Pathologising the Gothic
The Elephant Man, the Hysteric, the Indian and the Doctor
in Victorian demons
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D.G. Halstead in his memoirs, Doctor in The Nineties writes that 'The Elephant Man was the product of one of those ghastly genetic mutations which, once in a million times, results in some science-fictional monster instead of a normal human being'. Sir Frederick Treves's account of Merrick and an imaginary female hysteric emphasises the deficiencies in scientific practice. In his account of Merrick it is the case that models of degeneracy could not be mobilised with any meaningful efficacy. Treves returns to a Gothic idiom in a chapter entitled 'A Restless Night' which employs a range of Gothic images. This includes a projected attack by rats, a murderous assault by a racial Other, and themes of paranoia and entrapment. Merrick is a Gothic monster of masculinity, one who is cured through the imposition of an image of the dandy which feminises and civilises any sexual impulses he may have had.

Victorian demons

Medicine, masculinity and the Gothic at the fin de siecle

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