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Gothic Women

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Penmer
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“The role of women in the gothic genre is as victims, always subject to male authority.” Compare and contrast the extent to which this interpretation is relevant to your three chosen texts.

“The wolf consumes red riding hood – what else can you expect if you talk to strange men, comments Perrault briskly. Let’s not bother our heads with the mysteries of sadomasochistic attraction” Angela Carter; Foreword to Perrault’s Short Stories.

In much of today’s feminist writings, the Gothic era is frequently defined as a period in which the oppression of females was at its most intense. In response to fin de siècle anxieties of a social revolution in which gender stereotypes could be overhauled, gothic writers, it is claimed, sought to reassert cultural and gender norms – a reassertion which inevitably resulted in the oppression of women. In view of such contemporary analysis, it is thus all too tempting to offer a sweeping judgement of gothic literature as victimising, oppressive and misogynistic; Dracula’s “victims” are all “unambiguously women[1]”, Poe victimises through an “idealised and dehumanising image of women[2]”, while Carter is a “pseudo feminist” who merely “reinforces patriarchal views” with her “pornographic” writing[3]. Yet such views are largely artificial, and are primarily based on potted summaries of the above works, rather than a closer textual analysis. If one takes the definition of a victim as a being who is subject to the successful predatory actions of another, and who is resultantly devoid of power[4], then such primitive analysis in blindly labelling “all women as victims of the beastly male[5]” becomes flawed. Read in the context of Carter’s ironic foreword[6] to Perrault’s Short Stories, a deeper exploration reveals women as being willingly complicit in adopting the role of victim. Such complicity can be further explained through the intricacies of sadomasochistic attraction, the resultant empowerment of the libido and the consequential status of women as dauntingly powerful beings. Stoker and Poe’s work may well have tried to reassert these cultural norms, yet they have instead, perhaps unwillingly, portrayed an image of women as an empowered sex with the capabilities of rendering man the victim.

Before analysing such a view, however, it is first necessary to further explore the extent to which women have justifiably been perceived as victims in the gothic genre. The description of women in the above texts is perhaps the aspect that has provoked the greatest dissatisfaction amongst feminists; merely to scan Carter’s opening short story, “The Bloody Chamber”, is to discover endless semantic fields with lexis portraying women as victims; language such as “ruptured”, “wounded”, “winced”, “flimsy”, “impaled” and “infinitely dishevelled” mirrors Stoker’s description of Lucy’s scars as “deep”, “bloody” and “timeless”. The latter phrases in these two lists, “infinitely dishevelled” in Carter’s work and “timeless” in Stoker’s, not only reconcile us to the extent to which females have been “victimised” and “scarred”, but also highlight the perpetual nature of this victimisation and its unchanging state. The most fearful discovery in Carter’s novella is not “The Bloody Chamber” itself, with its “high walls” and insidious “instruments of torture”, but the corpses of previous victims spanning an arcane time period. A far more brutal, albeit subtler form of description, is that of the “idealised woman” which all three texts portray. This is a criticism most frequently attributed to Poe; Joan Dayan in her excellent “Amorous Bondage: Poe, Ladies, and Slaves” suggests that “These women are never human; they are not warm flesh and blood, loving or hating – they are simply beautiful lay figures around which to hang wreaths of potential sentiments”. An analysis of Poe’s poetry supports such a view; he describes women as “sweet”, “ideal,” “of feminine perfection” and “saintly”, and such “unrealistic” and “dehumanising language” is, in the words of Peter Coviello, “just as brutal as attributing animal like traits to women[7]”. He continues, “His ideal, his essence, as told through his poems and stories, is not an attainable Eden, but rather an unattainable, nightmarish vision that echoed his real-life tragedies with calculated skill.” Having lost his mother at an early age[8], Poe sought to obtain a motherly figure in his relationships[9] and his attribution of maternal, perfect traits to all his women reflects this. Yet victimising through idealisation is by no means confined to Poe: Carter’s “Lady of the House of Love” is described as “so beautiful she is unnatural, her beauty is an abnormality, a deformity…None of her features reconcile us to the imperfections of the human condition”, while Mina is “one of God’s women fashioned by his own hand to show us that there is a heaven where we can enter and that its light can be here on earth”. Indeed, Van Helsing’s acknowledgement of Lucy as a “beautiful corpse,” mirrored through Poe’s relentless portrayals of beauty in his euphemistic “The Sleeper” (“All Beauty sleeps”, and Poe expresses his “thrill” at the thought that in this “sepulchre”, “it was the dead that groaned within”), is perhaps the epitome of idealisation and male authority; men are creating the image to which women must aspire, and as women are not granted an outlet to respond (they are deceased), all power lies with men. It is to this male construction of universal mannerisms of being and thinking that we now turn.

