Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Kevin O'Brien

Second Advisor

Justine Van Meter

Third Advisor

Joanna Levin


This dissertation will explore the way Philip treats puppets and masks as pseudo-sacred objects in order to maintain control in Angela Carter’s work The Magic Toyshop. To show the implications of the pseudo-sacred, I will use Violence and the Sacred by Rene Girard that examines the way primitive cultures are able to maintain order through particular religious beliefs and collective violence against a scapegoat. My critical reading of the text will look closely at how Philip uses the pseudo-sacred to build up the community. When the pseudo-sacred is finally called into question the community is threatened. Although Philip attempts to deflect blame onto the scapegoat Melanie, he fails as there is no social buy-in, leading to the destruction of the community. While the house is burned down destroying the puppets and masks, presumably along with Philip, the pseudo-sacred still has the chance of being perpetuated through Finn’s own obsession with power and control.



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