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THE QUEER AND THE UNCANNY IN GOTHIC LITERATURE BY ERIN JAYES A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the Sponsorship of Miriam Wallace Sarasota, Florida May, 2013
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I sincerely thank my thesis sponsor, Dr. Miriam Wallace, for her guidance through the thesis project and throughout my New College career. Every class that I have taken with you has challenged me to write with conviction and read hard. Your life advice, perspective giving and wisdom have been invaluable to me. Your heart is bottomless. Th ank you! Thank you to my committee members, Dr. Robert Zamsky and Dr. Nova Myhill for their input and validation of the hard work I put into this project. Many thanks to my fellow thesis tutorial students, for all their empathetic blog posts and moral supp ort. I would also like to thank my first advisor for three semesters, Dr. Andrea Dimino, for helping me begin my career at New College. I thank my friends who through their sense of humor, vitality, and unique perspectives have made life at New College u nforgettable. Thank s to the folks at Trans* S wagger for the humor and energy that they have provided me this year. I also need to thank my roommates, for their understanding when the dishes occasionally piled up in the sink. Last but not least, I thank my family for their unconditional love and encouragement An old friend pointed out to me recently that a lot of people help you write your thesis, including those who you don't like, and that our intellectual work is affected by the world we live in while w riting it. Reader, if you walk away from this thesis with anything, I hope you see how incredibly new Gothic literature feels when we read it, and that queerness has and will continue to transcend time. Erin Jayes, 8/4/2013
This thesis is dedicated to all the brave queers I've known. Keep up the fight! ! ! !
Table of Contents Acknowledgements............................................................................................... .......... .....ii Dedication........................................................................................................... .......... ......iii Abstract.............................................................................................................. ......... ........v Introduction.................................................................................................. .......... ..............1 Chapter 1: The Queer Double in Edgar Huntly and Frankenstein ..6 Chapter 2: The Queerness of Uncanny Addiction in The Monk and Zofloya ... 37 Chapter 3: Monstrous Mothers, Deadly Femininity, and Reproduction Without Men in Carmilla and She: A History of Adventure ....69 Conclusion............... .................................... ................ ........................ ..............................98 Works Cited.101
THE QUEER AND THE UNCANNY IN GOTHIC LITERATURE Erin Jayes New College of Florida, 2013 ABSTRACT This thesis focuses on how the word "queer" helps u s understand why G othic fiction is so fluid, indeterminate, and unsettling. I designate a broad definition of the word "queer based on non normativ e sexualities and genders to illustrate the word's flexible definition I cho se novels that have a physical connection between characters that is marked as erotic and dangerous to good British social orde r. I use Freud's theory of "the uncanny" as a tool to identify the queer elements in these works because it is interested in the repressed, the disoriented, and the rediscovered. The uncanny describes the feeling of disorientation in the face of something forgotten that turns out t o be already known. This is what makes the uncanny so cong ruent with the queer, for t he se fears are "unspeakable," and the language of the unspeakable produces an uncanny recognition The uncanny nature of Gothic literature makes possible and demands a queer reading. In "Chapter 1: The Queer Double in Edgar Huntly and Frankenstein ," I investigate how queerness manifests itself through the uncanny double or "doppelgnger" in Charles Brockden Brown's Edgar Huntly, or Memoirs of a Sle epwalker (1799) and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus (1818) Homosociality between male doppelganger pairs illustrates how bonds between men supersede that of man and woman. These interdependent pairs are
projections of each other's fears, desires and possible identities. Ones understanding of the self can only happen through the other. "Chapter 2: The Queerness of Uncanny Addiction in The Monk and Zofloya argues for a connection between queering and a ddiction in Matthew Gregory Lewis's famous The Monk (1795) and Charlotte Dacre's Zofloya; or, The Moor (1806). These novels figure characters who are inherently queer in that their status is flu id and their identities shift in all directions from an ideal pious monk to an incestuous rapist and demon lover, from a male novice to a sexually adept woman who looks like the Virgin Mary, to one of Lucifer's favored demons, and from a subservient and exotic black servant to a dominating and demonic figure. Queered characters disrupt these novels' narratives of addiction, revealing that their protagonists are addicted to desire itself, rather than obtaining their desires. In "Chapter 3: Monstrous Mothers, Deadly Femininity, and Reproduction Without Men in Carmilla and She: A History of Adventure ," I draw on the post Freud object relations theories of Melanie Klein and D.W. Winnicott to discuss the protagonists' queer and uncanny relationship with the fatal mother figure in Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla (1872) a nd H. Rider Haggard's She: A History of Adventure (1887). I n conclusion, I consider what the uncanny act of queering means for literature and contemporary culture reiterating that we must hang on to the full richness of "queer" and "queering" to avoid devolving into more acceptable gender/sex identities. Miriam Wallace Division of Humanities
