Rebecca Styler1
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  • 1 University of Lincoln
The Problem of ‘Evil’ in Elizabeth Gaskell‘s Gothic Tales
in Gothic Studies
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Elizabeth Gaskell used Gothic as a symbolic language to explore the dark side of Unitarian thought. She explores, in rationalist terms, evils origins, effects, and remedy, using Gothic tropes as metaphors for humanly created misery. Gaskell locates the roots of ‘evil’ in an unenlightened social order – in ‘The Crooked Branch’ erroneous parenting, and in ‘The Poor Clare’ wider social structures, both distorted by the ideology of privilege. ‘The Poor Clare’ also engages with the tension between moral determinism and personal responsibility, and defends a Unitarian salvation. This tale also demonstrates Gaskell‘s views on aspects of Roman Catholicism.

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