that such heterosexual pornography is a screen for sodomitical desires (Marcus 260–62; Dellamora 85). Christopher Lane's attention to Swinburne's "fascination with psychic instability and death" (84) provocatively suggests the ways in which libidinal investments in the excesses of pain may be seen to counter the formative discourses of flogging with a desire for the dissolution of the self.
8. A number of critics have, by contrast, seen the discipline administered by Murdstone and Creakle as preparing the ground for David's social success; see, for instance, Miller 217, Buckton 200, Dowling 52.
9. In contrast to Jaffe's argument that disfiguration "signals both the character's bounded subjectivity and the narrator's position outside it" (118), my reading sees the flogged body as linked to a problematically unbounded subjectivity.
10. For example, Thomas Wakley noted that magnetic influence "acts most intensely on nervous and impressionable females" (qtd. in Parssinen 114), and Samuel Brown commented that "women are decidedly more sensitive to it" (139). Henry Maudsley asserted that hysterical women were most suggestible because they "have no well- formed will of their own, and they become the easy victims of ideas forcibly presented to them by others" (343). William Gregory considered the lower classes to be suggestible because "their intellectual powers are not in...constant activity;" "they become, therefore, more readily passive" (17). J. F. Ferrier described susceptibility as "a disgusting condition which is characteristic only of the most abject specimens of our species" (85).
11. The ideological implications of the narrative displacements of David's character are discussed by Poovey, Welsh, Miller, Jaffe, and Dowling. [End Page 529]
12. Dickens was willing to countenance the flogging of adults. In "Lying Awake" (1852), he argued that "the general tone and feeling...is much improved since the whipping times. It is bad for a people to be familiarised with such punishments" (qtd. in Collins 255). The problem is, he noted, "the whip is a very contagious thing, and difficult to confine within one set of bounds" (qtd. in Collins 255). While articles on flogging in Dickens's journals, Household Words and All the Year Round, are overwhelmingly critical of the punishment, in 1868 he recommended flogging "The Ruffian": "I would have his back scarified deep and often" (qtd. in Collins 255). In The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the frenzied and fatuous rumours that Neville Landless (another beaten child who lacks self- control) had "caused to be whipped to death sundry 'Natives'" before coming to England (198) suggest Dickens's distaste for the moral outrage elicited by Governor Eyre's brutal suppression of the rising at Morant Bay, Jamaica.
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anti-fragility dijo...

Interesante, debes de informarnos como vaya.