How is Boo Radley's House in To Kill a Mocingbird presented in a typical Gothic horror style?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although To Kill a Mockingbird is anything but Gothic fiction, author Harper Lee does introduce elements of the genre with the Radley House and its occupants. Gothic fiction usually incorporates elements of terror, romance, and melodrama in a setting that often includes a dark and scary old house, torture, mystery and superstition. The Radley House fulfills every one of these examples. The mysterious Boo Radley creates terror in the minds of the children early in the story. The children actually create "a melancholy little drama," with a "Gothic" performance by Dill as the villain of the Radley Game. There are superstitions surrounding the Radley Place: how children and Negroes refuse to pass by the house and how Boo has poisoned the pecans that fall into the schoolyard. There is the mental torture to which old Mr. Radley has subjected Boo, and there is the terror that the children feel when they get close to the house. The house even helps to initiate the romance between Scout and Dill, and later in the novel Scout fantasizes about her one day meeting Boo. The Gothic feel is never more evident than on the Halloween night when the children pass by the property at night, eliciting remembrances of their old superstitions and creating both fear and tension during their return. The night ends in a mysterious attack by an unknown assailant, a sudden heroic appearance, death, and a romantic walk between Scout and her protector, Boo.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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