INTRODUCTION Gothic literature, although its specific history is located in late eighteenth century British literature, may be more loosely defined as marked by a rhetorical style and narrative structure designed to produce fear and desire within the reader. This production of fear emanates from a vertiginous excess of meaning, argues critic Judith Halberstam (Halberstam 2). This means that gothic writing is destabilizing and so a site for the exploration of repressed, anxious, or uncanny material. I c ontend that "queer" is an excellent and productive term to describe the Gothic precisely because of its flexibility from ancient to contemporary usages. The meaning of the word "queer" in modern culture varies: sometimes queer names norm resistant identity ; at other times it functions as an inclusive and flexible concept for naming that which is out of the ordinary or non conventional; queer is also productive as a transitive verb as in "to queer something." Today the street use of the term describes non no rmative expressions of gender and sexuality often but not exclusively homosexuality. As a pejorative adjective, "queer" has been current since the sixteenth century and as a noun since the nineteenth. But with the rise of feminism, gay, and lesbian politic al activism, and post structuralist theory in the 1970s 1990s, the term queer' was reclaimed (see Fincher and Haggerty ). The re appropriated nature of the originally derogatory word has made it controversial, and some communities find it degrading. For ot hers, the non specificity and inclusiveness of the term is liberating. This thesis argues that queerness manifests itself in English Gothic literature. Because the content of "queerness" must remain unnamed, fluid, marked only by its stand outside of or i n resistance to the normal, searching for and uncovering what is queer in these works takes multiple forms. Many of these forms however, are marked by a sense of something repressed or
uncanny. The "uncanny," a term explored by Sigmund Freud in his 1919 es say of the same name, is a useful tool for identifying the queer because it is interested in the repressed, the disoriented, and the rediscovered. Freud states that "the uncanny is that class of the terrifying which leads back to something long known to us once very familiar" (Freud 1 2). The uncanny is deeply connected to the feeling of disorientation in the face of something forgotten that turns out to be in fact already known, and this is what makes the concept so congruent with the concept of queer. Th e fears involved in the works I present, those of the characters and of the writers, are fears that cannot be described or named outright. One of the most distinctive of Gothic tropes happens to be the "unspeakable writes Eve Sedgwick in Between Men: Eng lish Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (94), and the language of the unspeakable produces an uncanny recognition. In this way so many critical attempts to pin down and define the gothic are unsuccessful because of its uncanny structure (see Haggerty 3) The uncanny nature of Gothic literature makes a queer reading possible it even demands it. In this thesis I am also using "queer" as a verb. "Queering," as a verb, is useful for marking the activity of interpretation I bring to bear on the works, makin g visible the manner in which these novels incorporate sexual codification and resist normative sex/gender systems. The inclusivity of queering helps us investigate how Gothic fiction offered a testing ground or fantasy space for unauthorized genders and s exualities. However, queerness in Gothic literature is predicated upon something more pervasive and at times, more elusive than sexual identity (Hughes and Smith 2). Characters are not reducible to who they hop into bed with and where we can find kisses be tween men and women (see Fincher). The word "queer" allows us to describe the ways that the gothic subverts the heteronormative prerogative while simultaneously appearing to uphold it. After all, Gothic fiction is about reaching into some indefinable world
beyond fictional reality, a "beyond" that can never be pulled back into narrative control. This is why Gothic fiction remains "queer" and difficult to define and explain. It suggests why and how the Gothic simultaneously challenges the status quo and it e xpands its scope of influence (see Haggerty 10). This thesis promotes the analytic capacity of queer to deconstruct sexual identity, to illuminate the lack of coherence or fixity in erotic relations, and to highlight the radical indeterminacy and transitiv ity of both erotic desire and gender (see Traub 23). I find most useful Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's assertion in her book Tendencies (1993) that "one of the things that queer' can refer to" is "the open mesh of possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances and r esonances, lapses and excesses of meaning when the constituent elements of anyone's gender, of anyone's sexuality aren't made (or can't be made) to signify monolithically" ( Tendencies 8). We should not "take the object of queering for granted" (Goldberg an d Menon, 1616 ). 1 Queer Theory has in many way s been mostly about advocating for the verbally and adjectivally unsettling force of the term "queer" against claims for its definitional stability. Theoretically anything can queer something, and anything, give n a certain odd twist, can become queer" ("Queer Times," 485 ). 2 My goal in this thesis is to present a multifaceted interpretation of these texts, even if these interpretations conflict with one another. In fact, I expect that particular queer actions conf lict with each other. In this thesis I do not want primarily to argue for the "queer" or LGBTQ IA 3 identity of the author as a determining factor, but rather to uncover the queer operating in all of the works I examine, each in its own way, and while often pointing to something we might recognize now as non heteronormative sexuality, not necessarily si mply !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cited in Traub. # Cited in Traub. 3 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual.
