Critical Essays (Gothic Literature)
Gothic Themes, Settings, and Figures
Gothic literature has influenced and inspired several subgenres of literature, including the supernatural tale, the ghost story, horror fiction, and vampire literature. Many critics have analyzed the connections between these subgenres and the Gothic tradition, as well as some of the most widely-discussed themes, figures, and settings found in Gothic literature and works in these various subgenres.
While belief in the supernatural served as the basis for the mythologies of early civilizations, and afterward remained an enduring aspect of world folklore, it was not until the nineteenth century that a substantial body of works evolved that focused upon the otherworldly as a source of horror. Although Gothic novelists often included supernatural incidents in their works, they also pursued other concerns, particularly those related to eighteenth-century morals and manners. Such concerns precluded the single-minded focus and inventiveness of their successors in portraying weird and ghostly phenomena. The Gothic novel was characterized by intricate but often loosely constructed plots and subplots, stock characters such as the naive young woman and the lascivious male villain, and a medieval setting, such as a haunted, ruined castle. In contrast, nineteenth-century supernatural fiction often takes the form of the short story, which critics agree is better suited to achieving the effect of horror, and features more thoroughly developed characters and contemporary settings.
The growth of popular magazines increased the proliferation of supernatural tales, and "penny dreadfuls" provided the working class with serialized tales of the macabre, such as Varney the Vampire; or, The Feast of Blood (1847), written by either Thomas Peckett Prest or James Malcolm Rymer. Alternatively, some critics assert that, rather than serving as an escapist diversion from rigid social norms, the ghost story, advancing the idea that wrongdoers and eccentrics incur the wrath of ghosts, defended the status quo by discouraging rebellion against one's position in society. Nineteenth-century supernatural fiction has also been viewed as a reaction against the materialism and rationalist philosophy that accompanied the rapid social changes brought about by the industrial revolution, during which an older, more stable way of life, with its traditional ways of thinking, was eclipsed by technological progress and the routines of urban life. The struggle between religion and science became an important issue as new theories that challenged traditional beliefs were advanced, most prominently Charles Darwin's speculations on human evolution.
Although a few commentators have maintained that a literalistic belief in the supernatural has always been, and will always be, a prerequisite for the creation and enjoyment of horror tales, most critics propose special reasons to explain the relatively recent phenomenon of supernatural fiction as a literary form. Among these reasons, one is most often given: the nineteenth century was an age of scientific and technological advancement that had distanced itself from many of the superstitions of the past; as a consequence, it was precisely these superstitions, exiled from the progressive consciousness of the day, that emerged in the works of literature. A corollary to this theory states that because earlier societies assumed the supernatural as part of the cosmic order, its manifestations could not inflict that dread peculiar to modern humanity. This explanation has been most prominently articulated by Sigmund Freud in his 1919 essay "Das Unheimlich" ("The Uncanny"), and is based on the assumption that beneath the surface of civilized skepticism survive all the irrational beliefs of humanity's past. Thus, a common storyline in Gothic and horror fiction involves an unbelieving protagonist to whom it is proven—with unpleasant consequences—that some aspect of the supernatural is true.
While supernatural fiction emerged as a distinct literary form in the Victorian era, it was also during this period that the focus of the genre began to shift away from confrontations with ghostly phenomena toward character psychology. Supernatural fiction had often addressed, albeit unwittingly, the concerns of the inchoate field of psychology by rendering unresolved inner conflict in a symbolic manner that is exemplified in the standard plot of a murderer haunted by the ghost of his victim, which then represents the murderer's guilty conscience. Critics commonly read such works as Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) and those in Arthur Machen's The Great God Pan and the Inmost Light (1894) as allegories of humankind's struggle with instinctual needs and drives, laying bare the dark side of the human soul. Many observers maintain that supernatural fiction underwent a significant change when Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu introduced, with his "Green Tea" (1869), the apparition that may in fact be a product of the mind. This type of story was later developed with great success by Henry James in his novella The Turn of the Screw (1898). Thus, the legacy of supernatural fiction, somewhat paradoxically, has been a tendency among modern fiction writers to favor psychological horrors over those that have their roots in the archaic and essentially pastoral lore based on the existence of the supernatural.
