Elements Of Femme Fatale

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The Gothic is the study of the otherness; the unseen. It disturbs us as it is associated with anxiety, chaos, darkness, the grotesque and evokes images of death, destruction and decay. (Steele, 1997)According to Catherine Spooner in ‘Contemporary Gothic’ 2006, “The Gothic lurks in all sorts of unexpected corners.” It is incredibly broad - superstitions, the uncanny, the monstrous, the forgotten past, the Gothic feminine - to name but a few are all elements which combine to form this theme. The Gothic as a genre is not something which just emerged ripe and ready for exploitation into the modern era. (Spooner, 2006) It is profoundly concerned with the past, it has a history. The aim of this extended essay is to focus on the seduction of the Gothic…show more content…
In order to grasp an understanding of how she could be deemed a mid-Victorian femme fatale, it is crucial to attempt to define it. The femme fatale exists through centuries of art, poetry and literature, for instance Shakespeare’s Cleopatra, but is most prominent in the mid to late nineteenth century literature. The mid- Victorian femme fatale is difficult to define or stereotype, she is a lot more complex and has many different sides to her than the vampires or she-devils characterised by late 19th century novelists. (Hedgecock, 2008) She is not a dangerous, treacherous woman and would rarely commit murder to get what she desires. In ‘The Femme Fatale in Victorian Literature: The Danger and Sexual Threat’ 2008, Jennifer Hedgecock examines how the dire socioeconomic class femme fatale of the Victorian era drives her to escape a life of poverty. She argues that “the mid-Victorian femme fatale is a literary signpost of the changing roles of women in the nineteenth century” a time when feminist movements began to be organised in an effort to change “society’s treatment of women.” In ‘The Rise and Fall of the Femme Fatale in British Literature, 1790-1910’ 2012 Heather Braun explains how Lizzie “found in art and portraiture one of the few means left to escape a life of infamy and poverty”. Working as the Pre-Raphaelite’s model, Lizzie was making a better wage, and creating more opportunities for herself, than a little…show more content…
She creates work filled with “gloomy romanticism,” which is deeply concerned with the past and present, sleep and night and death. Dongen sees the women she depicts as ‘abstract’ things, which refer to an earlier traditional movement. However, there is always a small element, whether it is a death tattoo or a printed shirt, from the present day; she is presenting a symbol from a subculture and an ancient symbol. (Museum, 2015)This element to her work gives a greater emphasis on mortality or melancholy, or in a sense neutralises it. Iris van Dongen explains how the oppositions she juxtaposes with each other – “‘good and evil’, ‘past and present’ and, literally, the ‘figurative’ and the ‘abstract’, are meant to blur the boundaries of these concepts.’” (Bethanien, 2015) The poses and clothing of these women which come directly from the catwalk are the only elements which give her work a 21st century vibe. For this reason, Iris van Dongen’s art could be deemed ‘timeless’ and in a way, similar to the Brotherhood who revived mythology and the Raphaelite era, she is also attempting to revitalising the past. However, like many other contemporary artists, such as Cindy Sherman and Gregory Crewdson, she has not completely returned to the art of

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