Style and Technique (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
The structure of “Dare’s Gift” is typical of the nineteenth century supernatural mystery story genre. The first half focuses on the present inexplicable behavior of the wife and her rational husband’s puzzlement. The second half focuses on the quasi-scientific explanation for an occurrence that formerly would have been considered supernatural. What the doctor provides as a scientific explanation for ghosts is the spiritual residue of a past powerful event; such events, he reasons, never really die but remain as a kind of invisible atmosphere that can “infect” the susceptible.
The narrator, a man of reason himself, tells the story in a rational, straightforward, realistic fashion, with no suggestion that the events, no matter how incredible, take place within the realm of the supernatural. The doctor, the conventional man of science, tells his story in much the same way. However, the doctor is old enough and wise enough to know that neither superstition nor science can explain everything. He has a great deal of respect for what he calls the “Incomprehensible.” Thus, the style of the doctor’s story is not only scientific but also metaphysical.
“Dare’s Gift” is a hybrid, somewhere between the early nineteenth century supernatural tale common before Edgar Allan Poe and the twentieth century psychological story that arose after Maupassant. It begins with an inexplicable phenomenon, raises the ambiguity about whether the...
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Bibliography (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
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Goodman, Susan. Ellen Glasgow. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.
McDowell, Frederick P. W. Ellen Glasgow and the Ironic Art of Fiction. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1960.
Matthews, Pamela R. Ellen Glasgow and a Woman’s Traditions. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1994.
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Rouse, Blair. Ellen Glasgow. New York: Twayne, 1962.
Scura, Dorothy M., ed. Ellen Glasgow: New Perspectives. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995.
Taylor, Welford Dunaway, and George C. Longest, eds. Regarding Ellen Glasgow: Essays for Contemporary Readers. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 2001.
Wagner, Linda W. Ellen Glasgow: Beyond Convention. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982.
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