Manipulation, Stalking, Violence: Women's Victimisation in Selected Novels by Patricia Duncker

Term Paper, 2013

17 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Women’s Victimisation: A Definition

3. The Deadly Space Between
3.1. Main Type of Victimisation: Manipulation
3.2. Introspection and Perception by Others

4. The Strange Case of the Composer and his Judge
4.1. Main Type of Victimisation: Stalking
4.2. Introspection and Perception by Others

5. Seven Tales of Sex and Death
5.1. Main Type of Victimisation: Violence
5.2. Introspection and Perception by Others

6. Victim-offender-relationship: A Short Comparison

7. Conclusion


1. Introduction

In the course of the seminar “Patricia Duncker’s Fiction” we read, analysed and discussed several works by the British author that all had the similarity of being mysterious, uncanny and captivating. What made these attributes arise was not only the thrilling plot but also the character constellation. Most of the works contain only two or three protagonists and the particularity that the relationship between these protagonists only seems to be harmonious but that is actually based on an unequal balance of power. While one character is superior and dominates the thoughts and actions of the other person, the latter is not able to escape or prevent this inferiority leading to fear, confusion or even death. Interestingly enough, one can state that in Patricia Duncker’s works this unequal relationship is not arbitrary in reference to sexes but often portrays women as victims and men as offenders. In some cases the victim and the offender are even lovers which make it difficult to recognise the offender’s obsession with the victim from the beginning. Moreover, it is conspicuous that every work contains different types of women’s victimisation, i.e. manipulation, stalking and violence but that each work clearly focuses on one type in particular. Consequently, all works together contribute to the reader’s understanding about the range and varieties of this recurring topic.

In this term paper I will focus on this victimisation of women in Patricia Duncker’s works and analyse The Deadly Space Between, The Strange Case of the Composer and His Judge and the short story Stalker in Seven Tales of Sex and Death. At first, I will give a short definition of the term victimisation in a sociological context and explain the above mentioned typical subcategories. Then, I will analyse the focused type of victimisation in the different works in order to show that more than one of the mentioned types of victimisation appear but that one of them always predominates. To understand how the victimisation is carried out I will afterwards also look at the victim’s introspection and perception by others. In the next step, I will do a short comparison of the victimisation and victims in the different works and finally, as a conclusion, sum up the main findings and give an outlook over further possibilities to expand the topic.

2. Women’s Victimisation: A Definition

Victimisation can be stated as the process of victimising somebody, so “to make somebody suffer unfairly because you do not like them, their opinion or something they have done” (“victimise”, Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary). This suffering implies both physical and psychological suffering and can affect men and women equally. However, it is important to differentiate between the two sexes. Survey data show that “victimisation in generally higher for males than for females [but that] the exception to this pattern is rape” (Davies 30). In addition, the survey states that “for some victimisations age combined with sex renders women more at risk” (ibid.) which again refers to young or middle age women and rape or sexual violence as means of victimisation. In these cases, it is more likely that men are the offenders of these crimes, especially if a love relationship precedes the victimisation so that the offender can make a trustworthy impression on his victim. Then, the first step is often manipulation, “the secret exertion of influence or the imposition of rules” (Coxall 4). Due to love, trust and goodwill, the victimised person is blind to the possible harmful behaviour of the offender, does not realise that she is being used and hurt and becomes then the victim of this delusion. As a consequence, it is possible that the person behaves differently than usual or cuts herself off from known people around. This then results in a strong relationship of dependence as the offender remains the only close person.

Another, stronger form of victimisation is stalking in the sense of harassment. Bran explains that

[…] stalking as we understand it now is not limited to one particular location or time-frame, nor one method of pursuit. Stalking involves repeated, persistent, unsolicited communications or physical approaches to the victim. It can involve letters, telephone calls, text messages, e-mails and other signs that the stalker has visited. [Additionally], a stalker may follow the victim, or keep watch on his or her house. (Bran 17)

This explanation highlights what the victim has to endure: a permanent observation both in public and the domestic space. Especially, the fact of feeling unsafe and loosing privacy in the own home weighs heavily on the victim’s psyche. One special type of stalking is “partner stalking […] which occurs between current or ex-intimate partners [making] up a large, if not the largest, category of stalking perpetrators among women reporting stalking victimization” (Logan 4) The reason for this victimisation is then often unattained love, obsessive love or also revenge as a result of a separation. According to female victims there are several different stalking tactics that can be organized into five categories of stalking behaviour: “surveillance, harassing behaviour, threats, property destruction or invasion, and physical harm” (Logan 18). Most of the stalking therefore takes place indirectly and does more affect the victim’s mental health than the physical one.