about an illicit sexual identity. Gothic is not, and has never been, an exclusively homosexual genre. Queerness is more than a matter of encoded sexual preferences and identities The chapters in this thesis have very different projects, but they all argue for a connection between the queer and the uncanny in their own ways. In "Chapter 1: The Queer Double in Edgar Huntly and Frankenstein ," I investigate how queerness manifests itself through the uncanny double or "doppelgnger" in Charles Brockden Bro wn's Edgar Huntly, or Memoirs of a Sleepwalker (1799) and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus (1818) Homosociality between male doppelganger pairs, recounted to an absent woman and with its crisis played out in a threat of murder to anot her woman, illustrates how bonds between men supersede that of man and woman. "Chapter 2: The Queerness of Uncanny Addiction in The Monk and Zofloya argues for a connection between queering and addiction in Matthew Gregory Lewis's famous The Monk (1795) a nd Charlotte Dacre's Zofloya; or, The Moor (1806). These novels figure characters who are inherently queer in that their status is fluid and their identities shifting in all directions from an ideal pious monk to an incestuous rapist and demon lover, from a male novice to a sexually adept woman who looks like the Virgin Mary, to one of Lucifer's favored demons, and from a subservient and exotic black servant to a dominating and demonic figure. Queered characters disrupt these novels' narratives of addiction revealing that their protagonists are addicted to desire itself, rather than obtaining their desires. In "Chapter 3: Monstrous Mothers, Deadly Femininity, and Reproduction Without Men in Carmilla and She: A History of Adventure ," I draw on the post Freud object relations theories of Melanie Klein and D.W. Winnicott to discuss the protagonists' queer and uncanny relationship with the fatal mother figure in Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla (1872) and H. Rider Haggard's She: A History of
Adventure (1887). I conclude with a consideration of what this uncanny act of queering means for literature and contemporary culture. When reading the critical literature on Queer Theory in the Gothic, one is struck by an uncannily personal sense of identification with the Gothic that underscores work on the subject. Queer scholarship's encounter with the Gothic is uncanny in that it appears to be based on a sense of a "secret encounter" in which the texts bring to light something that ought to be repressed, something that f eels particularly pertinent to people whose identities, bodies, and desires have been culturally designated unspeakable, and who identify with the queer. But the relationship between the Gothic and Queer Theory can also be called uncanny insofar as it is b ound up with a "compulsion to tell, a compulsive storytelling" (Rigby 48). It is my hope that this thesis will stimulate further discussion of how reading the Gothic in this way provides new insights into gothic's uncanny nature and how the queer helps us to understand it.
