Caroline Reitz

Nancy Drew, Dragon Tattoo: Female Detective Fiction and the Ethics of Care

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Care Ethics; Violence; Feminism; Hard-boiled.

This paper uses the feminist framework of an ethics of care to propose solutions to some of the longstanding challenges for women in hardboiled detective fiction. It argues that Raymond Chandler, in making detective fiction about masculinity and male solidarity, prioritises gender over an abstract notion of an impartial justice. While gender solidarity provided possibilities for feminist writers, the absence of a public framework for justice often limited the solutions these detectives could provide and perpetuated an individualist ideology or traded justice for revenge. Care ethics links personal relationships and responsibilities to broader efforts at creating a more just society. The remainder of the paper tests this framework with two divergent examples of popular contemporary female detectives, Mma Ramotswe of the "No. 1 Ladies' Detective" series and Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo of the Millennium trilogy.

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