In Carter’s “The Courtship of Mr Lyon”, we are told of how Beauty stared into The Beast’s “Green inscrutable eyes” in which “she sees only her face repeated twice, as small as if she were a bud”. One could comment on the inferiority the simile evokes in emphasising The Beast’s size, or on the objectification she is recognising, as highlighted famously by Mulvey’s “Male Gaze”, yet I feel there is a far greater level of depth to be explored. Beauty appears almost vein and narcissistic in her double self-recognition; she becomes fascinated by her own image in the face of another’s gaze. Yet Eve Sedgwick, author of the groundbreaking “Between Men”, suggests that, far from being an inherent fault of women, “narcissism is male invoked and ensures that woman identifies with that image of herself that man holds up.” Clearly, therefore, one can witness more sinister forces at work here. Carter’s heroine is not a vain, self-loving being by choice; she has been forced to adopt male constructions of perfection and in doing so, has “identified” with The Beast’s image as one to aspire to. The protagonist in “The Bloody Chamber” similarly admits to a “wounded vanity” through male demands for a narcissism which admires men, rather than those women classed as vain or narcissistic themselves. Such “authority” is clearly victimising as it removes free will and disempowers. This adherence to male constructions of “correct” manners of thinking is present in Carter’s title story too: the young heroine confesses, “I saw myself as he saw me”, and later, “I was not afraid of him, but of myself”. Whilst the former of these two admissions is once again an embodiment of the Male Gaze, the latter seems entirely staged; the reader has just endured pages of detail describing the Marquis’ “stroking” of his “prick”, which is compared to a “scimitar,” and the girl’s fearful “weeping” – the fear evidently a result of the most predatory actions of the Marquis. Similarly, following Dracula’s attack on Mina, Harker acknowledges that “he seems to have power to simply will and her thoughts obey him”. Women are once again victimised into the status of submissive tools subject to male domination and manipulation; a response, perhaps, to growing agitation regarding their increasingly prolific status as the embodiment of free speech. As a final point, consider Lucy’s admission to Mina; “I know you will think me a horrid flirt, but I felt exaltation that he was number two in one day”. Such a line proves fascinating to analyse structurally; the information that Lucy wishes to convey is simply her “exaltation” at having received two marriage proposals in a single day, yet this is preceded by a “necessary” line which set the tone of the line and clearly hints at a male construction; “I know you will think me a horrid flirt”. There is nothing in the text, to this point, to suggest that Mina is in any way a character prone to judgements – not least condescending ones. The line thus seems intended for the male audience, to ensure her condemnation, and is an example, much like Poe’s idealised image of deceased women refused an outlet to portray themselves, of male control of the female psyche; a most victimising action.

An even subtler manner of victimisation is evident in the refusal of males to grant an intellectual status to women within the works; a highly undesirable trait for the perfect woman. Far from trying to ensure the security of Mina, Van Helsing’s demand of her to “no more question” as “mental exercises would drain” her, instead demands a silencing of the female intellect – albeit poorly disguised under a veil of concern. Mina’s responsive nature to this demand (excluding her locating of Dracula, she remains largely subservient from this point on) highlights once more the extent of male authority. Likewise, she is later described as possessing a “man’s brain and a woman’s heart” – these similarly ‘flattering’ comments can be read instead as pure, unjustified and victimising sexism. In Carter’s more jovial “Puss in Boots”, one witnesses the arrogant and self-aggrandised Puss bask in the success achieved through the actions of his feminine feline companion. Carter’s excellent manipulation of form in concluding the story epitomises such an unjustified seizure of merit: “May all your cats be as wily, perspicacious and resourceful as: PUSS-IN-BOOTS”
The stanza break with the capitalised signature-like finish verges on the humorous as the reader recognises the complete ignorance towards female actions and a refusal to grant any form of intellectual status. Likewise, Poe conforms to such victimisation[10] as he contrasts his academic reading of “forgotten lore” with the “sorrowed, rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore”, and with his traditional depiction of a desired maternal figure; “Because I feel that, in the Heavens above / The angels, whispering to one another / Can find, among their burning terms of love / None so devotional as that of "Mother."” This reduction to a subservient and base figure, with no intellectual foundations and a sense of uselessness, is most victimising, as, in the words of Foucault, “Knowledge equals Power[11]”.

A later analysis shall reveal the extent to which a violently sexual nature is repressed in females, yet it is interesting to note how such a trait is viewed as acceptable, or even admirable among males. Speaking of Lucy, Seward admits “Had she to have been killed, I could have done it with savage delight[12]”, and such brutality mirrors the heroine’s admission in “The Bloody Chamber” that “When he saw my reluctance, his eyes veiled over, and yet his appetite did not diminish. His tongue ran over red lips, already wet…” Male desire is thus being depicted as existing most emphatically when it comes at the expense, or “reluctance”, of women. One is also forced to think of the “choker” which is present in both “The Bloody Chamber” and “Dracula”; as brutal an instrument of male objectification as there is, yet which is also used ironically in “Dracula” to conceal marks of male domination; “The narrow black velvet band which she seems always to wear around her throat buckled with an old diamond buckle which her lover had given her, was dragged up a little and showed a red mark on her throat.” Likewise, in his “The Sleeper”, Poe concludes several stanzas of seemingly romantic and mournful language with the line, “Soft may the worms about her creep”. This perhaps erotic gratification (one must consider the phallic symbolism of worms) as the death of women is once more an example of a beastly nature depicted within males, which always ensures the victimisation of women. As a final point, consider Christopher Craft’s commentary on “puncturing” in his excellent “Kiss Me With Those Red Lips”; “Dracula enters at the neck, Van Helsing at the limb. Each refuses to submit to the dangers of vaginal contact” – one is reminded once again of the dangers told of Vagina Dentata. He continues, “The shared displacement is telling; to make your own hole is the sign of ultimate arrogance, an assertion of penetrative prowess[13]”. Read in such a context, the transmission of bodily fluids carried out by Van Helsing and Dracula can be seen as more intrusive, objectifying and oppressive than rape itself. The beastly nature of man seems to be unambiguously linked with the victimisation of woman.