Despite all contentions that supernatural fiction suffered a decline in the early decades of the twentieth century, this literary genre has continued to flourish and grow in popularity, assisted by television and movie adaptations and imitations. Although some might contend that it has radically changed in quality and substance, becoming merely a source of income for hack writers who exploit the more sensationalistic aspects of the form, horror fiction has always been allied to the lower types of commercial literature, from the "shilling shockers" of the Gothic period to the mass-market "pageturners" of the present day. Even those authors who are recognized as the most profound and artistic practitioners of literary supernaturalism, such as Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft, are often criticized as hopelessly vulgar and categorized far below the level of serious artists. At the same time, the highest examples of the supernatural genre have endured for the same reason as the more accepted classics of literature—their power to express through the medium of language some significant aspect of human experience. In the perception of many readers and critics, the works of such authors as Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, and Walter de la Mare do not "transcend" the essential traits of supernatural fiction but rather bring them to perfection. As Lovecraft stated in his 1945 study Supernatural Horror in Literature: "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. These facts few psychologists will dispute, and their admitted truth must establish for all time the genuineness and dignity of the weirdly horrible tale as a literary form."
The theme of the doppelgänger (the double, or "second self") is prominent in nineteenth-century literature, from stories by E. T. A. Hoffmann in Germany to works of Robert Louis Stevenson in Great Britain, Edgar Allan Poe in the United States, and countless others. Although stories as ancient as the Greek myth of Narcissus feature characters' fascination with their mirror images, and numerous folk tales center on the mysterious relation between a person and his or her shadow, the double as a dominant element in an artistic work was the creation of the German Romantics. Critics commonly note the appearance of the double in such earlier works as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's drama Faust (1808), presenting in Siebenkäs and his friend Leibgeber two intimately connected figures who are clearly meant to be taken as aspects of a single personality. Subsequently the German fantasist and musician Hoff-mann imaginatively and forcefully exploited the artistic potential of doubling in numerous short stories, including "Der Sandmann" (1817; "The Sandman"), and in the novel Die Elixiere des Teufels (1815–16; The Devil's Elixir), which explores the power of demonic forces over a person's existence. Hoffmann conjured up the doppelgänger, or double: a tangible and wholly independent embodiment of sinister powers. Hoffmann's doubles draw from both human psychology and belief in the supernatural, reflecting nineteenth-century interest in scientific psychology but also retaining a link to occult traditions. As writers strove to explain duality according to the laws of reason and common sense, the double became an important metaphor of humankind's struggle to reconcile opposing inner forces, such as destructiveness and creativity. Moreover, as the consequences of the industrial revolution became apparent, writers increasingly began to express in their works the idea of the divided self as a reaction to unnatural pressures exerted on the individual by an alienating society. Many works, such as Guy de Maupassant's "Le Horla" (1886), Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Fyodor Dostoevsky's Dvoinik: Prikliucheniia gospodina Goliadkina (1846; The Double: A Poem of St. Petersburg), Poe's "William Wilson" (1840), and Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), feature doubles.
While the vampire can be traced throughout literary history and world folklore to antiquity, vampirism as the focus of narrative and theme in works of literature first became prominent in the early nineteenth century. John William Polidori's novella The Vampyre, published in 1819, is generally considered to be the first work of vampire fiction and introduced several traits of the literary vampire, including a deathlike countenance and hypnotic powers. This work sparked popular interest, and a deluge of vampire stories followed, most prominently Varney the Vampyre. Another influential work of vampire literature was Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's "Carmilla" (1871–72), which depicted a lesbian relationship between vampire and victim, further expanding the conventions of vampirism to include an ambiguous sexual attraction between predator and prey, the vampire's aversion to religious symbols, and aspects of sadism. With the publication of Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1897, the popular conception of vampires and their portrayal in literature became codified, resulting in the familiar stereotype of an aristocratic bloodsucker who preys upon beautiful young women. Stoker's novel has been the focus of diverse social, psychological, and historical interpretations. Many critics, for example, have asserted that the work is an admonition against deviant sexual behavior, emphasizing the association between vampires and the subversion of Christian and Victorian morality. Although much twentieth- and twenty-first-century vampire fiction incorporates characteristics of the nineteenth-century vampire, commentators have noted a trend toward depictions of vampires as sympathetic and morally ambiguous characters, such as Louis in Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire (1976), which contrasts with the traditional image of the vampire as threatening and thoroughly evil. Both as character and as symbol, critics find that the vampire in literature serves to reflect society's views on sexuality, death, religion, and the role of women, and functions as a psychological metaphor for humanity's most profound fears and desires.
Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. 4 vols. (novels) 1818
Orra: a Tragedy, in Five Acts (play) 1812
The Damnation Game (novel) 1985
The Hellbound Heart (novella) 1986; published in the collection Night Visions 3, edited by George R. R. Martin; published separately, 1988
★Vathek (novel) 1787
The Empty House, and Other Ghosts (short stories) 1906
Ancient Sorceries, and Other Tales (short stories) 1927
The Dance of Death, and Other Tales (short stories) 1927
The Tales of Algernon Blackwood (short stories) 1938
Wuthering Heights [as Ellis Bell] (novel) 1847
Charles Brockden Brown
Edgar Huntly; or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker. 3 vols. (novel) 1799
Zanoni. 3 vols. (novel) 1842
Lucretia; or, The Children of Night. 3 vols. (novel) 1846
A Strange Story. 2 vols. (novel) 1862
George Gordon Noel, Lord Byron
The Giaour: A Fragment of a Turkish Tale (poetry) 1813
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SOURCE: Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. "The Three Graves: A Fragment of a Sexton's Tale." In Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Selected Poems, edited with an introduction and notes by Richard Holmes, pp. 69-80. New York: Penguin Group, 1994.
The following poem was composed by Coleridge in 1797, and first published in the journal The Friend in 1809. Coleridge explains in his preface that his own fragment of this ballad is based upon a poem (which Coleridge summarizes) written by William Wordsworth.
"The Author has published the following humble fragment, encouraged by the decisive recommendation of more than one of our most celebrated living Poets. The language was intended to be dramatic; that is, suited to the narrator; and the metre corresponds to the homeliness of the diction. It is therefore presented as the fragment, not of a Poem, but of a common Ballad-tale. Whether this is sufficient to justify the adoption of such a style, in any metrical composition not professedly ludicrous, the Author is himself in some doubt. At all events, it is not presented as poetry, and it is in no way connected with the Author's judgment concerning poetic diction. Its merits, if any, are exclusively psychological. The story which must be supposed to have been narrated in the first and second parts is as follows:—
"Edward, a young farmer, meets at the house of...
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SOURCE: Byron, George Gordon Noel, Lord. "Fragment of a Novel." In Three Gothic Novels: The Castle of Otranto, Vathek, The Vampyre, edited by E. F. Bleiler, pp. 287-91. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1966.
The following novel fragment, written in 1816 but first published as an appendix to Byron's Mazeppa in 1819, served as John Polidori's inspiration and model for his novella, The Vampyre. Byron composed the fragment during the competition between Polidori, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, and himself, during which Mary Shelley produced her 1818 novel, Frankenstein.
June 17, 1816
"In the year 17—, having for some time determined on a journey through countries not hitherto much frequented by travellers, I set out, accompanied by a friend, whom I shall designate by the name of Augustus Darvell. He was a few years my elder, and a man of considerable fortune and ancient family: advantages which an extensive capacity prevented him alike from undervaluing or overrating. Some peculiar circumstances in his private history had rendered him to me an object of attention, of interest, and even of regard, which neither the reserve of his manners, nor occasional indications of an inquietude at times nearly approaching to alienation of mind, could...
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SOURCE: Polidori, John William. The Vampyre: A Tale. 1819. Reprinted in The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre, edited with an introduction and notes by Robert Morrison and Chris Baldick, pp. 265-83. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
The following excerpt is from Polidori's novella, written in 1816 and first published in 1819 in New Monthly Magazine.
Next morning Aubrey set off upon his excursion unattended; he was surprised to observe the melancholy face of his host, and was concerned to find that his words, mocking the belief of those horrible fiends, had inspired them with such terror.—When he was about to depart, Ianthe came to the side of his horse and earnestly begged of him to return, ere night allowed the power of these beings to be put in action—he promised. He was, however, so occupied in his research that he did not perceive that day-light would soon end, and that in the horizon there was one of those specks which in the warmer climates so rapidly gather into a tremenduous mass and pour all their rage upon the devoted country.—He at last, however, mounted his horse, determined to make up by speed for his delay: but it was too late. Twilight in these southern climates is almost unknown; immediately the sun sets, night begins; and ere he had advanced far, the power of the storm was above—its echoing thunders had scarcely an...
