American Nightmares: The Haunted House Formula in American - download pdf or read online

By Dale Bailey

ISBN-10: 0879727896

ISBN-13: 9780879727895

 When Edgar Allan Poe set down the story of the accursed apartment of bring in 1839, he additionally laid the basis for a literary culture that has assumed a long-lasting function in American tradition. “The condo of Usher” and its literary progeny haven't lacked for tenants within the century and a part when you consider that: writers from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Stephen King have taken rooms within the haunted homes of yank fiction. Dale Bailey strains the haunted condo story from its origins in English gothic fiction to the paperback potboilers of the current, highlighting the original value of the home within the household, monetary, and social ideologies of our country. the writer concludes that the haunted condominium has turn into a robust and profoundly subversive image of every thing that has long gone nightmarishly awry within the American Dream.

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Still more important are the thematic implications of Gilman's depiction of madness. Whether we read "The Yellow Wallpaper" June Cleaver in the House of Horrors 33 metaphorically as a tale of mental disintegration (as do most critics) or literally as an account of ghostly possession (as Lee Weinstein and E. Suzanne Owens do), we arrive at the same conclusion: in this tale, the haunted house-the wallpaper and the woman trapped behind the paper, imprisoned in the walls of the house-must be seen as a perverse literalization of the angel-in-the-house ideology which confined most nineteenth-century women not only within the roles of wives and mothers but within the walls of their own homes.

Titled MEMORIES, FOR SOPHIA LESTER CRAIN; A Legacy for Her Education and Enlightenment, the book sets forth a series of lessons-humility, the vanity of human accomplishment, the seven deadly sins, and so on---each appropriately illustrated. Signed in Hugh Crain's blood, the book's ideological purpose ironically reflects the fairy tales which permeate Eleanor's psyche. Scratch the surface of a fairy tale, Jackson suggests, and you lay bare the foul philosophy of men like Hugh Crain. Because it embodies Hugh Crain's philosophy in both its architecture and history, Hill House activates Eleanor's ambivalence about the patriarchy and the June Cleaver ideology.

In the end, the story highlights the indeterminacy of knowledge. Even tales that dispense with the tired machinery of the ghost story-the fireplace, the winter night--{iepend upon the essential ambiguity of the ghostly experience. Wharton's "Afterward" presents Lyng, an English estate said to be haunted by a ghost who can be identified only long after the haunting occurs. When Americans Ned and Mary Boyne purchase Lyng, Mary discovers the truth of the legend: her husband disappears with a mysterious visitor-"a slightly built man" later identified as Bob Elwell (62), a victim of her husband's unscrupulous business practices.

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American Nightmares: The Haunted House Formula in American Popular Fiction by Dale Bailey


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