There is, therefore, a substantial amount of evidence to suggest that women are indeed portrayed as victims within the Gothic genre, yet as hinted in the introduction, a more precise reading of the texts should provide sufficient evidence to the contrary. Returning to the theme of “descriptions”, it is interesting to readdress Duncker’s criticism of Carter’s depictions as portraying “beautifully packaged and oppressive pornography” which “reinforce” 19th Century views. As I now hope to show, such a criticism is simply erroneous and fails to view any of the irony buried within Carter’s work. Certainly, Carter’s descriptions evoke those of more traditional Gothic writers, yet, as Kari Lokke suggests, there is “an excessive quality to Carter’s language which suggests an ironic parody at work that extends the drama of gender performances[14]”. Beauty does not just have “skin as white as snow”, but is so pure that she is made “all of snow”. Similarly, in “The Courtship of Mr Lyon”, we witness pages of elaborate description depicting the house, “with its sweet, retiring melancholy grace…snow laden skirts of antique cypress…the withered ghost of a tangle of thorns”. Yet, “It is too much”, Lokke argues, and “Carter undercuts it as strange occurrences are explained away due to the fact that “this was a place of privilege where all the laws of the world need not necessarily apply, for the very rich are often very eccentric””. This is parody at its finest, and a similar excess can be found in her parenthetical editorialising of the spaniel’s appearance; “(How amusing)”. Such surplus “prevents Carter’s mimetic and parodic performance of gender from being misinterpreted and seen as essentialist”. Clearly, in the case of Duncker, it hasn’t, yet this should not detract from the clear irony in her descriptions; Carter is parodying the traditional Gothic descriptions which sought to victimise – her own descriptions do anything but, as the male author is belittled in the face of her satirical tones. All three texts share one other method of female empowerment through description (however unwillingly they do so) in the form of sexualised descriptions, yet such discussion is to be saved for later amidst an exploration of masochism.

Female empowerment and the subordination of man are also evident through an analysis of the role of language and narration within the two texts. Through language, females frequently elevate themselves above the status of victim, and in turn, seize all authority. Alison Case argues in her “Tasting the Original Apple: Gender and the Struggle for Narrative Authority in "Dracula””, that “To place a woman, conventionally the passive object of male interpretation, in the role of narrator potentially poses as great a threat to traditional gender roles as all the ambiguities of vampire sexuality,” and she is supported by Barthes as he famously stated, “The master is the one who speaks, who disposes of the entirety of language”. Such a reading is highly accurate; Mina’s use of shorthand is a detail often overlooked in contemporary analysis of the text, yet through it, she possesses a unique power to evoke mystique and thus subordinate those around her. She admits she “could not resist the temptation of mystifying [Van Helsing] a bit. I suppose it is some of the taste of the original apple that remains still in our mouths…” She thus “makes it clear to Van Helsing that her mediation is required before her document can be put to intellectual use – elevating her position greatly”[15]. The anxiety evoked in her male counterparts through a resultant lack of comprehension is all too evident; Harker admits to feeling “uncomfortable about such a puzzle… dirty symbols mixed up with some other language which I did not know at all” and his response highlights his horror: “You must no more question”. One senses Stoker is conveying here a fear of more than merely the presence of foreigners which caused so much anxiety as the imperialist British Empire reached its peak[16]. Likewise, through Poe’s rhetorical questioning of women to which, of course, they cannot respond, “Oh, Lady dear, has thou no fear”, he also depicts an inherent fear of offering women an outlet; anxiety reigns when he cannot control the finest intricacies of his work. This is highlighted best by his mathematical breakdown of “The Raven” in “The Philosophy of Composition” (“a combination of octameter acatalectic, heptameter catalectic, and tetrameter catalectic”), and by his victim-like response when asked if his mother’s image could be seen in his poetry: “In speaking of my Mother, you have touched a string to which my heart fully responds. I myself never knew her – and never knew the affection of a father” – he cannot control the freedom with which others question and evoke unwanted emotion within him. Similarly, Carter offers us the mute “Wolf Alice” who, despite her inability to speak, is “pre-mirror stage” in a Lacanian reading of the text (only at the end does “her relation with the mirror become far more intimate since she knew she saw herself within it), and is thus still in the “symbolic stage”. Her noises are described as “rustles”, “howls”, “snarls” and “grunts”, all mysterious and indecipherable sounds which envelop her with a mystifying and unique power for communication identical to that of Lucy’s. Indeed, Carter admits her “howling was a language as authentic as any language of nature”. Through the adoption of this symbolic form of communication, women attain new levels of power and shake established norms. Far from being subjugated by “patriarchal” language, women transcend the need to compete in the male sphere and create their own form of communication; a move perceived as highly threatening by men who had, for so long, thought that language was their own.

