Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion

IV.2 Hudson

After Roderick’s return from Baden-Baden, Rowland begins to worry feminine influences on Roderick. After falling in “with some very idle people”  While in Baden-Baden, Roderick confesses to Rowland that he entangled himself in leisurely courtship and, it is implied, returns with newly acquired feminine mannerisms: “[Roderick] had discovered the charms of emulation. . . . He passed [the time] in dangling about several very pretty women.” Within such society, Roderick learned “that to seem to have money, and to have it in fact, exposed a good-looking young man to peculiar liabilities.” At this point, Rowland recalls William Thackeray’s Madame de Cruchecassée, a promiscuous female character whose feminine sexuality accounts for her wealth and social status. French for “broken jug,” “Cruchecassée” may also insinuate Rowland’s conjecture that Roderick's flagrancy has ruined his prospects. Thus, the gourd, from which the boy drinks in Roderick’s Thirst statuette, has now been shattered.

Roderick suggests that he is aware of an inner duality that is underscored by a gender binary framework: “The will, I believe, is the mystery of mysteries. Who can answer for his will? who can say beforehand that it’s strong? There are all kinds of indefinable currents moving to and fro between one's will and one's inclinations. People talk as if the two things were essentially distinct; on different sides of one's organism, like the heart and the liver. Mine I know are much nearer together." The energy that Roderick exudes is implied, from the novel’s start, a confounded blur between thee neurosis of a masculine "hereditary genius"* and a case of feminine hysteria. "Indefinable currents" suggests that Roderick's neurasthenic behavior is akin to internal electricity. George Junkin Preston's pseudoscientific 1897 treatise identifies
"electric sensibility" as a symptom of female hysteria. 

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