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Kulish, N. (1994). In the Name of Love. Women, Masochism, and the Gothic: By Michelle A. Massé. Ithaca/London: Cornell University Press, 1992. 301 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 63:801-804.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63:801-804

In the Name of Love. Women, Masochism, and the Gothic: By Michelle A. Massé. Ithaca/London: Cornell University Press, 1992. 301 pp.

Review by:
Nancy Kulish

In the genre of the Gothic novel, the heroines are submitted repeatedly to being humiliated, dominated, terrorized, or beaten—all "in the name of love." Michelle Massé, Associate Professor of English at Louisiana State University, has used the Gothic novel for a study of masochism in women from feminist and psychoanalytic perspectives. Her sources range from Jane Eyre to Rebecca, The Yellow Wallpaper, The Story of O, and more contemporary and lesser known works of fiction.

In the prototypical plot of the romantic Gothic, a young girl, trapped in an isolated setting such as an English country estate, uncovers a sinister secret. As the story unfolds, she is mistreated and abused by a bad man (who may turn out to be a good man) and is saved by a good man, whom she marries in the end. Massé sees these stories as representations of the beating fantasies articulated by Freud in "'A Child is Being Beaten.'" The parallels are convincing: heroine and reader of the Gothic novel are compulsive voyeurs of scenes in which children or girls are beaten or humiliated by parental figures. As a patient who obsessively enacts a beating fantasy, the Gothic heroine seems frozen in time, drawn repeatedly to experience pain and pleasure simultaneously. We watch the submissive heroine in Du Maurier's Rebecca, for instance, humiliated in front of servants by her mysterious husband and yet drawn inevitably to unearth his secrets.

Like Freud, Massé sees the beating fantasy as central to masochism.

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