In her “The Laugh of the Medusa”, Helen Cixous argues that a sexual nature in women, that which is so frequently suppressed by Gothic writers, has the ability to empower females through the fear inspired by the libido; “Woman’s libido will produce far more radical effects of political and social change than some might like to think”, she concludes. Based on this, it is interesting to return to a quotation I cited earlier to argue that females were victims: “The shared displacement is telling; to make your own hole is the sign of ultimate arrogance, an assertion of penetrative prowess…” Consider now the end of the quotation which was not mentioned before; “An assertion of penetrative prowess that nonetheless acknowledges, in the flight of its evasion, the threatening power imagined to inhabit women’s available openings”. The term “threatening power”, in the context of the question, clearly depicts females as being in a position of dominance, yet more interestingly, the use of the term “evasion” highlights the status of males as victims frightened to approach such a daunting topic. Contextually, “Vagina Dentata” [17] was a fear still prevalent, at least in a metaphorical sense, in Victorian society of the dangerous powers woman’s sexual organs possessed. Poe is perhaps the perfect embodiment of this anxiety; Laurine Pruette quotes him as stating, “In the strange anomaly of my existence, feelings with me had never been of the heart, and my passions always were of the mind[18]”, and then goes on to explain how this elucidates Poe’s “intellectual love” of so many woman[19] – a love which the Freudians would conclude as the “damning of the libido”. Such a conclusion is supported through his depiction of “horror expressions of anxiety” (“soft may the worms about her creep”) which “always have a sexual connotation”. Such repression indicates, above all, the power and resultant fear that the libido invokes .We see further examples of empowerment through the libido in “Dracula”; Lucy is undoubtedly at her most fearful as she wantonly demands, “Arthur my love, oh, I am so glad you have come Kiss me!... Come, Come!”, and it can be no coincidence that within a single page, Van Helsing concludes, “It is all over. She is dead”. Similarly, Carter’s description of “Wolf Alice” with her “panting tongue, red lips which are thick and fresh, long lean and muscular legs, and her elbows, hands and knees are thickly calloused because she always runs on all fours” is written off as “not like ours” by the others. The image is blatantly sexual, and one can read a refusal to recognise such traits instead as a repression of fear of female sexuality. Clearly, through his attempted repression of the female libido, it is man who is “subject” to the authority of others – one cannot label women as “victims”.

Yet as hinted throughout, undoubtedly the greatest argument to suggest that women are not in fact victims, and that, instead, men are, comes with an exploration of sadomasochism. In her “Oral Sex: Vampiric Transgression and the Writing of Angela Carter”, Sarah Sceats puts forward the case that “woman’s desire depends on dependence”. She quotes Hegel with his view that “the possessor is defined by his possessions” and “Bondage shows its essential nature to be the reverse of what it was meant to be”, and then discusses sadomasochistic relationships in light of such critical readings. The conclusion is simple: it is the masochist who has the real power. After pages of the most brutally “pornographic” descriptions of the Marquis, “stripping me like the leaves off an artichoke”, “approaching with a weary appetite”, and then the heroine’s observation of “the child with her sticklike limbs, naked but for her button boots, her gloves, shielding her face with her hand as though her face were the last repository of her modesty, and the old, monocle lecher who examined her”, Carter’s protagonist admits to “stirring” in response. Such a sentiment is ambiguous – for Carter is never explicit regarding sadomasochistic desire – yet one can certainly sense a puzzled enjoyment felt by the girl, just as her “talent for corruption” was so powerful that it “took her breath away” – another highly ambiguous term, yet this time with slightly more room for a sexual reading. The nature of the sadist is to be brutal and dominating; in enjoying this, his position is negated by the female, and men unquestionably become the victims. Similarly, in “Dracula”, Lucy exclaims, “My dear Mina, why are men so noble when we women are so little worthy of them?” – a question which, beneath the surface, reveals a fascination with being dominated and being in a submissive position. Nowhere is this more evident than during the moment of greatest sadomasochism in the novel, the “impaling” of Lucy, with her body “shaking and quivering and twisting in wild contortions…the mouth was smeared with a crimson foam which spurted up around it…deeper and deeper”. The scene is wrought with sexual imagery, and Arthur’s relentless action, together with his subsequent comparison to “Thor” can be seen as a repressive response to the masochistic pleasure which Lucy seems to gain from the murder with her “wild contortions”. Despite his “non sexual nature[20]”, Poe’s poetry can likewise be read as incorporating sadomasochistic elements which empower rather than oppress; “To …” is a fantasy about being swallowed up by the object of one’s affections, while his “To Helen” makes reference to her “statue” like nature and “Al Aaraaf” depicts his woman “kneeling on a bed” - all perhaps references to a submissive status which instead grants power to the “subject”, rather than “victimising” them. Through masochism, women can nullify the brutally sadist nature of certain men who attempt to oppress, and instead discover a power shift of such magnitude that they become the oppressors; all authority lies with them if they truly take pleasure in other’s attempts to cause pain.

To conclude, therefore, one must acknowledge the wealth of criticism which justifies all three authors as oppressive and victimising towards women; Stoker has been accused of “antiquated[21]” values, Poe has been labelled “The most conventional man ever to have lived in all matters touching women, sex, marriage and morals[22]” and Carter has “depicted a grossly unequal male fantasy[23]”. Yet an exploration of sadomasochism shows, particularly with regards to the latter of the above three criticisms, that women are not victimised but empowered through attempted male victimisation. Carter may well have “depicted a grossly unequal male fantasy”, yet this is not to say that her protagonists are victims – far from it. Just as Poe seems to take pleasure from self torture in asking inevitably futile questions to which he shall receive the same response in “The Raven”, Carter and Stoker’s females experience a certain erotic gratification in being dominated – Carter’s revelation of “The Tiger’s Bride” as bestial seems to suggest that real victimisation is to deny women the opportunity to take pleasure from a most natural act. The attempted masculine oppression of this libido reveals the true victims to be those full of anxiety and subject to the demands of that which they fear most; a sexually empowered woman. Such a figure is, as Hegel argued, the true master – even if archaic morals state she could never live “happily ever after”.

