How does Stevenson deviate from realism in "The Beach of Falesá"? What are the gothic aspects he uses for this shift?

Stevenson deviates from realism, at least on the surface, by basing the plot of "The Beach of Falesá" on taboos and superstitious beliefs attributed to people who are native to the Pacific Islands. The irony is that happenings in the story that appear at first to have a supernatural basis are actually the result of tricks, of "smoke and mirrors" created by a man who is essentially a con artist and is deceiving the "natives" for his own purposes.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"The Beach of Falesá" is one of R. L. Stevenson's more naturalistic works, set in the present day and without the swashbuckling adventure of Kidnapped or the path-breaking science fiction of the The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It's a straightforward story about deception and vindication, but with an underlying message about the difficulties inherent in cross-cultural relations between Europeans and Pacific Islanders and, at least implicitly, about the injustice of imperialism.

The novella is gothic only in the sense that the island people are imposed upon by a man named Case who has tricked them into believing that he has supernatural powers or that he is, or controls, a "devil" whom they call Tiapolo. Case is a trader who is the rival of the narrator Wiltshire, and he has turned the "natives" against Wiltshire by convincing them that the girl Wiltshire has married has had a taboo placed...

(The entire section contains 458 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on