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.
Many vampires in popular fiction have developed a conscience that mitigates their monstrosity and makes them objects of human love and admiration. With the advent of the reformed vampire, Western culture has, perhaps, lost an icon of true horror. As the vampire has become increasingly humanized and sympathetic, the zombie has stepped up to take its place. Zombies remind us that we will soon be decomposing flesh; the zombie horde embodies fear of loss of self and individuality; zombies expose the dark side of mass consumer culture; and zombies highlight the fragility of human identity in an advanced, globalised society.
With reference to films such as The Terror Experiment (2010) and Osombie (2012), this paper explores the figure of the zombie terrorist, a collectively othered group that is visually identifiable as not us and can be slaughtered with impunity. In cinematic treatments, the zombie terrorist operates within a collectivity of zombies, erasing the possibility of individuality when the transformation from human to zombie takes place. The zombie terrorist signifies otherness in relation to selfhood, and is characterised by a mind/body split. Emerging from the grave in the archetypal zombie primal scene, this reanimated corpse is undead in its animate corporeality coupled with a loss of all mental faculties. The erasure of individual identity and memory along with broader human characteristics such as empathy or willpower coincides with the zombie terrorist s physical movement and action.
Interviewing can be a vampiric act especially when it involves leeching from its subject
the fluidic exchange which exists between life and art. The vampire novelist Anne Rice had
agreed to let me interview her at Waterstones Bookshop in Bristol, England, on 26 January
1993 about the fourth book in her Vampire Chronicles, The Tale of the Body
Thief (1992). In the interview she describes the novel as dealing with the
differences between art and life and mortality and immortality. Specifically, the story
examines the paradox of choosing to be Undead for the sake of life, and the way in which
art opens up a locus for a redemption that is outside of life. In my view, the text is as
much about the process of interviewing as about authorship. A more obvious example is
Rice‘s well-known novel Interview with the Vampire (1976) in which the
hapless interviewer eventually enters into the very narrative he is recording by becoming
another Ricean revenant.
Hearing Voices in L. M. Montgomery‘s Emily Climbs and F. W. H. Myers
The novels of L. M. Montgomery‘s Emily trilogy belong to the genre of domestic fiction, but they are punctuated by uncanny events, by excursions into a Gothic mode where the girl‘s smooth transition from rebellious child to compliant adult is disrupted. This paper is an investigation of Montgomerys use of Gothic tropes in the second novel of the trilogy, Emily Climbs (1925); in particular, this essay analyses the chapter entitled ‘In the Watches of the Night’, a chapter that is exemplary of Montgomery‘s use of the Gothic mode to disrupt the disciplinary system that enjoins the adolescent girl to situate her desires in the home. The chapter is permeated by Montgomery‘s reading in abnormal psychology, particularly by F. W. H. Myerss Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death (1903), a work that lends a scientific veneer to Montgomerys Gothicism with its account of what ‘hearing voices’ means. In an extravagantly gothic metaphor, Slavoj Zizek claims that the ‘life of a voice’ is ‘the uncanny life of an undead monster, not the “healthy” living self-presence of meaning’ (103). Montgomery‘s text arguably excavates a moment which reveals both the speaking subject and the ideology which disciplines it to be marked by the uncanny, by that which undermines ‘the “healthy” living self-presence of meaning’.