Smith explores how Stoker‘s novel raises some complex questions about love through its use of a male love-struck narrator, who appears to be caught in a Female Gothic plot which casts him as its hero. In the novel ‘love’ becomes increasingly sinister as it turns into a destabilising and dangerously irrational emotion that ultimately aligns love with feelings of justified horror. Jewel (1903, revised 1912) thus develops a male reading of a Female Gothic plot in which the idea of female empowerment becomes defined as horrific. However, this idea of a pathologised love, Smith argues, is not unique to Stoker and can be linked to Freud‘s account of love, which reveals how issues relating to male authority appear within psychoanalytical debates about emotion at the time.
This essay investigates how H G Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau employs the
gothic trope of the uncanny. Despite Wells’s use of ‘uncanny’ twice to describe
humanized animals, prior critics haven’t explored what the uncanny adds to our
understanding of the novel, perhaps because Freud’s famous essay ‘The ‘Uncanny’
was written in 1913, following The Island of Doctor Moreau by more than two
decades. We argue, however, that both men were working from notions of the
uncanny circulating in fin de siècle Europe and describing a larger colonial
dynamic, so that even though Wells’s work preceded Freud’s, we can use Freud’s
explanation of the uncanny to better understand what Wells was doing and why the
animals in The Island of Doctor Moreau are so unsettling to readers in our time
and in his. That is, the uncanny helps to explain how the novel works as a
gothic. Moreover, by examining how Freud’s theories help us to understand Wells,
we also see elements of Freud’s essay that we wouldn’t otherwise. We will argue
that because Freud and Wells were describing the world around them, overlap is
logical, even predictable, and certainly useful to understanding both
Trauma realities defy easy access to comprehension and thus require alternative discourses to understand them. This article looks at Pat Barkers employment of the Gothic tropes in the examination and explication of war trauma in her Regeneration trilogy. More pertinently, it scrutinizes the complex relation between Gothicized landscapes and trauma by analyzing three specific sites – Craiglockhart War Hospital, trenches and England as ‘Blighty’ – in the Regeneration trilogy. This article shows traumas destabilizing impact by examining how landscapes become imprinted with trauma. The physical disempowerment of landscapes is further complemented by a psychological disempowerment by examining traumatized patient-soldiers mindscapes and dreamscapes. It further examines how Barker employs tropes of haunting, dreams and nightmares, staple Gothic emotions of fear, terror and horror, Freuds Unheimlich to dispossess the owners control and locates trauma realities lurking therein. Thus Barkers Regeneration narrative bears witness to the phantom realities of war trauma by privileging the uncanny personal histories of traumatized soldiers.
In Shirley Jackson‘s novel The Haunting of Hill House, the tropes of haunting, telepathy, and clairvoyance serve to remind us that there is more to alterity than the shattering of the autos. In Jackson‘s novel, these tropes lead us to reconsider what we mean by subjectivity for, beyond the question of consciousness, they also destabilize what Sonu Shamdasani refers to as the “singular notion of the ‘unconscious’ that has dominated twentieth century thought,” especially via Freudian psychoanalysis. By drawing upon Carl Jung‘s theory of synchronicity in relation to quantum theory, this paper argues that Jackson‘s novel challenges certain classical models of human consciousness and subjectivity as well as psychoanalytic models of interpretation.
The late twentieth century is fascinated by the phenomenon of the gothic child, the child who manifests evil, violence, and sexual aggression. On the face of it, this evil is “caused” by either medical or social factors: medicinal drugs, radiation, or the corrupting influences,of political others. However, this essay argues that the gothic child actually arises from conflicting forces of child-philosophies, the intersection of Romantic childhood innocence with Freudian depth models. These models tacitly point to a child that “is” rather than “is,made”, a child that belies contemporary parental attempts to make it be otherwise. Moreover, the idea that the child is somehow immune to parental influence – that it is self-possessed rather than possessed by another – extends to the current notion of,the “inner child”, that “self” who is the seat of identity and coherence. Because of this, the gothic as often fantasizes the killing of the “child within” as it revels in killing the child without.
Sibling Rivalry in Elizabeth Gaskell‘s The Old Nurse‘s Story
Elizabeth Gaskell s The Old Nurse s Story (1852) occupies a shadowy middle ground between Gothic tale and case history. Concerning sibling rivalry and parental abuse recollected from the vantage of old age, it is both a ghost story and a narrative of maternal absence, paternal domination, transference, and the return of the repressed. Using both psychoanalysis and Gothic genre criticism, this essay traces, in miniature, the Victorian movement from spirits to sexual psychology.
Wisker argues that Plath‘s domestic Gothic exposes the duplicities of womens roles and the surprising paradoxes of fear and love, Otherness and self in representations of mothering and marriage. Using Freud‘s notion of the ‘uncanny’ Wisker suggests that Plath‘s poems defamiliarise the familiar roles and expectations of womens lives. Above all Plath exposes the dangers of complacency and the losses that come with the acceptance of a limited (patriarchal) worldview.
In his analysis of the evolution of sexuality in society in Making Sexual History, Jeffrey Weeks comments that, following a series of major challenges throughout the twentieth century (ranging from Freud‘s work to the challenges of feminism and queer politics), ‘sexuality becomes a source of meaning, of social and political placing, and of individual sense of self ’. This special issue of Gothic Studies intends to foster further research on the topic of queer sexuality. This is research which has already been underway for some time but it has not always been interdisciplinary in nature, as is the case for these five articles, in their discussion of theatre, cinema, and literature or literary conventions borrowed from Gothic novels.
In a footnote to his 1919 essay, ‘The Uncanny’ (‘Das Unheimliche’), Freud perfunctorily reports a strange encounter with himself. While he was traveling by train, a mirrored door in his compartment swung open, whereupon Freud was confronted with a distasteful-looking stranger intruding into his private space, a stranger whom he momentarily recognized as a reflection of himself.2 If we use Freud‘s own analysis in ‘The Uncanny’, derived from Otto Rank‘s work on the double, the power of this disconcerting episode could be attributed to the adult fear of the double, transmogrified from the animistic or childhood projection of a friendly double, another self who served as a protection against danger or death, into a fearful emblem of ones own mortality in the more repressed adult mind.3 That is, in our early state of primary narcissism we familiarize the strange world around us by projecting outward versions of ourselves; however, as adults who have discovered that we are not the source of all being, the unexpected appearance of an alternate self is initially frightening and unrecognizable. Freuds initial impression of himself as an alien intruder is uncanny because the scene is suffused with a supernatural aura and recalls him to a primary narcissistic fear. A double is a distorted version of a being already in existence, thus engendering the fear that the double is the real, original self who has come to take our place. Or, as Françoise Meltzer has noted, ‘the double entails the seeing of self as other, and thus forces the admission of mortality’ (229). Unexpected sightings of doubles in adulthood also confirm the validity of the sensation evoked by the super-ego which oversees and watches the self as it engages in worldly transactions. Seeing double may support the paranoid suspicion that an individual is actually two people, one divided against the other. As Rank demonstrates in his study, the double, as an emblem,of the soul, carries both a positive and negative valence. On the one hand our existence is confirmed by seeking reflections, versions of ourselves in mirrors, photographs, offspring, etc., yet if we are taken unawares by a double, we quail from it as a supernatural visitant. Thus the unsolicited sighting of a double, an embodiment of unsurmounted supernaturalism, marks the eruption of the uncanny into everyday life.