The femaleGothic continuum
The following chapter brings
together many of the central concerns of this book, particularly the
question of the Gothic drama’s awareness of its domestic viewing
context and domestic viewer, and the centrality of domestic space within
the image repertoire of Gothic television. It does this in relation to
the femaleGothic television adaptation
Hoeveler argues that Wollstonecraft in The Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) was working within a male dominated tradition of Enlightenment values, and that consequently her views are coloured by an implicit adherence to this tradition. Hoeveler suggests that this adherence is confirmed by Wollstonecraft‘s Mary, A Fiction (1788) which provides a sentimental celebration of the passive and weak Female Gothic heroine. Hoeveler argues that such a celebration of passivity has had a deleterious effect on feminism by encouraging women to see themselves as victims as a means, paradoxically, of gaining empowerment.
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.
Fitzgerald argues that Ellen Moers‘s account of the Female Gothic has its roots in a Lockean, European Enlightenment, philosophy of ownership. For Fitzgerald, this philosophy also influenced a 1970s feminist revision of the canon that involved identifying, and reclaiming, a ‘herstory’ of womens writing. Issues concerning the critical ownership of Ann Radcliffe, for example, illustrate how academic feminism has approached, and developed, the idea of what constitutes ‘womens writing’, whilst simultaneously indicating the extent to which Enlightenment ideas of ownership have shaped the Anglo-American feminist tradition.
Gothic Continuities, Feminism and Postfeminism in the Neo-Gothic Film
The article seeks to explore questions of fictional female victimhood by examining feminist and post-feminist critical engagements with the Gothic heroine figure. The paper traces instances of this figure in literary and filmic versions of the ‘female gothic’ narrative, focusing in particular on the female gothic film cycle of the 1940s, in films such as Rebecca (1940) and Suspicion (1941), and the cycles recurrence in more contemporary female-addressed suspense thrillers, such as Deceived (1991), Sleeping with the Enemy (1991), Shadow of Doubt (1998), and What Lies Beneath (2000). The paper reveals that the neo-gothic heroine condenses key issues pertinent to shifts in feminist and post-feminist critique, such as woman-as-victim, negotiations about the meanings of femininity, and the relationship between women and domestic space.
Delamotte examines the representation of race in Pauline Hopkins‘s Hagar‘s Daughter (1901/2). She argues that the novel provides a revision of the Female Gothic and also exploits narrative devices familiar from detective fiction. The solving of the ‘mystery’ that lies at the heart of the novel is one which explodes the ideological ‘mystery’, and the national crime of slavery, which separates Black and White, masculine and feminine, home and state, and African American and Euro-American families.
Contesting the ‘Female Gothic’ in Charlotte Dacre‘s Zofloya
Carol Margaret Davison
Taking Charlotte Dacre‘s unique and controversial novel, Zofloya; Or The Moor (1806), as its focal point, this essay takes stock of the strengths and limitations of the major theoretical engagements with the ‘Female Gothic’ under its diverse appellations, and consider them in terms of the history of Gothic theory more generally.
In recent criticism, Jane Austen‘s Northanger Abbey has been reconsidered as a comic
rather than mock-Gothic novel, shifting its mockery onto a variety of other targets:
domineering men, unwary readers, the violence underpinning English domesticity. I argue
that Austen continues her engagement with the Gothic, beyond Northanger Abbey, using Emma
as an exemplary case. Emma not only includes explicit mentions of Gothic novels such as
Ann Radcliffe‘s The Romance of the Forest, but implicitly reformulates the relationships
between Female Gothic figures: finding a frail, victimised heroine in Jane Fairfax and a
seductive femme fatale in Emma herself.
This essay examines a particular kind of female Gothic. Seizing the moment at which features of Gothic form had become sufficiently established to become part of a cultural inheritance, some twentieth-century women writers, we argue, created comic Gothic fictions that extended the boundaries of potential feminine identity. Stella Gibbon‘s Cold Comfort Farm pits an Austen sensibility against a rural Radcliffean scenario and proceeds to parody both as literary ancestors of a contemporary narrative of femininity. Fay Weldon‘s The Life and Loves of a She-Devil (1983) also appropriates aspects of Gothic to spin a darkly comic tale of literary and literally constructed ‘woman’. The essay also looks at the Canadian novel published a year earlier, Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood, which engages playfully with the relationship between Gothic writing and the feminine. Such texts constitute a challenge to the grand récit of gender difference, a challenge that has yet to be recognized fully by feminist critics many of whom have concentrated their energies on the feminist pursuit of life-writing. Female writers of comic Gothic, however, confront the stuff of patriarchy‘s nightmares and transform it into fictions of wry scepticism or celebratory anarchy. Through parody as ‘repetition with critical difference’, the boundaries of gender difference are destabilized in the service of creating different possibilities for female subjectivity. In their resistance both to tragic closure and their recasting of the fears of patriarchal society from a feminine perspective, such texts transform a literature of terror into a literature of liberation.