'Violence and desire from the Renaissance stage to the Wild West: Angela Carter and the two John Fords'

Duggan, Robert orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4013-9002 (2025) 'Violence and desire from the Renaissance stage to the Wild West: Angela Carter and the two John Fords'. In: Angela Carter's Pasts: Allegories and Intertextualities. Bloomsbury Publishing, London. ISBN 9781350343511

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This essay explores the significance of violence and desire in Angela Carter’s work, and how her writing around these themes, in particular her short story ‘John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore’ (1988), draws upon and responds to iconic cultural expressions from different genres and historical periods. Carter’s appropriation and intertwining of the discourses of desire from Renaissance drama and the cinematic tradition of the Western are analysed and the essay investigates the extent to which Carter’s writing suggests a (dis)continuity in patriarchal social mores and in the status of sibling incest as an ultimate expression of tragic, forbidden love. Carter’s distinctive combination of attention to the specificities of genre and period and willingness to experiment with the short story form is considered in relation to the fascinating intersection of prose narrative, dramatic text and invented film script in her fiction. The discussion interrogates Carter’s treatment of the relationship between sexuality and male violence on the Jacobean/Caroline stage and in Westerns, exploring the social dynamics and consequences for gender politics of the rebellious and incestuous violation of patriarchal law and the spectacle of its punishment.

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