Humanity, Monstrosity, Gothic Literature & Death Essay

1782 Words Nov 25th, 2013 8 Pages
Humanity, Monstrosity, Gothic Literature & Death by J. Williams

The Gothic genre delves into the depths of humanity, where the presence of the horrible and the macabre represent ‘the dark side’ of human nature. Indeed, according to M. H. Abrams, Gothic novelists invited “fiction to the realm of the irrational and of the perverse impulses and nightmarish terrors that lie beneath the orderly surface of the civilized mind” (111). In such works, unnatural desires and forbidden excesses that are buried and secret in the functioning self, become the monsters lurching around in Gothic lore. Eve Sedgwick expands upon these themes by identifying how the fictional self is “massively blocked off from something to which it ought normally
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The Southern spinster Emily Grierson is a victim of her time and circumstance, who succumbs to the influence of her inner demons, cultivated by the denial a more appropriate expression in society. Like Jane, Emily’s containment is also a matter of survival. She too spent a good part of her life under the dictatorship of an oppressor. In her case, it was her father who denied her natural course, by thwarting the attempts of any would-be suitors while she was still “desirable”. As a result, she became dependent on him both financially and emotionally, perpetuating her confinement long after his death and leaving her no choice but to exist in his wake. In this case, the space that surrounds Emily becomes representative of her. Sedgwick explains that the use of “spaces” can represent the reality existing within a character, “[equating them] with, rather than differentiating [them] from, the surrounding space.”(27). In Emily’s case this is manifested through the town and more specifically her home, where she lived her entire life. The house once beautiful, coveted and admired, becomes something the town would rather discard. This “space” in which Emily exists becomes her depiction. “[The house] was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires, and scrolled balconies… set on what had once been [the town’s] most select street… lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above… an eyesore among eyesores.” (1). Sedgwick also

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