Bibliography

Ann Sheets, Robin: “Pornography, Fairy Tales, and Feminism: Angela Carter's "The Bloody Chamber””

Astle, Richard: “Dracula as Totemic Monster: Lacan, Freud, Oedipus and History”

Barzilai, Shuli: “The Infernal Desire Machines in Anne Thackeray Ritchie's Bluebeard's Keys and Angela Carter's "The Bloody Chamber"”

Belton, Robert: “Edgar Allan Poe and the Surrealists' Image of Women”

Bentley, Christopher: “Sexual Symbolism in Dracula”

Benton, Richard, “Friends and Enemies: Women in the Life of Edgar Allan Poe”

Brooke, Patricia: “Lions and Tigers and Wolves - Oh My! Revisionary Fairy Tales in the Work of Angela Carter”

Butler, Judith: “Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire”.

Case, Alison: “Tasting the Original Apple: Gender and the Struggle for Narrative Authority in Dracula”

Church, Joseph: "To Make Venus Vanish": Misogyny as Motive in Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue"

Cixous, Hélène: “The Laugh of the Medusa”

Coviello, Peter: “Poe in Love: Paedophilia, Morbidity, and the Logic of Slavery”

Craft, Christopher: “Kiss Me With Those Red Lips; Gender and Inversion in Dracula”

Dayan, Joan: “Amorous Bondage; Poe, Ladies, and Slaves”

De Beauvoir, Simone: “Woman and the Other”

Demetrakopoulo, Stephanie: “Feminism, Sex Role Exchanges, and Other Subliminal Fantasies in Bram Stoker's Dracula”

Duncker, Patricia: “Reimagining the Fairy Tales: Angela Carter’s Bloody Chambers”

Griffin, Gail: “Dracula and the Victorian Male Sexual Imagination”

Hatlan, Burton: “The Return of the Repressed/Oppressed in Bram Stoker's Dracula”

Hennard Dutheil de la Rochère, Martine: “New Wine in Old Bottles: Angela Carter's Translation of Charles Perrault's "La Barbe bleue"”

Hoeveler, Diane Long: “The Construction of the Female Gothic Posture “

Jancovich, Mark: “Bleeding the Bourgeoisie Dry: Dracula and Fears of Monopoly Capitalism”

Kaplan, Cora: “Language and Gender”

Langlinais, Chantel: “Framing the Victorian Heroine: Representations of the Ideal Woman in Art and Fiction”

Lau, Kimberly: “Erotic Infidelities: Angela Carter's Wolf Trilogy”

Lee, Linda: “Guilty Pleasures: Reading Romance Novels as Reworked Fairy Tales”

Linkin, Harriet: “Fairy Tale as sexual allegory: Intertextuality in Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber” Kaiser, Mary: “Isn't It Romantic?: Angela Carter's Bloody Revision of the Romantic Aesthetic in "The Erl-King"”

Lokke, Kari E: “"Bluebeard" and "The Bloody Chamber": The Grotesque of Self-Parody and Self-Assertion”

Makinen, Merja: “Angela Carter's "The Bloody Chamber" and the Decolonization of Feminine Sexuality”

McLaughlin, Becky: “Perverse pleasure and fetished text: The Deathly Erotics of Carter’s The Bloody Chamber”

Morrison, Tony: “Rootedness: The Ancestor as Foundation”

Munford, Rebecca: “’The Desecration of the Temple’; or, ‘Sexuality as Terrorism’? Angela Carter’s (Post-) feminist Gothic Heroines”

Pruette, Lorine:” A Psycho-Analytical Study of Edgar Allan Poe”

Punter, David: “Dracula and Taboo”

Radu, Delia: “Foreshadowing and Blindness in Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber”

Roth, Phyllis: “Suddenly Sexual Women in Dracula”

Sceats, Sarah: “Oral Sex: Vampiric Transgression and the Writing of Angela Carter”

Sedgwick, Eve: “Between Men”

Senf, Carol: “Dracula: The Unseen Face in the Mirror”

Senf, Carol: “Dracula: Stoker's Response to the New Woman”

Stevenson, John Allen: “A Vampire in the Mirror: The Sexuality of Dracula”

Walpole, Horace: “The Castle of Otranto”

-----------------------
[1] S.Demetrakopoulos Feminism, Sex Role Exchanges, and Other Subliminal Fantasies in Bram Stoker's "Dracula"
[2] Richard P. Benton, “Friends and Enemies: Women in the Life of Edgar Allan Poe”
[3]Duncker, Patricia,” RE-IMAGINING THE FAIRY TALES: ANGELA CARTER'S BLOODY CHAMBERS” , Literature and History, 10:1 (1984:Spring)
[4] Hence “subject to male authority”
[5] Duncker, P.4
[6] Heading quotation
[7] Peter Coviello: Poe in Love
[8] She died aged 24 – Poe was barely two years old and his Father had abandoned the family
[9] Church argues that his relationship with Mrs Whitman was based on a love for the “maternal” and that “whilst they were in love with the ideas of each other, they seemed to be ignoring the realities of one another”.
[10] Commenting on literary women, he states, “They are a heartless, unnatural, venomous, dishonourable set with no guiding principle but self esteem”
[11] M. Foucault; The Subject and Power
[12] Emphasis added
[13] C. Craft, “Kiss Me With Those Red Lips”
[14] K. Lokke; Bluebeard" and "The Bloody Chamber": The Grotesque of Self-Parody and Self-Assertion
[15] A. Case; Tasting the Apple; P.230
[16] Four Million square miles had been added to the British Empire in the century preceding the publication of Dracula.
[17] A traditional folk tale in which men were warned of small, razor sharp teeth which embedded the vagina; the repression of female sexuality was thus seen as of utmost importance
[18] L. Pruette; A Psychoanalysis of Poe
[19] One must note how he recycled love poems to different women, such that it is now almost impossible to tell who the truly intended recipients of many were.
[20] Belton, Robert: “Edgar Allan Poe and the Surrealists' Image of Women”
[21] R. Benton; Women in the life of Edgar Allan Poe
[22] J. Church: "To Make Venus Vanish": Misogyny as Motive in Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue"
[23] Duncker; P.4…...