However, victimisation can also occur in form of severe violence, in particular in women’s victimisation carried out by men. The perpetrators can be again both known people such as (ex-)partners or friends and unknown people who are just looking for a victim. Violent crimes against women often imply sexual attacks or rape. They are then not only victims of an action they do not want but, in addition, have afterwards traumatic feelings of “guilt, shame, and self-blame” (Tierney 1185) which may lead to a lost quality of life and a concealment of facts due to fear. Women then do not report what happened in front of the police in order to punish the perpetrator but remain silent as they fear to see him again or to be threatened. These threatenings often also go beyond extortion meaning death threats. In the worst cases of sexual violence against women the victims do not even have the opportunity to report to the police as the victims are killed subsequent to the act. Murder therefore represents the most extreme form of victimisation through violence.

3. The Deadly Space Between

3.1. Main Type of Victimisation: Manipulation

In The Deadly Space Between the victim-offender-relationship of the two main protagonists Isobel Hawk and Roehm can be analysed as an example for manipulation as the main type of victimisation. Even if Isobel is presented as a strong, emancipated woman who works successfully as a painter and raises her son on her own, the reader soon gets the impression that she is more and more externally controlled by Roehm in the course of the story. Only at the end it is revealed that Isobel also had to suffer other forms of victimisation: violence and stalking.

In the beginning the manipulation does not come to the surface as her behaviour can also be interpreted as the one of a woman who is simply in love with her boyfriend: “[She] is watching him, smiling [,] nodding [and] grinning” (The Deadly Space Between 31). Also his behaviour towards her does not seem to be unusual. He tries to make a good impression by making friends with her son and giving her presents. But the more the story develops, the more Roehm is present and tries to charm her into doing everything he wants. For the reader this manipulation therefore starts by the way he influences her family in order to make her proud of having him as a partner. Her son Toby is soon fascinated by his appearance so that Roehm even “fills [his] days and [his] dreams” (131) and also Lucy and Liberty are starting to sympathise with Roehm, not only after getting extremely well chosen Christmas presents (cf. 118) but also because they cannot prove their initial mistrust against him. Knowing that he has made a good impression one the persons closest to his victim, Roehm then tries to capture another part of Isobel’s life namely her work. Apparently he succeeds as “her paintings [begin] to change” (131) from her typical bright “ice giants” (ibid.) to new, coloured “horror comics” (ibid.), obviously a sudden change that is normally not made by a professional painter from one day to the next and, according to her son, does not fit her personality. But the moment where Toby criticizes her new work, Isobel does not accept his opinion and worries but, instead, even gets angry when Toby tries to talk about her change. Roehm therefore already has manipulated her in a way that she seems to trust him more and attaches more value in his opinion than in Toby’s. Even if the reader does not know how he manipulated her, it becomes obvious that he has achieved since she finally throws Toby out of the house with the simply explanation: “I’ve chosen Roehm” (143). For Isobel it seems not be possible to live together with both her son and Roehm at the same time, maybe because it was Roehm who gave her an ultimatum to choose between him and Toby. From this point onwards, Roehm’s strategy of manipulation becomes visible: first he wants to have the family’s approval and then tries to tear apart his victim from her beloved, in this case, from what remained from her family – her son Toby. Isobel then is eventually the victim of her feelings for Roehm with whom she has to stay as he is the only close person left.


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Manipulation, Stalking, Violence: Women's Victimisation in Selected Novels by Patricia Duncker
University of Paderborn
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Patricia Duncker, Victimisation, The Strange Case of the Composer and His Judge, The Deadly Space Between, Hallucinating Foucault
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Cristina dSF (Author), 2013, Manipulation, Stalking, Violence: Women's Victimisation in Selected Novels by Patricia Duncker, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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