By Dale Bailey
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 an enduring function in American tradition. The condominium of Usher” and its literary progeny haven't lacked for tenants within the century and a part on the grounds that: writers from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Stephen King have taken rooms within the haunted homes of yank fiction. Dale Bailey strains the haunted apartment story from its origins in English gothic fiction to the paperback potboilers of the current, highlighting the original importance of the home within the family, monetary, and social ideologies of our country. the writer concludes that the haunted condo has develop into a robust and profoundly subversive image of every little thing that has long gone nightmarishly awry within the American Dream.
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Additional resources for American Nightmares: The Haunted House Formula in American Popular Fiction
These same tensions, as we shall see in a bit, also find expression in perhaps Jackson's finest novel, The Haunting of Hill House, in which the eponymous house comes to represent the vast web of expectations and obligations, of female duties, which enmeshes the central character, Eleanor Vance. But first we will need to take a brief historical detour-a short examination of the American prototype for Gilbert and Gubar's madwoman in the attic. Follow me up the stairs here. There's someone you ought to meet.
However, a careful reading of the story suggests that she is not entirely comfortable with this role. She inhabits a liminal space, existing wholly neither in the realm of John's patriarchal authority nor in the feminized environment of the narrator. She may indeed be her sister-in-law's keeper, but she is a far gentler taskmaster than John, allowing the narrator the isolation she craves and granting her freedom of the house and grounds (19). More significant still, Jennie seems to perceive the woman behind the wallpaperthe woman literally imprisoned in the house and the emblem of female entrapment.
P. Lovecraft's unfortunate first-person narrators, who inevitably continue scribbling away as the unspeakable Yog-Sothoth comes shambling across the floor to devour them. Whatever its consequences in terms of suspending our disbelief, however, Gilman's depiction of insanity remains important. Here again, as in her focus on the house (or at least the wallpaper) instead of traditional ghosts, we can see the influence of Hawthorne and Poe. Though "The Yellow Wallpaper" is profoundly ambiguous (is the house haunted or is our narrator daft ...