‘Some Houses Are Born Bad’ - A Look At The Haunted House Motif In Gothic Writing

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‘Some Houses are born Bad’ (Shirley Jackson, The Haunting). Discuss the Representation of the House or ‘Home’ in a Range of Writers Studied on the Course Throughout the history of both European and American gothic fiction, the setting has played an important role in ensuring the correct atmosphere is achieved; ‘that atmosphere of gloom and decay which adheres to the crumbling abbey and ruined castle in the gothic novel. In few other genres does the setting play such a significant role’ During the ascendancy of European Gothic, novels were typically set in remote structures such as Manfred’s castle in The Castle of Otranto, and, in The Monk the Castle Lindenberg and the Abbey. These settings were inspired by a fear of what lies beyond the borders of civilisation , remote catholic countries generally provided the location for these settings. By the gothic revival of 1850-1880, with the exception of Castle Dracula, the setting had moved from grand, mysterious structures of foreign lands to the urban dwellings and labyrinthine streets of Victorian cities such as Edinburgh and London, the setting for Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner and Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde respectively. This displayed the fears harboured by Victorian Britain concerning urban crime and local dangers. It is in American gothic fiction that the ‘Haunted House’ became a common setting. Dale Bailey writes on Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher; ‘The tale of the Haunted House, while rooted in the European Gothic tradition, has developed a distinctly American resonance; since Poe first described the House of Usher in 1839, the motif of the Haunted House has assumed an enduring role in the American tradition’ this theory is supported when, in Stephen King’s The Shining, Danny notices the similarities between The Overlook Hotel and the Castle owned

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