Manipulative Power and Brutality of Victoria

In Charlotte Dacre’s gothic novel Zofloya; or, The Moor, Victoria is shaped like the main heroine, which carries the characteristics of being manipulative, brutal and violent. The dark side of Victoria’s personality is best exemplified by her attitude towards her husband, Berenza.

Victoria used to own a rather happy family, but she has changed a lot since her mother left home. She held extremely strong revenge and cursed over her mother’s betrayal of the entire family, and this kind of thinking has directly influenced her relationship with Berenza. Her life with Berenza has been tranquil for the beginning several years, but after Berenza’s brother Henriquez came into their life, Victoria began to plan how to get rid of Berenza and eliminate Henriquez’s lover Lilla, and her cruelty gradually emerged.

In the beginning, Victoria deemed Berenza’s love as redundant and the blockade that hindered her pursuit for Henriquez’s love, so she could not hide her impatience towards Berenza. However, Berenza never noticed that, and he still showed his passionate affection to Victoria, but Victoria considered this to be rather disgusting and tried to escape from him. Poor Berenza “mistook this for the embrace of eager love, repentant at past coldness, and the accompanying action for sportive gaiety only.” (Dacre, 187) Actually, Berenza had no idea of Victoria’s change, and he still possessed the passion and love towards her. By taking advantage of Berenza’s love, Victoria could utterly control him. For poor Berenza, he viewed every move of Victoria as lovely and attractive, but Victoria hated it and never told him the truth. As Charlotte Dacre depicted, “while gazing herself with the thought-how soon he would cease to be”, (Dacre, 187) it was obvious that Victoria only had resentment over Berenza. Berenza’s innocence and pure love for Victoria did not move Victoria, but on the contrary, it just made Victoria’s coldness appear to be more prominent.

Later, after Victoria was seduced by Zofloya, she even planned to poison Berenza to death. Victoria’s desire for Henriquez occupied all her attention, so she would have to be indifferent and cruel towards Berenza. In Victoria’s crazy mind, she was quite eager to make Berenza vanish from her life so that she could obtain the opportunity to approach to Henriquez. Victoria offered Berenza the poison secretly, and Berenza should have no doubt over this. Clearly, he presented total trust and love towards her. Surprisingly, sometimes Victoria was very anxious because the poison was too slow to take effect. It was unimaginable for ordinary people to accept her cruelty and heartlessness. Compared to innocent Berenza, who showed his authentic love for Victoria, Victoria’s ruthlessness to kill him just out of her absurd idea was stunning to witness.

From Victoria’s impatience towards Berenza’s passionate love, it was evident that Victoria has completely manipulated him, and she possessed the absolutely dominant position in their relationship. After she fell in love in Henriquez, she hid the truth in front of Berenza and secretly kept planning to poison Berenza to death. Her manipulative power and brutality can be demonstrated through her attitude and behaviors over Berenza.


Works Cited

Dacre, Charlotte. Zofloya; or, The Moor. Vol. 2. London. 1806.

One thought on “Manipulative Power and Brutality of Victoria

  1. This is a very interesting response, which I think capitalizes on a central point in the novel–the danger of artifice, particularly in the hands of a sexually-driven woman. Megalena and Theresa, too, share both the sexually-driven quality and the powers of artifice (77, 105, 109). In each case, the language of “seduction” is used to join sexuality with a kind of hyper-masculinized power–notice the language of wildness, pride, fierceness, turbulence, adventurousness, and so on, all of which are associated with Victoria and Megalena. You put it well when you describe Victoria’s “absolutely dominant position.” This post is interesting in that it gets at the role of seduction in the novel; however, I wonder if it reads these characters from an unacknowledged ideological perspective. For instance, Berenza is passionately in love with Victoria–perhaps? Isn’t there anything about Berenza that we should also be suspicious of? And, remember, he is drawn to her difference, her fierceness, her wildness, her “strong and resolute mind” (76).

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