Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)



First Advisor

Barbara Black

Second Advisor

Mason Stokes


This paper explores Victorian and contemporary challenges to the Victorian femme fatale by comparing Yorgos Lanthimos' 2023 film Poor Things with Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights and Vernon Lee's "Oke of Okehurst." It examines how each work constructs and deconstructs the figure of the femme fatale by placing their female protagonists in otherworldly settings that break the boundaries of conventional Victorian norms. Lanthimos' film presents Bella Baxter as a liberated "Other" in a whimsical, fantastical world, contrasting with the tragic fates of Catherine Earnshaw and Alice Oke, who are grounded in realism despite their otherworldly settings. The paper's analysis highlights the role of the otherworldly in achieving liberation and critiques the sanctioning and regulation of othered bodies. It uses Michel Foucault's and Steven Marcus’s theories on Victorian sexuality as well as interpretations of medical discourse to contextualize Victorian societal constraints. The paper concludes by suggesting that the imaginative and liberated world of Poor Things challenges and expands upon the rigid archetypes established in 19th-century literature in a similar way as Brontë and Lee, yet does so through a lens of fantasy and comedy. While offering a critique of the film’s tone, the paper suggests that its disruption of the femme fatale trope is a continued move towards the liberation of the Other.