Author: Prerana Chakravarty, Tezpur University, Assam, India
Published: July 29, 2022
Citation: Chakravarty, P. (2022). Dangerous Femininity: Looking into the Portrayal of Daphne Monet as a Femme Fatale in Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijah.9.1.05
The phrase “femme fatale” is a well-known figure in the literary and cultural representations of women. Associated with evil temptation, the femme fatale is an iconic figure that has been appropriated into folklore, literature, and mythology. In the twentieth century, the figure finds space in literary and cinematic endeavours, particularly in crime fiction and noir thrillers. The progenitors of the hard-boiled genre of detective fiction popularised the figure of a sexually seductive and promiscuous woman who betrays men for material gain. Walter Mosley, an African American detective fiction writer, adapted the hard-boiled formula popularised by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, but altered it to address socio-political issues concerning the condition of African Americans in the post-World War II era. Mosley followed Chandler’s lead in weaving a quest narrative around femme fatale Daphne Monet in his first novel, Devil in a Blue Dress (1990). The purpose of this paper is to look at Mosley’s treatment of the femme fatale figure in this novel. The methodology employed is a close analysis of the text, as well as an analysis of the figure of the femme fatale in its function as catalyst for men’s behaviour. The purpose of this study is to examine how the femme fatale was created, specifically what elements contributed to Daphne Monet’s transformation into a femme fatale.
crime, femme fatale, racial identity, sexuality, transgression