Criminal Femmes Fatales in American Hardboiled Crime Fiction by Maysaa Jaber

By Maysaa Jaber

This e-book fills a niche in either literary and feminist scholarship by means of providing the 1st significant examine of femme fatales in hardboiled crime fiction. Maysaa Jaber indicates that the felony literary figures within the style open up robust areas for imagining lady service provider in direct competition to the constraining forces of patriarchy and misogyny.

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Indeed the relationship between the Op and Gabrielle is shown to be more of a father-daughter relationship, or perhaps one can say a doctor-patient relationship. And although the Op helps Gabrielle in her addiction, he nonetheless treats her as a “madwoman” who needs to be cured. 42 Criminal Femmes Fatales in American Hardboiled Crime Fiction Within the critical scholarship that addresses The Dain Curse there is a broad agreement about Gabrielle’s victimization. Gregory (1985: 75) describes her as “the stereotypical female victim”; William Marling (1983: 57) calls her a “traditional damsel in distress”; Peter Wolfe (1980: 100) states that the only certainty of the book is the identity of the victim – Gabrielle.

The celebration of the “delinquent male hero” already existed in American popular culture in the 1930s and 1940s, especially in the Western genre. Hardboiled crime fiction can also be said to exemplify the “tough guy” crime genre with a cynical city-dwelling male loner – mostly, but not always, a detective who is implicated in a world of violence and disorder and who oscillates between the wealthy elite and the underworld of gangsters and dangerous women. But there is an equal emphasis on women, who are far from neglected in this genre.

It can be said that hardboiled crime fiction does make room for women’s resistance, which becomes a means for them to show agency, though the genre does not present an either/or situation in which women are either completely medicalized or endowed with agency and power. Rather, the agency of criminal femmes fatales is negotiated within a noir world that incorporates a discourse that oscillates between autonomy and pathologization. It can be concluded that crime by women is assessed and overseen through a complex system of interconnected cultural, social, legal, and medical discourses.

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