Hostname: page-component-5db6c4db9b-v64r6 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-03-25T05:18:13.922Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true


Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2006

Julia Miele Rodas
Sarah Lawrence College


AMIDST THE CAST OF Anthony Trollope's Barchester Towers (1857) is the stunningly beautiful “Signora Madeline Vesey Neroni,” who turns the heads of readers and characters alike. “It was impossible,” the narrator informs us, “that either man or woman should do other than look at her” (ch. 10). Dark and mysterious, brilliant and alluring, Madeline Neroni entices the swains of Barchester to pay her court, then toys with them mercilessly and enjoys watching them writhe. The fact that she is both beautiful and without compunction may do little to set her apart from other Victorian villainesses, Trollope's Lizzie Eustace, for instance, Wilde's Mrs. Cheveley or, more infamously, Thackeray's Becky Sharpe, but while Lizzie, Mrs. Cheveley, and Becky ultimately meet with poetic justice, their fortunes descending as their ruthless self-interest becomes increasingly apparent, Madeline keeps herself carefully protected. Pristinely beautiful from first to last, La Signora Neroni guards her virtue and maintains an even temper, bemused both by those who hate her and by those who court her, ultimately returning with her family to their home in Italy, apparently unchanged by her experience in Barchester society. Madeline has a strange kind of integrity; she is a powerful figure, a force to be reckoned with, able to stand up with equal ease and self-assurance to the daunting Mrs. Proudie, the earnest Arabin, and the slick Mr. Slope.

© 2006 Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Baker Houston. 2002. “Disability Studies and Other ‘Identity’ Studies.” MLA 2002 Convention. New York, NY. 28 Dec.
Baynton Douglas. “A Silent Exile on this Earth: The Metaphoric Construction of Deafness in the Nineteenth Century.” The Disability Studies Reader. Ed. Lennard J. Davis. New York: Routledge, 1997. 12850.
Davis Lennard J. 1995. Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body. London: Verso
Davis Lennard J. 2005. “Why ‘Million Dollar Baby’ Infuriates the Disabled.” Chicago Tribune. 2 Feb.Google Scholar
Davis Lennard J., ed. 1997. The Disability Studies Reader. New York: Routledge
Dennery Adolphe Philippe, and Eugène Cormon. 1870. The Two Orphans, or In the Hands of Heaven. Trans. N. Hart Jackson. Melodrama Classics. Ed. Dorothy MacKin. New York: Sterling, 1982. 12474.
Dickens Charles. 1985. American Notes for General Circulation. 1842. Ed. Angus Calder. London: Penguin Books (Penguin Classics)
Drake Steve, and Mary Johnson. “Movies About Disabled Keep Myths Alive.” Chicago Sun-Times 12 Feb. 2005. 13 Feb. 2005 <>.
Eigen Joel Peter. Unconscious Crime: Mental Absence and Criminal Responsibility in Victorian London. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2003.
Fecteau Lydia. 2005Disabled in the Romantic and Victorian Ages.” Online posting. 12 Aug. 2003. 31 Jan. <>.
Frawley Maria. “‘A Prisoner to the Couch’: Harriet Martineau, Invalidism, and Self-Representation.” The Body and Physical Difference: Discourses of Disability. Eds. David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder. U of Michigan P, 1997. 17488.
Gill Mike, and Kestrell moderators. DS-HUM Listserv. University of Maryland. 18 Feb. 2005. <>.
Gitter Elisabeth A.The Blind Daughter in Charles Dickens's ‘Cricket on the Hearth.’SEL: Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900 39.4 (Autumn 1999): 67589.
Gitter Elisabeth A. 1992: “Deaf-Mutes and Heroines in the Victorian Era.” Victorian Literature and Culture 20 17996.Google Scholar
Gitter Elisabeth A.Laura Bridgman and Little Nell.” Dickens Quarterly 8.2 (June 1991): 7579.
Gitter Elisabeth A. The Imprisoned Guest: Samuel Howe and Laura Bridgman, the Original Deaf-Blind Girl. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2001.
Goffman Erving. 1963. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall
Graham Peter W., and Fritz H. Oelschlaeger. 1992. Articulating the Elephant Man: Joseph Merrick and His Interpreters. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP
Hamilton Elizabeth C. 1997. “From Social Welfare to Civil Rights: The Representation of Disability in Twentieth-Century German Literature.” The Body and Physical Difference: Discourses of Disability. Eds. David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder. U of Michigan P, 22339.
Holmes Martha Stoddard. 2004. Fictions of Affliction: Physical Disability in Victorian Culture. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P
Hyman Gwen. 1998. “‘The New Centaur’: Evolution and the Rise and Fall of Miserrimus Dexter.” “By Body Bound”: The Nineteenth Century Studies Association 1998 Conference. University of Alabama, Huntsville, Alabama. 3 Apr.
Jaffe Audrey. 2000. Scenes of Sympathy: Identity and Representation in Victorian Fiction. Ithaca: Cornell UP
Klages Mary. 1999. Woeful Afflictions: Disability and Sentimentality in Victorian America. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P
Kline Wendy. 2005Sentimental Afflictions.” Rev. of Woeful Afflictions: Disability and Sentimentality in Victorian America by Mary Klages. H-Disability (September 2001). 16 Feb <>.
LaCom Cindy. “‘It Is More Than Lame’: Female Disability, Sexuality, and the Maternal in the Nineteenth-Century Novel.” The Body and Physical Difference: Discourses of Disability. Ed. David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1997. 189201.
Linton Simi. 1998. Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity. New York: NYU P
McRuer Robert. “Compulsory Able-Bodiedness and Queer/Disabled Existence.” Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities. Ed. Sharon L. Snyder, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, and Rosemarie Garland Thomson. New York: MLA, 2002. 8899.
Michie Helena. “‘Who is this in pain?’: Scarring, Disfigurement, and Female Identity in Bleak House and Our Mutual Friend.” Novel 22.2 (Winter 1989): 199212.
Mitchell David T., and Sharon L. Snyder. 2001. Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P
Mitchell David T., and Sharon L. Snyder., eds. 1997. The Body and Physical Difference: Discourses of Disability. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P
Rodas Julia Miele. “Tiny Tim, Blind Bertha, and the Resistance of Miss Mowcher: Charles Dickens and the Uses of Disability.” Dickens Studies Annual 34 (Summer 2004). 5197.
Rosner Mary. “Deviance in The Law and the Lady: The Uneasy Positioning of Mr. Dexter.” The Victorian Newsletter 106 (Fall 2004): 914.
Siebers Tobin. “Words Stare Like a Glass Eye: From Literary to Visual to Disability Studies and Back Again.” PMLA 119.5 (Oct. 2004): 131524.
Singer Mark. “The Misfit. Profile of David Milch.” The New Yorker (14 Feb. 2005). 192205.
Snyder Sharon L., Brenda Jo Brueggemann, and Rosemarie Garland Thomson. 2002. Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities. New York: MLA
Thomson Rosemarie Garland. 1997. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. New York: Columbia UP
Trollope Anthony. 1996. Barchester Towers. 1857. Intro. John Sutherland. Oxford: Oxford UP
Wright David. 2001. Mental Disability in Victorian England: The Earlswood Asylum, 1847–1901. New York: Oxford UP