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Sexual Politics And Social Mobility In The Expedition Of Humphry Clinker
Article from Journal - ilmiah internasional
Fu jen studies: literature & linguistics no. 43 (Sep. 2010)
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This essay explores the issues of sexual politics and social mobility in Tobias Smollett's last novel, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (111 I). While political problems such as nationalism and ethnicity are the dominant issues on the sur¬face, a latent discourse of sexual politics and social mobility functions as an un-dercurrent. By analyzing three female characters—Lydia Mclford, Winifred Jen¬kins, and Tabitha Bramble—and the effeminized Humphry Clinker, I hope to il-lustrate how their representations in the novel are used to safeguard male su-premacy from any encroachment by the female sex. By ridiculing female sexual-ity with mockery and travesty or by debasing it as social and moral evil, the pa-triarchy hopes to sustain its systematic power. This strategy of sexual politics is further extended and expanded to curtail the social mobility of Clinker, the eponymous character, by relegating him to the underprivileged cluster due to his Methodist belief and his socio-economic status. Bramble's patronizing treatment of Lydia and misanthropic depiction of Tabitha, Jery's nonchalant disposal of a former mistress and inexorable caricature of Tabitha, and Clinker's limited social ascendance because of his effeminized status (birth, class, and religion): all these testify to the arbitrary social conditioning of sexual relationships and gender identity. With Smollett's inclusion of the titular male character in the disadvan-taged group of the female sex, social mobility is decided to a great extent by the ideology of sexual politics.
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