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

By Dale Bailey

 When Edgar Allan Poe set down the story of the accursed apartment of bring in 1839, he additionally laid the root for a literary culture that has assumed a long-lasting function in American tradition. “The condominium of Usher” and its literary progeny haven't lacked for tenants within the century and a part given that: writers from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Stephen King have taken rooms within the haunted homes of yankee fiction. Dale Bailey strains the haunted condominium 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, fiscal, and social ideologies of our kingdom. the writer concludes that the haunted condo has turn 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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These contrasting attitudes toward sexuality come into clear focus when Theo paints Eleanor's toenails. Theo, after all, bolsters Eleanor's desire for independence; she imparts to her the courage to wear a red sweater and red sandals, a color suggesting passion and independence, an emancipated and uninhibited libido. " "You've got foolishness and wickedness somehow mixed up," Theo replies (117), and the comment recalls an incident from the opening chapter of the novel. Early in her journey to Hill House, Eleanor passes an abandoned fairground, formerly the site of motorcycle races.

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. 2. Jackson was by no means the first to employ the haunted house as a metaphor for an oppressive patriarchal society. That honor must certainly go to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 1892 short story ''The Yellow Wallpaper"-and while, as Lynette Carpenter and Wendy K. Colmar point out, it's natural that "a genre concerning itself so centrally with the haunting of houses should attract women writers ...

Though far from perfect, Luke, alone of the novel's male characters, shows the promise of growth. It is ironic, then, that he should serve as a principal catalyst for conflict between Eleanor and Theo. Though she has no romantic interest in Luke, Theo monopolizes his attention, in part because she intuits his importance to Eleanor, in part because, cat-like, she seeks the diversion of an idle moment and prefers Luke to the silences of Hill House. Like a cat, too, she is profoundly amoral, baiting Eleanor with her insight when Luke is busy elsewhere: "Perhaps he has been longing for a tiny home," she mocks, "something smaller, of course, than Hill House; perhaps he will come home with you" (172).

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