Gender Subversion and Victoriana in A. S. Byatt’s “Morpho Eugenia”

Journal of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Split, No. 4 January 2011

Original scientific paper

Antonija Primorac   ORCID icon ; University of Split, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences 
Ivana Balint-Feudvarski

pages 221-235

04_15_Primorac_Balint_Feudvarski PDF


The article explores the concept of Victoriana and its relationship to the Victorian as presented in A. S. Byatt’s novella “Morpho Eugenia” from Angels and Insects (1992). The analysis is done on two levels: firstly, on the level of form, or different narrative strategies that Byatt is using in order to make her text “Victorian.” Secondly, the article detects, explores and describes those aspects of Victoriana in “Morpho Eugenia” which relate to the gender roles and relationships of its three central characters: William Adamson, Eugenia Alabaster and Matty Crompton. The argument is based on the supposition that Byatt uses Adamson’s character in order to both alienate the reader from and attract her/him to the text by reversing the gender roles and subverting our expectations of “Victorian” fiction. By choosing the “New Woman” Matty over the “Old Woman” Eugenia, Adamson’s character confirms and promotes the progressive worldviews thus addressing not only the Victorian time but our own time (and expectations) as well.


Gender roles; intertextual/intertextuality; postmodern; subversion; text; Victoriana/Victorian