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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Queer Analysis of Angela Carter's "The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman"

There are many aspects of Carter's novel that are available for analysis, including the way both females and nature are portrayed. Some of the more subtle aspects of Carter's "The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman" are the sections in the story that can be viewed through the lens of a queen theorist. Donald E. Hall says that an important question should be employed when reading text that can be analyzed using queer theory: "Does the text promote a notion of proper sexual and affectional attachment as existing only within the confines of the traditional marriage between a man and a woman?" (241). Desiderio's rape, for example, graphically depicts several men taking turns penetrating him. Here, as well as many other places in the book, Carter breaks the cultural norm by making sexual intercourse both outside of the realm of marriage and between members of the same gender. This is largely because Carter defines sexual "normality" as intercourse based merely on desires, which even constitutes rape in many instances within the book. By Carter defining "sexual normality" so far outside of the box (in relation to contemporary society), queer critique becomes based more upon how sexual desires and sexuality are defined than the sexual acts themselves.

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