We are not amused! Caricatures of and Satire on Victorian Women


  • Dr. Pritesh Chakraborty Assistant Professor, Department of English, Acharya Sukumar Sen Mahavidyalaya, West Bengal


Humour and amusement were a reported anathema to the Victorian tight-lipped middle and upper middle class. However, when it came to the subject of laughing off at the caricatures of women in the Victorian humour magazines like Punch, the same tight-lipped people did smirk off their Victorian reserve. The apparent gravity of the educated upper caste would let go its well-guarded seriousness when it came to the presentation of women as matters of joke. Thus, through a non-serious medium of artistic expression, the animosity towards a gender could be laid bare. The theoretical apparatus used for inferring the underlying significances would be feminism and deconstruction. The primary texts would of course be the caricatures from Punch and like magazines while the critical works would include Second Sex, Of Grammatology, Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of Human Sciences and specialist critical literature like Graphic Women Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics by Hillary L. Chute which deals with both together. The paper using one of the popular theories of Freud, namely the psychological state of mind revealed by jokes, probes the caricatures as vents of collective repression of consciousness or sub consciousness.


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