The Threat of Mesmerism
Type of Degreethesis
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This thesis examines how mesmerism and its practitioners invoke social anxieties about gender roles in nineteenth century America in view of two texts. Confessions of a Magnetiser, anonymously published in 1845, and “A Pair of Eyes; or Modern Magic,” written by Louisa May Alcott in 1863, share common similarities about how mesmerism complicates power relations between men and women. Confessions, however, reinforces masculine control over women whereas Alcott’s treatment of mesmerism grants the main female character, Agatha, control over her husband with doomed results. Along with the discussion of gender relations, the language surrounding mesmerism reflects language used at the time to discuss alcohol addiction.
- Todd Aldridge MA Final Thesis Spring 2010.pdf