Drunkenness and the Southern Gothic in Flannery O’Connor‘s The Violent Bear It Away
Lindsey Michael Banco
This essay explores a link, previously unremarked, in the Southern Gothic novelist Flannery O’Connors The Violent Bear It Away (1960) between the drunkenness of the novels protagonist and the idiot child he is compelled to baptize. Inspired by the possibility that much of the canon of American literature contains a symbolic economy of alcohol – what John Crowley calls ‘the White Logic’ – I argue that aligning the child with intoxication produces a poetics of addiction that helps explain the redemptive, revelatory climax of the novel in which O’Connors protagonist fulfills his religious destiny. The novel thus calls for a more complex understanding in American Gothic literature of the protean nature of intoxication.
Examining Alfred Hitchcock‘s Rebecca in terms of the Gothic convention of non-realist doubled and split characters, this essay argues that the slippage of desire between characters, male as well as female, complicates the containment of the dead Rebecca and whatever she represents. Although the splitting of the female protagonist into the unnamed heroine, the ghostly Rebecca and her surrogate Mrs Danvers has been extensively discussed, the use of this strategy as it concerns the male characters has been less often noticed. The replication of the male protagonist, Maxim, by two other male characters at once deepens him psychologically and contaminates him with ghostliness. These two conflicting manoeuvres strengthen his connection with both his wives, the dead as much as the living. But even while the treatment of Maxim empowers Rebecca and her successor, the movie‘s depiction of male bonding invites a questioning of the extent of female agency.
Gender, Money and Property in the Ghost Stories of Charlotte Riddell
This article explores Riddells representational strategies around gender: in particular her male narrators and her female characters made monstrous by money. It argues that Riddell, conscious of social prohibitions on financial knowledge in women, employs male protagonists to subversive effect, installing in her stories a feminine wisdom about the judicious use of wealth. Her narratives identify the Gothic potential of money to dehumanise, foregrounding the culpability of economic arrangements in many of the horrors of her society. While they contain pronounced elements of social critique, they ultimately however defend late-Victorian capitalism by proff ering exemplars of the ethical financial practice by which moneys action is to be kept benign.
The protagonists in James Baldwin’s 1957 short story
“Sonny’s Blues” are constantly smiling and laughing. The
story’s narrator notices these gestures and utilizes them to grasp at
clarity when clarity seems out of reach. This article examines the
narrator’s focus on this duo of facial expressions which reliably denote
positive emotion. The relationship we maintain between our smiles and our
laughter structures many of the narrator’s interactions with the
story’s hero. More though, this relationship between smiles, laughter,
and a kind of joy resembles the relationship Baldwin has
described between the blues and the world this genre of music depicts.
Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany‘s and Hollywood
This essay examines some of the literary and biographical models Truman Capote drew
on in the creation of Holly Golightly, the heroine of his 1958 novella Breakfast at
Tiffany‘s. Making use of Paramount studio records, the essay also explores the
complex process of adapting the story to the big screen. Numerous changes were made
so as to transform Capotes story into a romantic comedy, and thus to contain Holly‘s
liberated sexuality while also erasing any doubts about the male protagonists
heterosexuality. Casting Hepburn as the female lead helped to neutralize Holly‘s
sexual transgressiveness, and it sexualized the stars ethereal persona.
The Awakening (2011) and Development Practices in the British Film
This article reveals how screenwriter Stephen Volk‘s idea for a sequel to The
Innocents (1961, Jack Clayton) became, over the course of fifteen years, the British
horror film The Awakening (2011, Nick Murphy). It examines practitioner interviews to
reflect on creative labour in the British film industry, while also reorientating the
analysis of British horror film to the practices of pre-production, specifically
development. The research reveals that female protagonist Florence Cathcart was a
major problem for the project and demonstrates how the Florence character changed
throughout the development process. Repeatedly rewritten and ultimately restrained by
successive male personnel, her character reveals persistent, problematic perceptions
of gender in British horror filmmaking.
Reification of the Mothers Role in the Gothic Landscape of 28 Days Later
G. Christopher Williams
As its title suggests, Danny Boyle‘s 28 Days Later is a zombie movie about procreation. While this idea – a human menstrual cycle alluding to the multiplication of the undead – may seem at first to be paradoxical, such an idea is hardly a new one in zombie mythology. Boyle‘s film borrows from the traditional Gothic through a number of standard Gothic tropes in order to define the character of the films female protagonist as one necessary for her biological or reproductive role and to ward off possible domestic chaos and invasion through her role as mother. The film acknowledges an idea of woman as objectified and violated in both a postfeminist, but strangely also traditionally Gothic definition of woman as sex object and mother who is necessary for this biological, reproductive role as well as her identity, not as survivor, but as domestic caretaker.
Throughout the nineteenth century, the term ‘uncomfortable houses’ was used to describe properties where restless spirits made life unpleasant for any living persons who tried to claim these supernatural residences as their own. This article uses the idea of ‘uncomfortable houses’ to examine how this ghostly discomfort related to larger cultural issues of economics and class in Victorian Britain. Authors such as Charlotte Riddell and Margaret Oliphant used the haunted house story as a means of social critique which commented on the financial problems facing many lower- and middle-class Victorians. Their stories focus on the moral development of the protagonists and reconciliation through the figure of the ghost, ultimately giving readers the happy endings that many male-authored ghost stories lack. Riddell‘s ‘The Old House in Vauxhall Walk’ and ‘Walnut-Tree House’ and Oliphant‘s ‘The Open Door’ serve as important examples of this ‘suburban Gothic’ literature.
Gothic Melodrama and the Aesthetic of Silence in Thomas Holcroft‘s A Tale of Mystery
Focusing on melodrama and on Thomas Holcroft‘s exemplary A Tale of Mystery (1802) in particular, this essay proposes a reinterpretation of Gothic drama and theatre as constitutively characterized by interruptions of comprehension. The tribulations of its persecuted protagonist Francisco are read in the context of the court trial of a real-life Francisco, who lived in London in 1802 and was one of the ‘stars’ in contemporary newspaper reports from the Old Bailey. Combining different generic and tonal modes, Romantic-period Gothic melodrama capitalized on explicitness and hyperbole, as well as on materializations of ethics and sentiment through their overt exhibition on stage or ‘ostension’. At the same time, it emphasized absence, silence, dematerialization and dissolution. With its continuously deferred revelations,and ostensions of the unsaid, A Tale of Mystery is a significant investment in an aesthetic of the unsaid that is central to a definition of Gothic on stage.
American zombie Gothic films have changed markedly in their tone, style, and structure
since September 11, an evolution that expands the Gothic mode to include the mobility of
the narratives protagonists, a popularisation of the movies, and an increased engagement
with a multi-ethnic international community. To remain timely, relevant, and commercially
viable, such alterations must occur, and these shifts in particular can best be explained
by the changing cinematic marketplace, the influence of videogames, and the policies and
anxieties resulting from the (inter)national trauma of 9/11 and the War on Terror. This
essay examines the film version of World War Z as a key text for exploring the current
transition from a localised siege narrative to an international kind of road trip movie, a
shift largely tied to the popularity of zombie-themed videogames.