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“The Pull of Dark Depths”: Female Monsters in Nineteenth-Century Gothic Literature

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kayla Marie Lindsey (Creator)
Institution
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: http://www.library.appstate.edu/
Advisor
William Brewer

Abstract: The Gothic literature from the late 1700s to the late 1800s featured a multitude of female characters with monstrous qualities, specifically their transformative and transgressive bodies. Mermaids, vampires, shape-shifters, sexual deviants, and madwomen fill the pages of these works with emotion and movement, harming their victims while seducing them. In an era when conflicting and paradoxical ideas about women flourished in the bourgeois culture, many of these female monsters in the literature of the era often embody these paradoxes, revealing the anxieties of the culture and its perception of women who do not achieve the status of the proper woman. Examination of the female monsters in Anne Bannerman’s “The Mermaid,” Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan leads to a discourse on the transgressive female body, including discussions of sexuality, disease, the undead body, and boundary crossing. By analyzing the women through the lens of the nineteenth-century concepts of the female body and mind, it becomes clear that the monstrous female in literature crosses multiple social and physical boundaries, challenging norms and confirming sexist stereotypes and further confusing the paradoxes of the proper and improper body.

Additional Information

Publication
Thesis
Lindsey,K.M. (2011). “The Pull of Dark Depths”: Female Monsters in Nineteenth-Century Gothic Literature. Unpublished master’s thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2011
Keywords
19th Century British Literature, Monsters, Women in 19th Century British Literature, Gothic literature