CHAPTER 1: The Queer Double in Edgar Huntly and Frankenstein The two novels studied in this chapter, one by an American author, Charles Brockden Brown's Edgar Huntly, or Memoirs of a Sleepwalker (1799), and one by a British author, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus (1818 ) 4 may seem odd choices for comparison. Brown's Edgar Huntly is less frequently examined by critics than his earlier Wieland and much less widely analyzed than Shelley's famous work. Mary Shelley's Frankenstei n is one of the most widely read works of the Romantic period and considered by many to be the first science fiction novel. Brown's work takes on a history fiction nexus and examines issues of personal identity such as race, gender, and sexuality; Shelley' s work explores the complex issues of identity and responsibility through speculative science, family structure, and childhood education. It is the phenomenon of the paranormal double or "doppelgnger" (German for "double walker") that ties these two books together and makes them an instructive comparison. Modern explanations of the doppelgnger describe the sensation of having glimpsed oneself in peripheral vision in such a way that it could not have been a reflection. Scientific and philosophical investi gations have taken up the term and notable authors, including Shelley's husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, have recalled meeting their doppelgnger (Bennett 245) The nineteenth century founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, ties the idea of the doppelgnge r to unbounded self love, narcissism, the alter ego and transferring of mental processes from one person to the other: "One possesses knowledge, feeling, and experience in common with the other, identifies himself with another person, so that his self beco mes confounded, or the foreign self is substituted for his own in other words, by doubling, dividing, and interchanging the self" !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! $ It should b e noted that I am using the origional 1818 text of Frankenstein; or, the Moden Prometheus.
(Freud 9). Linked with the doppelgnger is the constant recurrence and involuntary return to similar situations, a repeated or familiar face or character trait, a twist of fortune or a familiar crime. This "repetition compulsion" aspect characterizes both novels. Coming from a post structuralist mindset, we can argue that, in addition to the odd content of doppelgngers and th e return of the repressed, the unsettling nature of these texts themselves is queer. I argue that many conventions, signs, codes, linguistic figures, lexical devices and rhetorical tropes that have come to be recognizable to readers as "Gothic" can be reco gnized as signifying "queer" (Rigby 47). The text itself creates an impression of deviant and dangerous sexual possibility. In this thesis I draw heavily from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's book Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (1985), which analyzes male homosocial culture, homoerotic desire, homosexual panic and homophobia across English literature, but with special focus on the nineteenth century "paranoid Gothic." One of Sedgwick's main projects is to explore the ways in which the sh apes of sexuality and what counts as sexuality both depend upon and affect historical power relationships. "Homosociality," which Sedgwick distinguishes from "homosexuality," connotes a form of male bonding often accompanied by a fear and hatred of homosex uality. The homosocial spectrum for men consists of the homosocial on one end (men's clubs and other all male spaces) and the homosexual on the other. In short, bonding between men and male only socializing are both conventional and normative, but have to be separated from the actual acting out of male male erotic attraction to maintain masculine/male cultural domination. Where male homosociality becomes too openly erotic, it risks revealing the possibility of male homosexuality that subtends traditional ma sculinity itself.
Sedgwick quotes Lvi Strauss in noting that marriage historically has been a mode for cementing relations between two groups of men through the exchange of women. The woman is a "conduit of a relationship," in which the true partner is m ale. Thus, bonds between men supersede that of the man and the woman (Sedgwick 24 26). Male homosociality plays a major role in the two novels under consideration here. Our doppelgnger pairs Edgar Huntly and Clithero Edny in Brown's novel, and Frankens tein and the creature in Shelley's novel can only access what they want through each other. T. J. Lustig argues that Edgar Huntly and Clithero are projections of each other's fears, desires and possible identities (Lustig 14). The pursuit of knowledge, th e understanding of the self, and the expression of one's sexuality can only happen through the other. Edgar Huntly, o r Memoirs of a Sleepwalker In Edgar Huntly, or Memoirs of a Sleepwalker (1799), the unconscious is always boiling up from underneath. The idea that we can be alien to ourselves, that there are parts of us that we do not know are there, is on display in the novel and is part of the reason why Edgar Huntly can be characterized as "paranoid" as much as it is "queer." I argue, following Sedgwick, that the strongest emotional connections are those between male characters, and male male relations are strongly linked to the su blime. This is despite a frame narrative that emphasizes a n apparently conventional heterosexual context in which the haunted Edgar writes to his absent fiance. As recent scholarship has brought new insights into Charles Brockden Brown's engagement with issues concerning gender and sexuality, the importance of q ueer dynamics is his writing has also attracted scholarly attention. If Edgar Huntly, or Memoirs of a Sleepwalker dramatizes a man's world, it also expresses hopes and anxieties about new models of homosocial behavior between
