Representations of Lower-Class Voices in Ann Radcliffe’s Novels
This paper investigates lower-class voices within the context of anti-Gothic
criticism, using Ann Radcliffe’s novels and early Gothic critic Joseph Addison’s
essays to highlight the ways in which Radcliffe reassigns value to the Gothic
aesthetic. It further emphasizes Radcliffe’s reconfiguration of domestic roles
as she positions patriarchal figures as anti-Gothic critics, the heroine as
reader of gothic narratives, and lowerclass voices and tales as gothic texts.
The Mysteries of Udolpho and Romance of the
Forest subvert critical discourse and its motif of servants’ contagious
irrationality. In Radcliffe’s novels, ‘vulgar’ narratives as superstitious
discourse do not spread fear to susceptible heroines, embodiments of bourgeois
virtue, but demonstrate the ways in which fear is a construct of patriarchal
discourse. Servants and country people, in turn, construct a pedagogy for
reading gothic texts that permit heroines to deconstruct metaphors of ghostly
haunting embedded in their tales and resist patriarchal hegemony and
interpretative authority over gothic texts.