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SOURCE: Railo, Eino. “Other Themes.” In The Haunted Castle: A Study of the Elements of English Romanticism. 1927. Reprint, pp. 299-318. New York: Gordon Press, 1974.
In the following essay, originally published in 1927, Railo comments on the major themes present in early Gothic literature.
I have already remarked that from Walpole onward a common and important feature of terror-romantic literature is its preoccupation with an atmosphere of oppression and innocence in danger, the development of situations based on persecution and a constant fleeing from pursuit. The basis on which the whole plot rests is usually some form of usurpation, an old crime, or the like; but the actual impulse is derived from this state of danger and persecution; it furnishes the suspense necessary to keep up the reader’s interest. The creation of a state of suspense is not altogether a literary invention of the romanticists, as it played an important part not only in Shakespeare, but in the works of such writers as Fielding and Smollett. Nevertheless it must be admitted that romantic authors of Mrs. Radcliffe’s type made it an aim in itself, devoting hundreds of pages to the creation of situations whose sole purpose was to expose the most likeable characters to danger and in this manner evoke the greatest possible fright and suspense on their behalf, a...
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SOURCE: Lovecraft, H. P. "The Aftermath of Gothic Fiction." In Supernatural Horror in Literature. 1945. Reprint edition, edited by E. F. Bleiler, pp. 36-44. New York: Dover, 1973.
In the following essay, first published in 1945, renowned horror and science fiction writer Lovecraft surveys the development of the Gothic in major and minor literary works written during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
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Haunted Dwellings And The Supernatural
SOURCE: Joshi, S. T. "Shirley Jackson: Domestic Horror." Studies in Weird Fiction 14 (winter 1994): 9-28.
In the following essay, Joshi surveys Jackson's works, noting the difficulties inherent in attempting to classify them by genre, and discussing Jackson's horrific inversion of societal ideals of human relationships and homelife in her works, particularly in The Haunting of Hill House.
Shirley Jackson (1916–1965)1 and Ramsey Campbell are the two leading writers of weird fiction since Lovecraft. In making this assertion I am not merely bypassing other writers who, at least in their own minds, aspire to that title—in particular the best-selling quartet of Stephen King, Peter Straub, Anne Rice, and Clive Barker—but am making the problematical assertion that Jackson is a weird writer at all. It is true that only one of her novels is avowedly supernatural—the masterful Haunting of Hill House (1959)—while others are weird only slightly or not at all; it is also true that perhaps at most fifteen or twenty of her hundredodd short stories can be said to belong either to the weird tale or to the mystery story or to science fiction.2 Certainly there is nothing supernatural about "The Lottery" (1948), whose impact rests on the very possibility of its occurrence. But I wish to place Jackson within the realm of weird fiction...
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SOURCE: Oakes, David A. "Ghosts in the Machines: The Haunted Castle in the Works of Stephen King and Clive Barker." Studies in Weird Fiction 24 (winter 1999): 25-33.
In the following essay, Oakes highlights the modernization and transformation of the traditional Gothic setting of the haunted castle in works by Stephen King and Clive Barker.
Imagine, for a moment, that you are sitting down to read Stephen King's disturbing short novel, The Mist. However, instead of being a frightening tale of a group of people trapped in a grocery store by a sinister mist that hides fantastic creatures, you find the novel to be a mildly amusing diversion because it tells how the mist engulfs and traps David Drayton and his friends in a castle. Envision how strange King's "Trucks" would be if the truck stop being besieged by the vehicles was a large castle. What if Clive Barker's "The Hellbound Heart" did not require the use of a puzzle box to summon the Cenobites, but, rather, demanded that the characters travel to the ruins of an ancient fortress to summon these strange entities? Or suppose that Arnie Cunningham, in King's Christine, purchased and decided to repair a castle possessed by a ghost rather than the cursed red-and-white Plymouth Fury? Although the haunted castle was a crucial, even indispensable, element of early works of Gothic literature, the use of it...
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SOURCE: Mighall, Robert. "Haunted Houses I and II." In A Geography of Victorian Gothic Fiction: Mapping History's Nightmares, pp. 78-129. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
In the following excerpt, Mighall studies how the "theme of the ancestral curse was adapted by the Gothic fiction of the nineteenth century" to explore the manifestation of hereditary disease—a new topic in scientific literature of the time—using the device of the haunted house.
