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Translating LifeStudies in Transpositional Aesthetics$
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Shirley Chew and Alistair Stead

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780853236740

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846314285

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Helena Faucit: Shakespeare's Victorian Heroine

Helena Faucit: Shakespeare's Victorian Heroine

(p.297) Helena Faucit: Shakespeare's Victorian Heroine
Translating Life

Gail Marshall

Liverpool University Press

William Shakespeare's plays are often absorbed into popular culture that revives the Victorian performer not only in a new century, but also in new media. Two examples are Kenneth Branagh's 1995 film In the Bleak Midwinter and Angela Carter's 1991 novel Wise Children. Shakespeare's work championed Victorian women and enabled actresses to occupy the stage without being accused of immorality typically thrown at the female performer. This chapter explores the complementarity of this relationship, along with the many processes of mutual translation involved in it. It considers Helena Faucit's (later Lady Theodore Martin) On Some of Shakespeare's Female Characters (1887) and at her husband's biography of her. Faucit was a prominent Victorian actress who played various Shakespearean roles. The chapter shows how Faucit is transformed into a Shakespearean heroine and an exemplary Victorian woman at the same time. ‘Victorian’ and ‘Shakespearean’ are synonymous terms that translate each other in Faucit's lexicon of idealised femininity.

Keywords:   William Shakespeare, Victorian woman, translation, Helena Faucit, Theodore Martin, On Some of Shakespeare's Female Characters, Shakespearean heroine, femininity, biography

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