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Music and Sexuality in BrittenSelected Essays$
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Philip Brett and George Haggerty

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520246096

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520246096.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

Britten's Bad Boys

Britten's Bad Boys

Male Relations in the Turn of the Screw

(p.88) chapter six Britten's Bad Boys
Music and Sexuality in Britten

Philip Brett

University of California Press

This chapter delves into the nineteenth-century sexual discourse's preoccupation with male practices for which “onanism” served as a label. The Turn of The Screw is characterized by the Foucauldian categorization of social subjects of control by a sexuality–power synergy. The four-fold category includes the hysterical woman, the sexual child, the Malthusian couple, and the perverse adult. The story is characterized by three of these elements. While the governess represents the first element, the children, Miles, especially, represents the second. The Malthusian couple, apparently invisible, turns out to be the first birth-control books in the 1830s, which separated sexual pleasure from the perceived inevitable biological consequences, triggering a spate of anti-onanist literature and a frenzy to control the female physique. Anti-onanism manifests in the deprived characters who, by teaching the young to masturbate, induce sexual difference and desire in virgin minds.

Keywords:   onanism, Foucauldian, Malthusian couple, male relations, deprived character, sexual difference

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