Cosslett, Anna (2003) 'Animals Under Man?': Margaret Gatty's 'Parables from Nature'. Women's Writing, 10 (1). pp. 137-152. ISSN 1747-5848
Margaret Gatty’s Parables from Nature (1855-71) use the form of the moral tale for children to conduct a polemic against Tennysonian doubt, cleverly deploying the voices of talking animals and plants. The perspectives of animals, plants and children are valorised above those of arrogant male doubters. When this happens, the ironies Gatty uses can escape control, and lead to more subversive readings than the overt message, overturning the conventional hierarchies she has set up. The voices of the marginalised take over the centre, and comic inversion privileges the unprivileged, in a carnivalesque celebration of possibilities that terrify Tennyson, rather than the orthodox rebuttal of doubt called for by the feminine role. The article revalues Gatty’s 'feminine' and ‘animal’s-eye’ take on the problems about the natural world that exercise Tennyson and other canonical male writers, including Darwin and Hardy.
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