Southern gothic fiction

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Southern gothic fiction

  1. 1. Southern Gothic Fiction
  2. 2. Characteristics • The grotesque (freakish) • The outsider • Imprisonment (castle/house/jail) • Violence • Strong Sense of Place • Woman in distress
  3. 3. The grotesque (freakish) • Horror elements as in Poe • Madness is a form of the grotesque, as in Poe, but also in Faulkner and The Yellow wallpaper (not a southern story, but borrows from the gothic) • Deformed characters as in O’Connor • Also may go to an overwhelming sensual effect…the accumulation of images as in The Yellow wallpaper and in O’Connor
  4. 4. The Outsider • May be a witness, as in Fall of the House of Usher. • May be a victim like Homer Barron. • May be one of the grotesque’s, as in the Misfit from O’Connor. • Look for outsiders who are also insiders like Miss Emily.
  5. 5. Imprisonment • Big element in Poe…live burial/claustrophobia. • Used by some women to suggest the oppression of women (The Yellow Wallpaper). • Has its roots in the European haunted castle…look for buildings that oppress/limit/conceal (House of Usher, Yellow Wallpaper/Miss Emily’s house)
  6. 6. Violence • Connects to imprisonment and the grotesque. • Is the defining feature of the gothic. • Characters rely on violence to resolve problems. • Violence often feels inevitable, fated.
  7. 7. Place • Southern writers in particular conjure a strong sense of place. • True more for Faulkner and O’Connor than Poe, perhaps. • Places become characters of their own…the human characters ay be tied to the places.
  8. 8. Woman in Distress • This is an old literary convention (think Iliad). • Tied to the Gothic’s reliance on medieval ideas like Chivalry. • Used (flipped, almost sampled) by female writers to demonstrate the extent of male oppression. • Poe: death of a beautiful woman evokes melancholy.

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