Lucas Malet: The Wages of Sin

(152 words)
  • Talia Schaffer (Queens College, CUNY )

The Wages of Sin (1890), by Lucas Malet (Mary St Leger Kingsley Harrison) is a daring and controversial novel about sexual mores. The artist James Colthurst's high-minded love for Mary Crookenden conflicts with his reluctant sense of duty towards his long-term mistress, Jenny and their child Dot. Although Colthurst appreciates Jenny's generosity and kindness, he is repulsed by her frowsy sexuality and idealises Mary's purity. The two women initially represent opposite poles, but the novel works to bring them together, connecting the virgin and the whore. At the end, Colthurst falls from the cliff where he had first seduced Jenny, a death that fulfils his own masochistic fantasies, while the New Woman Mary, set free, wanders …

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Schaffer, Talia. "The Wages of Sin". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 November 2001
[, accessed 25 September 2016.]

Related Groups

  1. Victorian Women's Writing