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Articulating BodiesThe Narrative Form of Disability and Illness in Victorian Fiction$
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Kylee-Anne Hingston

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620757

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620757.001.0001

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Fairy-Tale Bodies: Prostheses and Narrative Perspective in Dinah Mulock Craik’s The Little Lame Prince

Fairy-Tale Bodies: Prostheses and Narrative Perspective in Dinah Mulock Craik’s The Little Lame Prince

Chapter:
(p.139) Chapter Five Fairy-Tale Bodies: Prostheses and Narrative Perspective in Dinah Mulock Craik’s The Little Lame Prince
Source:
Articulating Bodies
Author(s):

Kylee-Anne Hingston

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781789620757.003.0006

As a literary fairy tale, Dinah Mulock Craik’s The Little Lame Prince and His Travelling Cloak: A Parable for Young and Old (1874) employs a fantasy setting and magical circumstances to depict the moral, psychological, and physical development of its hero, Prince Dolor. The hybrid story combines fairy tale, Bildungsroman, and parable, defies conventional narrative closure, and produces incongruous understandings of disability. The story’s narrative trajectory moves towards closure, first reinforcing Dolor’s physical deviance and the eradicating it through magical prosthetic gifts; as such, the outer structure creates a story of disability as abnormal, restricting, and in need of compensation if not cure. However, by making readers aware first of the narrator’s physical limitations and of their own roles as spectators, and then by focalizing through the disabled hero while he is a spectator, The Little Lame Prince undermines its earlier use of Dolor as a sentimental spectacle. Moreover, moments in which readers focalize with Dolor through his magical prostheses reveal the limitations of all bodies and speculate on the beauty and infinite variety of physical difference. These colliding views of disability in The Little Lame Prince exhibit the complex, shifting role of the body in Victorian thought.

Keywords:   fairy tale, prostheses, Bildungsroman, parable, focalization, disability

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