Dissection of Patricia Cornwell's feminist woman detective Kay Scarpetta

Carme Farré Vidal

Abstract


This analysis of Kay Scarpetta acknowledges the importance of feminism in the identity of this woman detective. Kay Scarpetta contests patriarchy from the root: she is a forensic anthropologist with the necessary intellectual abilities and expertise for the pursuit of criminals. She has the power to solve the murder, the patriarchal privilege enjoyed by the traditional male detective, but her characterisation retains feminine characteristics, too: she can admit to be afraid in the face of danger and she cares for victims, those lying on her autopsy table – many of whom are women – but also the ones left behind. Kay Scarpetta’s identity leads her to expose the forms that women’s victimisation can take in a society based on prioritising men’s privileges. The obstacles that Kay Scarpetta has to overcome in order to expose patriarchy will not discourage her, though, since her ultimate goal is to help dignity and equality prevail.

Keywords


Feminist detective fiction; Kay Scarpetta; equality; patriarchy; abuse of power; women’s victimisation

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18172/jes.180

Copyright (c) 2012 Carme Farré Vidal

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© Universidad de La Rioja, 2013

ISSN 1576-6357

EISSN 1695-4300