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...Architecture in Society The Difference of Gothic Church and Jewish Synagogue In today’s society there are many forms of art; pictures, sculpture music and architecture to name a few. Architecture is defined in Merriam-Webster dictionary as: “the art or science of building; the art or practice of designing and building structures and especially habitable ones.” Just look around, you can see art in many buildings of today. The most prominent architecture art forms are religion structures primarily churches. The history of church architecture divides itself into periods, and into countries or regions and by religious affiliation. There are many styles and structural difference in each church. Gothic architecture made of stone that has statues on the outside and several low towers and a low spire with a cross on top of it. The floor plan is often cross-shaped. The most prominent time period is Renaissance period namely the Gothic Style of Churches. These large, often ornate and architecturally prestigious buildings were dominant features of the towns and countryside in which they stood, they had elaborate ceilings, stain glass windows and structure that made them not only marvelous construction achievement’s but true art forms. The most famous and truly a piece of art that represents this time period is Chartres Cathedral one of the finest examples of the French High Gothic style. In contrast of Gothic Churches of yesteryear......

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Gothic Elements

...The southern gothic style is one that employs the use of macabre, ironic events to examine the values of the American south. Two of the most iconic writers to use this style are Flannery O’ Conner and William Faulkner. O’Conner’s short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” which depicts a southern family’s demise at the hands of a ruthless murderer, and Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” in which a well-to-do woman is discovered to have the rotting corpse of her lover in her bedroom, are two perfect examples of southern gothic stories. While both O’Conner and Faulkner use the southern gothic style, however, they use it to illuminate different aspects of southern culture. The most important and defining aspect of southern gothic writing is the use of macabre, or grotesque, events. Such events are easily identified in both stories. “A Rose for Emily, told through the eyes of an entire southern town, depicts a woman named Emily, who is the last remaining member of a once great family. The town watches as Emily grows more and more estranged as years pass. Eventually, when she dies alone, the town enters the house and is shocked to find the badly decomposed body of her lover, who had been assumed to have left Emily years before, in the bed of an upstairs room. Faulkner ends the story on a decidedly gruesome note, writing “Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and......

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American Gothic

...Grant Wood, American Gothic English Assignment American Gothic American Gothic is a classic American painting by Wood Grant. The traditional painting was created in the year 1930. Wood paints an image of two farmers in the Midwest. Due to time period that the painting was created in (1930s), American Gothic refers to the Great Depression. Wood paints the two farmers expressions with much importance. The man looks right at the viewer with strong determined eyes. He is holding his pitchfork with strength. The woman looks of to the left of the painting. Her expression portrays fear and sadness. Behind the two subjects is a house lit up by the afternoon sun. American Gothic is a very simple painting; two people and a house. The viewers eyes looks first at the man’s intense stare and then continues to wander around the painting. Wood's choice of clothing, hairstyle, color all play important rolls in determining the time setting and to give the painting an overall mood. First of all, the color scheme is very muted one. This gives the painting a depressing mood and a one- dimensional feeling. The many vertical and horizontal lines generate eye movement from pitchfork to the coat of the man on up to the faces of both figures to the window between them; then, as the roof angles, the viewer's eye is led toward the left and right with the roofs of the house and barn. The repetition of shape with the pitchfork and the window helps the viewer to see the...

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The Gothic Age

...The Gothic Age Possible Introduction Standing before a piece of Gothic art, whether it is a painting, sculpture or a cathedral, you are drawn to a visual exploration like none you have ever seen.  Where does the art start and end? The style of Gothic art draws the eye's attention at every turn. A choir of medieval spiritual beliefs is told in art, singing harmoniously in a language from long ago, which eludes us at the frontier of our memory reminding us of stories told throughout the years. History of Gothic Art Gothic is the name given to the style of architecture, painting, and sculpture which flourished in Western Europe, mainly France and England, between the 12th and 15th centuries. The label of 'Gothic' was coined in Italy, during the Renaissance, as a derogatory reference to the art and architecture of these earlier centuries. The defamation was a comparison to the earlier Goth barbarians. Goths were an ancient Teutonic people, who were an important power in the Roman world from the 3rd to the 6th century AD. The entire Goth population divided into the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths, aligned themselves with the Roman Empire, and set out to conquer and rule. It is during this timeframe that the artistic influence of the Goths took hold and began to spread, mixing Gothic and Roman artistic styles. With the passing centuries, Gothic became more clearly associated with the closing era of the medieval age. In time, the separating point......

