The Gothic Mode in Gaskell and James

1007 Words5 Pages
In the Victorian era, the Gothic genre had ceased to be the dominant genre because of the successful influence of the historical romance. However, it was not abandoned by some writers such as Elizabeth Gaskell with her ghost story, “The Old Nurse’s Story” (1852) or Charles Dickens, among others. Nonetheless, it was not until the end of the 19th century (Fin de Siècle), that a complete revival of the Gothic genre was carried out by some authors, such as Henry James and his novel, “The Turn of the Screw” (1898). Thus, it can be said that the Gothic genre, with its revival with Ghost Stories, serves as a point of transition between centuries. In this sense, I would like to contrast and compare the two pieces of writing mentioned above in order to reach an idea of the different elements that compose the Gothic genre characteristic of the Victorian period, such as the setting, the dark atmosphere, and the fear and horror feeling, and the new ones that were added when introduced the ghost stories narratives, such as those of orphan children, the supernatural and the past, among some others. In both, The Turn of the Screw and The Old Nurse’s Story, the past becomes a focus of anxiety and the story itself a way of anchoring the past to an unsettled present in a continuum of life and death, which is a characteristic feature of Ghost Stories. Ghosts in the Victorian period were images of the lost past which threatened us, but which could be used to confront the demons of guilt and fear, as we can see in both of these stories, on the one hand in the case of James’s Governess and in the other hand in the case of Miss Grace Furnival. Comparing these stories, we can observe that both are pretty similar in content, this may be due to the influence that Charlotte Brönte and Elizabeth Gaskell, who was Brönte’s biographer, displayed on Henry James’s writing. In both stories we
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