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Does the Letter of the Law Always Arrive at Its Destination? "A Study in Feminine Psychology"

Maria Aristodemou
Law and Literature
Vol. 22, No. 3 (Fall 2010), pp. 394-417
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the Cardozo School of Law
DOI: 10.1525/lal.2010.22.3.394
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/lal.2010.22.3.394
Page Count: 24
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Does the Letter of the Law Always Arrive at Its Destination? "A Study in Feminine Psychology"
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Abstract

This paper uses Balzac's short story "A Study in Feminine Psychology" as a springboard from which to explore what position the letter of the law occupies in a subject's psychic space. Through this tale of a misaddressed declaration of love, the paper examines how the law and the signifier arrest the subject, and what freedom, if any, the subject has to maneuvre around this position. Are subjects condemned, as Balzac seems to suggest in this tragicomic tale, never to fully find, let alone assume, their own satisfying place "before the law"? Or that they can never do so without some embarrassment and/or pain? If the letter of the law always arrives at its destination, if the subject is always arrested by the signifier, what hope is there for protest or critique? In conclusion, the paper considers whether subjects on the feminine side of the formula of sexuation have greater capacity to transcend and transgress the letter of the law than subjects on the masculine side.

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