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Gothic Architecture

...Gothic Architecture can be viewed as the skyscrapers of the medieval era with the sheer height of the buildings and the slender windows and columns adding to the verticality of the buildings. In his book 'Gothic' Prof. Dr Bruno Klein enlightens the readers that Gothic Architecture was not entirely initiated with the construction of St. Denis by Abbot Sugar but rather played as major catalyst for the movement which had slowly started to appear in the late Romanesque movement. By instigating a search through Klein's work a better understanding of the Gothic movement can be achieved. This paper will discuss in detail factors that contributed towards the Gothic movement and how the movement was not initiated by the construction of St. Denise by Abbot Sugar but rather a few years before hand. By exploring factors such as political, social and cultural beliefs and values that influence the dramatic change that helped emerge the gothic movement and differ it from its predecessor. Aim of this paper is showcase and illuminate the differences between Gothic and Romanesque Architecture but also how past Architectural styles transcends over time rather than stop with the Architectural movement ends and moves to another. The fact that the founding stone of Gothic Architecture was laid on the july 14 1140 can be disputed (Toman and Bednorz 2007, pg 28). According to Prof. Dr. Bruno Klein the rebuilding of the choir of the Benedictine church of St. Denis was begun at the influence of Abbot...

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Women in the Renaissance

...the introduction of Gothic architecture and troubadour poetry. Although the Middle Ages began as a time of violence, the emergence of Gothic architecture and troubadour poetry are examples of devotion and expression. During the tenth and eleventh centuries cathedrals were constructed (367). The style of the cathedrals resembled Roman architecture, which was the preceding time period. (367). Features of Roman architecture included “massive walls, rounded stones arches, and small windows” (367). By the twelfth century, this new style gained the name “Gothic.” The Gothic style introduced new engineering improvements and emphasized more emotional expression. The structures of Gothic architecture consisted of pointed arches, high ceilings, and flying buttresses (367). A flying buttress carried the weight of the roof. “Midieval Archtechture” states: “The walls of Gothic buildings could be thinner than previous styles of architecture because the weight of the roof was supported by the arches rather than by the walls. The pointed Gothic arch provided greater flexibility could also span greater distances, allowing vaults to be taller and wider. Thinner walls had wider window openings which encouraged the use of stained glass and the distinctive Gothic Rose windows.” The style was adopted by most religious buildings proving a devotion to faith. In France there stood eighty cathedrals, five hundred abbey churches and thousands of churches constructed in Gothic style. Town......

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Grant Wood's American Gothic

...Grant Wood’s American Gothic painting is a portrayal of traditional American values throughout the 1930’s with its’ main emphasis on the need for a hard working labor force. The painting depicts a stern-faced farmer and his daughter in front of their house, with a Gothic-style window in the background. It is representative of traditional American rural values, where women were considered subservient to men and men made a huge commitment to their labor. The thesis of the painting can be interpreted in many different ways, however, in my opinion, Grant’s main meaning depicted in the painting is of what characterized American rural life during the 1930’s; a hardworking middle class where women, while respected, were still submissive to men. The “New Enterprise Family” is made up of a couple and their children, commonly known as the nuclear family. The family seems to be selfish in choices they make economically as they throw their grandmother out of the house when she is no longer a sensible financial decision. The picture, in my opinion, depicts the typical American family today, who is more focused on making a profit then taking care of their family members. Free enterprise is an economic system where private businesses operate free of state controls and as we can see in the “Free Enterprise Family” the family when operating without moral conduct will throw their grandmother out to help themselves advance. The “Free Enterprise Family” seems to operate with a lack of moral......

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Jane Eyre in Terms of the Gothic

... Gothic Literature Gothic fiction  is a genre of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. As a genre, it is generally believed to have been invented by the English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto. The effect of Gothic fiction feeds on a pleasing sort of terror, an extension of Romantic literary pleasures that were relatively new at the time of Walpole's novel. Melodrama and parody (including self-parody) were other long-standing features of the Gothic initiated by Walpole. Gothic literature is intimately associated with the Gothic Revival architecture of the same era. In a way similar to the gothic revivalists' rejection of the clarity and rationalism of the neoclassical style of the Enlightened Establishment, the literary Gothic embodies an appreciation of the joys of extreme emotion, the thrills of fearfulness and awe inherent in the sublime, and a quest for atmosphere. The ruins of gothic buildings gave rise to multiple linked emotions by representing the inevitable decay and collapse of human creations—thus the urge to add fake ruins as eye catchers in English landscape parks. English Gothic writers often associated medieval buildings with what they saw as a dark and terrifying period, characterized by harsh laws enforced by torture, and with mysterious, fantastic, and superstitious rituals. In literature such Anti-Catholicism had a European dimension featuring Roman Catholic excesses such as the Inquisition (in......

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Gothic Elements in “a Rose for Emily”

...William Faulkner’s captivating story “A Rose for Emily” is a shining example of gothic literature. Faulkner expresses sadness for the love that is not returned, and a drive that Miss Emily Grierson uses to get what she wishes for. He adapts a gloomy and mysterious tone in order to compare Miss Emily’s rejection to young adults today. Faulkner opens his story by expressing the amount of respect that is shown at Miss Emily’s funeral. It is said that the entire town attended this event, but also that some only showed up to see what the inside of her house looked liked because no one had been inside in over ten years. He explains this to show the mysterious appeal of Miss Emily. By explaining the mystery in Miss Emily, he conveys a dark tone that baffles the audience. Faulkner then shifts the story toward explaining what Miss Emily’s house had once looked like. It was a big grim house that was once white. It was the only one left on the street and many believes that it was an abomination to the community. It is evident that Miss Emily and her house are connected in a way. Miss Emily’s family was once one of the most prominent in the town because of the relationship the father had with Colonel Sartoris, but as she grew older the opinions of her social status changed along with her. Her father not only had great power within the community, he also had power over her as well. This authority is shown through the portrait that Faulkner painted in the story:  Miss Emily a......

