Victorian Popular Fictions 6.1 7 Mishou


Beauty and The Beetle:

Victorian Sex, Gender, Marriage, and Monsters

A. Luxx Mishou

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“Beauty and The Beetle” approaches Richard Marsh’s 1897 novel as a love story. As its antagonist, Marsh introduces the Beetle, a gender nonconforming, shape-shifting devotee of Isis come from Egypt to seek revenge on MP Paul Lessingham for a breach of romantic promise. The identity of the villain remains critically elusive, as scholars grapple with the complexities of categorical identities and the challenge of a hyper-sexual figure who is neither man nor woman. This article argues that the paradox of the Beetle’s identity is best resolved through an understanding of identity beyond a binary: that the Beetle actively self-identifies as both nonbinary and sexually active, and is capable of self-identification and romantic navigation in an imperialist, heteronormative binary culture. The horror of the novel is the social threat the Beetle poses, rather than violence: their ability to disrupt heteronormative domestic structures through their romantic overtures and expectations.


The Beetle; gender theory; gender nonconformity; queer relationships; beauty standards; marriage; romance; monsters; reputation

Date of Acceptance: 24 June 2024

Date of Publication: 28 June 2024

Double Blind Peer Reviewed

Recommended Citation:

Mishou, A. Luxx. 2024. “Beauty and The Beetle: Victorian Sex, Gender, Marriage, and Monsters.” Victorian Popular Fictions, 6.1: 90-102. ISSN: 2632-4253 (online) DOI: https://‌

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