Those who have quitted the world, and those who are not arrived at it, are as remote from each other as the utmost stretch of mortal imagination can conceive: What possible obligation, then, can exist between them; what rule or principle can be laid down, that of two non-entities, the one out of existence, and the other not in, and who can never meet in this world, the one should control the other to the end of time?
(Thomas Paine, Rights of Man)
'Oh, Bertram-Haugh! how came you by those lofty walls? Which of my ancestors had begirt me with an impassable barrier in this horrible straight?'
(J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Uncle Silas, 1864)
The previous chapter examined the emergence of an Urban Gothic in the first half of the nineteenth century, showing...
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Psychology And The Gothic
SOURCE: Freud, Sigmund. "The Uncanny." In The Uncanny, by Sigmund Freud, translated by David McLintock, pp. 123-62. New York: Penguin, 2003.
In the following excerpt from an essay first published in Imago in 1919 as "Das Unheimlich" and considered the quintessential work on the subject of the uncanny, Freud defines the uncanny, provides examples of how it is exemplified in E. T. A. Hoffmann's story "The Sandman," and explains how the uncanny functions within the context of human psychology.
If we now go on to review the persons and things, the impressions, processes and situations that can arouse an especially strong and distinct sense of the uncanny in us, we must clearly choose an appropriate example to start with. E. Jentsch singles out, as an excellent case, 'doubt as to whether an apparently animate object really is alive and, conversely, whether a lifeless object might not perhaps be animate'. In this connection he refers to the impressions made on us by waxwork figures, ingeniously constructed dolls and automata. To these he adds the uncanny effect produced by epileptic fits and the manifestations of insanity, because these arouse in the onlooker vague notions of automatic—mechanical—processes that may lie hidden behind the familiar image of a living person. Now, while not wholly convinced by the author's arguments,...
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SOURCE: Rank, Otto. "The Double as Immortal Self." In Beyond Psychology, by Otto Rank, pp. 62-101. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1958.
In the following excerpt from an essay first published in 1941, Rank outlines the concept of the double as a symbol of the supernatural, or "immortal," self.
Our view of human behaviour as extending beyond individual psychology to a broader conception of personality indicates that civilized man does not act only upon the rational guidance of his intellectual ego nor is he driven blindly by the mere elemental forces of his instinctual self. Mankind's civilization, and with it the various types of personality representing and expressing it, has emerged from the perpetual operation of a third principle, which combines the rational and irrational elements in a world-view based on the conception of the supernatural. This not only holds good for primitive group-life carried forward on a magical world-view, but is still borne out in our highly mechanized civilization by the vital need for spiritual values. Man, no matter under how primitive conditions, never did live on a purely biological, that is, on a simple natural basis. The most primitive people known to us show strange and complicated modes of living which become intelligible only from their supernatural meaning.
Although this has been recognized by modern...
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SOURCE: Punter, David. "Narrative and Psychology in Gothic Fiction." In Gothic Fictions: Prohibition/Transgression, edited and with an afterword by Kenneth W. Graham, pp. 1-27. New York: AMS, 1989.
In the following essay, Punter assesses Gothic fiction within the context of the psychoanalytic theories of Melanie Klein.
In this essay, I want to try to bring together some of the crucial features of Gothic fiction with one or two of the insights to be derived from psychoanalysis, but psychoanalysis of a particular kind: the school of psychoanalysis particularly associated with Melanie Klein, the so-called British School, which is also sometimes referred to under the heading of "object-relations psychology." In trying for this connection I am not simply practising an arbitrary yoking together of the heterogeneous. I believe that Kleinian psychoanalysis is very important, for several reasons. Mainly, I take it to be capable of generating accounts of what it might mean to be human. What I mean by that is that the Kleinian approach is one which does not shirk the complexity of the connections between thought and feeling; it does not shrink from owning to the destructiveness which proves so frequently disastrous to the best-intended schemes of political and social progress; it attempts to describe the growth of the individual in ways which assume that, from the outset,...
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SOURCE: Thomas, Ronald R. "Recovering Nightmares: Nineteenth-Century Gothic." In Dreams of Authority: Freud and the Fictions of the Unconscious, pp. 71-81. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1990.
In the following excerpt, Thomas focuses on the relationship between dreams and Gothic literature, in terms of psychology as well as narrative style.
It is within the experience of many medical practitioners, that a patient, with strange and unusual symptoms, has been more distressed in mind, more wretched, from the fact of being unintelligible to himself and others, than from the pain or danger of the disease.