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The Gothic Novel

...Comp 1 McGough 3/12/2015 The Gothic Novel In the late eighteenth, early nineteenth century, gothic fiction arose as a new genre in the literary field. Functioning as cult literature gothic literature compels readers to think, and really consider the immense emotion writers could stimulate. Often overly dramatic with its supernatural, horrific, and suspenseful material, this melancholy form of literature prompted the use of darkness and mystery in order to spawn feelings of obscurity, secrecy, and trepidation. Gothic literature operates as a pulp genre that was often seen as an intense type of romance with its stylized, non-realistic, idealized or emblematic tales presented in the form of an adventure through the use of a discovery quest. Yet its evocative powers of horror and terror explore the gratification and titillations of shockingly perverse. Before being applied to the context of a literary form the term gothic originally referred to an ancient Germanic tribe that derived from what is now known as southern Sweden, before migrating to the shores of the Baltic Sea known as the Goths. This tribe eventually split into two factions that would be known as the Visigoths or West Goths and the Ostrogoths or East Goths. Centuries would pass before the term gothic would once again emerge this time with a different meaning. Sometime during the renaissance Greco-Roman culture was rediscovered by Europeans. In this rediscovery the term “gothic” now referred to certain types......

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Gothic Texts

...show men’s primal side while human have the human’s side. Paragraph two- Talk about The Erl-King in more detail on how the story show human acting more like beasts, incorporating the agreement to beasts acting like humans. Incorporate ideas of the Erl-King being more of a beast than human by the description of his setting. Incorporate quotes “has grown a pelt of yellow lichen”. The quote represents human being induced with nature that they’re acting like animals instead of human. Paragraph three- Talk about The Lady of the House in more detail as on how the story shows human being more animalistic. The girl represents humanity being on the other side of man’s two aspects, in which Angela focused on the animalistic side of man and how women can be interpret to having the same aggressive side as male does. Incorporate the quote “But now she is a woman, she must have men." ...

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“the Role of Women in the Gothic Genre Is as Victims, Always Subject to Male Authority.” by Comparing the Presentation of Women in Your Three Chosen Texts, Say How Far You Would Agree with This View.”

...“The role of women in the gothic genre is as victims, always subject to male authority.” By comparing the presentation of women in your three chosen texts, say how far you would agree with this view.” Women are central to the narrative of Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and within Christina Rossetti’s poetry. All three texts were written during significant times in history: Rossetti and Stoker’s works during the infamous reign of Queen Victoria, and Carter’s collection during the year Margaret Thatcher became the first female prime minister of Britain. As a genre, the gothic is often regarded as being dominated by men, with women featuring in the role of victim subject to patriarchy. Many early gothic texts feature women in the role of victim under the authority of predatory men, perhaps most notably in Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto and Matthew Lewis’ The Monk. However, Stoker, Rossetti and Carter all at times break with this convention by characterising some of their females as strong, independent and liberated. As writers, they experiment with the characteristic features of the gothic genre, particularly Carter and Rossetti who challenge the traditional conceptions by presenting many of their female characters in dominant, authoritative roles which break convention. There are occasions in all three texts when the passivity traditionally associated with femininity in the gothic genre can be perceived to be a direct result of......

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Frankenstein as a Gothic Novel

...Frankenstein as a Gothic Novel Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein is considered as a Gothic novel but it can be seen as a compilation of both Gothic and Romantic because of the significance of the sublime. Certain events and settings in the novel present the gothic themes. Shelley uses the different themes in her novel to evoke feelings of horror and terror in the reader. Frankenstein engages in a quest in pushing the realms of science to their limits which leads him to playing god and creating an unnatural being using science. One of the themes Shelley uses in the novel to create the gothic presence is the theme of Forbidden Knowledge. Mary Shelley introduces the ideas that science is capable of being very dangerous and has consequences through the character of Victor Frankenstein. Shelley’s time was described as the age of unprecedented scientific discoveries, which influenced her in writing of Frankenstein. The process of the creation of his creation was influenced by the Italian physician Luigi Galvani who discovered “animal electricity” which manifests with the twitching of nerves and muscles when an electric current is applied. Frankenstein seeks to find “the secrets of heaven and earth” to fulfil his quest. He calls them secrets; he is aware they are not to be known and should not be found. Frankenstein knows that acquiring such knowledge would not be easy as he states “how dangerous the acquirement of knowledge”. Frankenstein is aware of the uneasy task of......

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Comparison of Gothic Literature

...the gothic genre (whether in the form of music, art, or literature) a flare for drama seems to be a common thread throughout. In the book the Castle of Otranto, the protagonist Theodore is a classic prince charming. He is always willing to protect a damsel in distress and there is no shortage of those in this story. Theodore is a very passionate man and falls so deeply in love with Matilda that he is willing to risk his life in order to protect and be with her. Likewise, the man from the song “The Unquiet Grave" by Faith and the Muse is also deeply passionate about the woman he loves. Both The Castle of Otranto and “The Unquiet Grave” have elements of supernatural happenings which enhance the drama of the plot. In this essay, I will describe the similarities of the two main characters from each piece of writing being reviewed, as well as which method of coping with grief I found most satisfactory. Theodore and the young man in the song appear to have many similar personality and behaviour traits. Theodore is considered very valiant and noble by many of the characters in the book, particularly the women. An example of this adoration for Theodore comes from a statement that Bianca (Matilda’s handmade) makes to Manfred stating that “he is as comely a youth as ever trod on christian ground: we are all in love with him: there is not a soul in the castle but would be rejoiced to have him for our prince” (Walpole, 1764, p. 122). Theodore also shows immense loyalty to the women......

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