This article examines the effects of early anthropological accounts of other races in producing tropes for monstrosity in the Gothic, such as we see in Frankenstein where the monster, although not of any known race since he is hybridly created from parts of dead bodies, shares features with popular accounts of the racially other, echoes Haitian slave rebellion violence in his responses to ill treatment, and achieves his literacy and independence in the manner of popular slave narratives. Gothic tropes were sometimes employed in anti-slavery narratives such as Uncle Tom‘s Cabin, and many of the descriptions of brutality and terror in realist slave narratives are properly to be considered Gothic (and may in fact borrow from gothic fictional techniques). Slavery itself could be argued to outdo the Gothic in its actuality, as well as serving as a source for gothic fantasy. This provokes a rethinking of the now conventional assumption that Frankenstein‘s acknowledgement of responsibility for his creature implies that it does his unconscious bidding; on the contrary, Frankenstein admits his responsibility as a slaveholder might for the actions of his slave, but without in any way endorsing them.
This collection of essays by scholars in Renaissance and Gothic studies traces the lines of connection between Gothic sensibilities and the discursive network of the English Renaissance. The essays explore three interrelated issues: 1. Early modern texts trouble hegemonic order by pitting the irrational against the rational, femininity against patriarchal authority, bestiality against the human, insurgency against authoritative rulership, and ghostly visitation against the world of the living. As such they anticipate the destabilization of categories to flourish in the Gothic period. 2. The Gothic modes anticipated by early modern texts serve to affect the audience (and readers) not only intellectually, but above all viscerally. 3. The Renaissance period can be seen as the site of emergence for the Gothic sensibility of the 18th century as it cultivated an ambivalence regarding the incursion of the supernatural into the ordinary.
dialectical relationship emerged
also in Lamming. This was so most noticeably in his insights on the
language shared, and synthesised, by both Caliban and Prospero. 26 For the language
which Prospero gave to Caliban created new possibilities for thought
Prospero has given Caliban Language; and with
it an unstated history of
Victorian ‘paterfamilias’ in James Macready's actor-manager interpretation. This was followed at the end of the nineteenth century by a shift in the spotlight to Caliban as an exemplar of Darwinian evolutionary theory. Next came John Gielgud's and Derek Jacobi's Freudian interpretations, which, as one reviewer wrote, energised the play by ‘switching our interest from the power of Prospero to his psychology’.
The Darwinian and Freudian interpretations gave way after the Second World War to post-colonial Tempests, which
intervening years were mainly
of the tragedies. 5 Although there
had been eight silent versions of The Tempest , there had been no
previous sound film unless one counts a number of television productions,
one of which in 1960 had rather surprisingly cast Richard Burton as
Caliban. 6 To some extent Jarman
was entering uncharted territory by filming this particular play but he was
very aware of the
Caliban, with a burden of
noise of thunder heard. All the infections that the
sun sucks up From bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall, and
make him By inchmeal a disease! His spirits hear
me, And yet I needs must curse.
over our relation to nature is related to
Prospero’s implied debate with Caliban: what is our relation
to newly discovered lands and their inhabitants – do they
become ours, or have they an integrity that must be respected? Is
the New World an extension of ourselves, or is it The Other? These
are not simply literary questions, they are major legal issues in
the age: what legal
both Miranda and Caliban are given sisters. Even the play’s
collaborative authorship is a kind of doubling. But more clearly uncanny
and allusive are the parallels drawn between the play’s source
material and ghosts haunting the text. The link is acknowledged most
explicitly in the epilogue:
The ghosts of poets walk
Supernatural generation and the limits of power in Shakespeare’s
in turn disrupt reproductive processes, signalling a symbiotic relationship between the body politic and the bodies of individual citizens.
Shakespeare's supernatural generations
Caliban most clearly illustrates the power of maternal impression and witchcraft to shape a child. Sycorax escaped execution by ‘pleading the belly’, drawing on the legal precedent that spared pregnant women from execution, but she is unable to protect her child from the natural magic of maternal impression.