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria
The high esteem in which dream-life is held by some schools of philosophy … is clearly an echo of the divine nature of dreams which was undisputed in antiquity…. For attempts at giving a psychological explanation have been inadequate to cover the material collected, however decidedly the sympathies of those of a scientific cast of mind may incline against accepting any such beliefs.
—Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams
The author of the first gothic novel in English traced the origin of his story to the recovery and writing down of a haunting dream that disturbed his...
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SOURCE: Burwick, Frederick. "Romantic Supernaturalism: The Case Study as Gothic Tale." Wordsworth Circle 34, no. 2 (spring 2003): 73-81.
In the following essay, Burwick traces the use of Gothic literature as a means of discussing abnormal psychology during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The Romantic period witnessed advances in rational and empirical modes of intellectual inquiry and, paradoxically, an increased interest in the supernatural. Ghosts were perceived as mental apparitions, illusions, and hallucinations and as supernatural phenomena bonded to a particular place, as by a curse of vengeance or retribution, because their bodies had met death under peculiar circumstances. What was wanted, then, was a supernaturalism informed by a probing of its very possibility.
Ann Radcliffe owed her success in The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and The Italian (1797) to her powerful conjuration of an exterior environment—a lonely castle, a wild and rugged landscape—charged with menacing gloom, and to her attentive tracking of the mental and emotional responses of her characters, their fears and forebodings. Rather than introducing an actual ghost or demon, Radcliffe revealed how the deep-seated dread of the supernatural was aroused and stirred into frantic alarm. Her strategy, of course, was not the only one; evil spirits and...
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SOURCE: Senf, Carol A. “The Vampire as Gothic Villain.” In The Vampire in Nineteenth-Century English Literature, pp. 31-74. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1988.
In the following excerpt, Senf centers on the vampire in legend, folklore, and literature, prior to the publication of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1897.
Dracula. As Chapter One [in The Vampire in Nineteenth-Century Literature] suggests, the name has practically become a synonym for vampire in the twentieth century. However, Bram Stoker’s original character is a transitional figure that has links to both the hideous creature from folklore and the more appealing modern version in Love At First Bite, John Badham’s Dracula, and the novels of Fred Saberhagen and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Similarly the novel in which he is the title character is a transitional work that looks back to its predecessors in Gothic literature and forward to twentieth-century popular culture.
Stoker is careful to reveal the truth about Dracula slowly. To create this suspense, he narrates the first sections of the novel through Jonathan Harker, a young English lawyer who has gone to Transylvania to handle some real estate transactions for Count Dracula, who has purchased property in London. It takes Harker, who— like most of the other characters in the...
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SOURCE: Auerbach, Nina. “Our Vampire, Our Leader: Twentieth-Century Undeaths.” In Our Vampires, Ourselves, pp. 101-62. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1995.
In the following excerpt, Auerbach chronicles the vampires of twentieth-century literature and film.
Vampires and Vampires
“There are vampires and vampires, and not all of them suck blood.”
Fritz Leiber, “The Girl with the Hungry Eyes” (1949)
When he offered his repulsive self for our worship, Dracula gave us more than a smell, an accent, and bloodlust: he propagated “vampires and
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SOURCE: Michelis, Angelica. “‘Dirty Mama’: Horror, Vampires, and the Maternal in Late Nineteenth-Century Gothic Fiction.” Critical Survey 15, no. 3 (September 2003): 5-22.
In the following essay, Michelis examines Sheridan Le Fanu’s symbolic treatment of mother and vampire in his short story “Carmilla,” and its connection to anxiety and the theories of Sigmund Freud and Melanie Klein.
Similar to vampires preying on their unsuspecting victims only to sink their teeth into them so they will have to enter that haunted sphere where the past can never be put to rest, psychoanalytic criticism has been marauding gothic literature which by now has become one of its prime fields of critical activity. As Leslie Hill has pointed out so aptly:
Regarding the relations between analysis and literature, the result is not unlike the circular unfolding of a familial melodrama, in which scenes from the past constantly return to haunt the present; and it is perhaps no surprise therefore that, as though to re-enact the drama of origins yet again, the analytic tradition, in its dealings with the literary, has tended to privilege a certain type of text or genre, notably that of the Gothic tale or Romantic conte with its familiar repertoire of sexual enigma, violence, and obsession.
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