The Essence of the Age of Enlightenment in Emma Donoghue’s Slammerkin

shikha thakur


This paper aims at analysing Emma Donoghue’s Slammerkin, written in 2000. This novel, set in mid-eighteenth century England, projects a girl who in no time is pushed into the category of a ‘fallen woman’ for violating the prescribed patriarchal norms and roles for women. Here the girl, Mary, is represented as a universal subject who lives in wretched condition. The scope of reclamation is dealt to facilitate lost selfhood in general and of women victims in particular. Its objective is to asseverate the wholeness of one’s identity.  Reclamation is synonymous to the redefinition of womanhood and selfhood. The victory of assertion can be felicitously traced when Mary redefines the term prostitute by combating the patriarchal society of the Enlightenment that makes her a peripheral character.


fallen woman; patriarchy; reclamation; selfhood

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Albert, Edward. History of English Literature. 5thed. New Delhi: Oxford UP, 2013. Print.

Burke, Edmund. A Vindication of Natural Society: or, a View of the Miseries and Evils Arising to Mankind from Every Species of Artificial Society. Ed. Frank N. Pagano. New York: Liberty Fund, 1756. Online Library of Liberty. Web. 26 October 2015.

Donoghue, Emma. Slammerkin. 2000. London: Virago P, 2011. Print.

Schott, Robin, ed. Feminist Interpretations of Immanuel Kant. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 1993. Penn State University Press. Web. 21 November 2015

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