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The Devils$
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Darren Arnold

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781911325758

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781911325758.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 20 May 2022

Gender and Sexuality

Gender and Sexuality

(p.81) Chapter 5: Gender and Sexuality
The Devils

Darren Arnold

Liverpool University Press

This chapter focuses on the representation of gender and sexuality in Ken Russell's The Devils (1973). In terms of gender and sexuality, The Devils possess, at its core, a very traditional outlook that is quite a good fit with the philosophies of many of those responsible for the film's critical opprobrium. The protagonist, Grandier, is a red-blooded male and apparently a heartthrob for the majority of Loudun's female population. As he is being tortured in the film's latter stages, Grandier confesses, ‘I have been a man. I have loved women’, clearly seeing the two things as being concordant. This statement also serves to further emasculate Louis XIII. More problematically, there are numerous female characters in The Devils, and the bulk of them are defined through their relationships to/with the louche Grandier—most are in love/lust with the priest and/or driven hysterical by him. Regardless of where they stand on the Grandier spectrum, one thing all these women have in common is that they are infantilised through their relationships with/to the priest. Whether fantasising about Grandier-as-Christ or giving in to her onanistic urges in clear view of one of her equally sex-starved charges, Jeanne is a hysteric whose happiness completely depends on the feelings of a man she's never even met.

Keywords:   gender, sexuality, Ken Russell, The Devils, emasculation, female characters, Sister Jeanne, Urbain Grandier, Louis XIII

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