men. With its emphasis on mean s of com munication between men that uses tone and gesture as "coding," rather than explicit speech, and a tension between private actions and public role, Edgar Huntly evokes many late eighteenth century homoerotic themes (see Barnard and Shapiro xxxiv). The queer uncanny is manifested in the doubling relationship between Edgar Huntly and his friend and antagonist, Clithero Edny. Edgar's somnambulism takes him through his own unconscious world, which is embodied by the picturesque mountain landscape throug h which he rambles. Descriptions of spatial and geographical borders are a symbolic map for psychic ones (Barnard and Shapiro xxxiv ) as Edgar becomes uncanny to himself. In the following explanation I explore how the uncanny physical wilderness of the nove l paints a picture of the internal wilderness that is Edgar's psyche and that I argue is inherently queer. The "repetition compulsion" of returning to the same place repeatedly with one's "dark double" contributes to Norwalk's uncanny atmosphere. Edgar Hun tly is written as a series of letters from Edgar, who lives on a farm outside Philadelphia with his uncle and sisters, to his fiance, Mary, who it is implied may be pregnant. From the first few sentences of the novel, we are confronted with masculine suff ering and a sense of anxiety about telling Edgar's story and whether it can be told at all: I sit down, my friend, to comply with thy request. At length does the impetuosity of my fears, the transports of my wonder permit me to recollect my promise and pe rform it. At length am I somewhat delivered from suspense and from tremors Till now, to hold a steadfast pen was impossible Yet am I sure that even now my perturbations are sufficiently stilled for an employment like this? That the incidents I am going t o relate can be recalled and arranged without indistinctness and confusion? That emotions will not be re awakened by my narrative, incompatible with order and coherence? (Brown 5)
At first, it is unclear where Edgar's anxiety stems from, for he is, after all, writing to someone who m he intends to marry. Edgar's fear is in many ways vested in the idea of not knowing himself, and as Edgar predicts, much of the novel is presented with much "indistinctness and confusion." In "Man to Man: I Need Not to Dread hi s Encounter: Edgar Huntly's End of Erotic Pessimism," Stephen Shapiro sees this novel as Edgar's coming out story to his fiance (Shapiro 216). While Edgar Huntly is arguably the most homoerotic book that this thesis covers, I resist using "queer" as an eq uivalent to gay male identity. I have explained how I use the active word "queering" to include a range of sexualities and desires that are not limited to gay men and women. Doppelgangers and literary doubles are obviously not always gay men, but there are all kinds of desires vested in Edgar and Clithero's relationship: a desire for recognition, a desire to not be alone, a desire to dominate or to be the other, etc. Edgar Huntly is not queer simply because of the gay male sexuality it contains; it is queer, more interestingly, because of its coding of desires which include but aren't limited to gay desire. For example, it is queer that everything in this novel is filtered through Edgar, who is a rather unreliable narrator ( for he is sleepwalking much of the time). It is also rather queer that Edgar lives at the edge of civilization, where the conventions of the social world don't seem able to hold. There are just too many mysterious persons and apparent threats, including bu t not limited to the Delaware Indians. The first half of the novel chronicles the parallel lives of Clithero and Edgar on the western edge of Pennsylvania's settlements in the late 1700s and how they learn about each other in a physical setting that evoke s the sublime. Edgar first stumbles upon Clithero under an elm tree next to Edgar's Solebury home. This is also the location where his friend Waldegrave, Mary's brother, had recently been murdered. Edgar expresses tremendous affection and reverence towards Walegrave and describes him as a man whose "piety was rapturous" and
"benevolence was a stranger to remissness or torpor" (Brown 6). Edgar recalls "the insanity of vengeance and grief." He "hung over the youth" as he expired and "accompanied his remains t o the grave" (Brown 6). Edgar is determined to learn who murdered Waldegrave and he obsesses over this mystery for much of the novel. The scene under the elm marks Edgar and Clithero's first homoerotic encounter. By associating Clithero so strongly with Ed gar's lost Waldegrave, the reader is invited to collapse the one into the other. On that night, Edgar returns to the scene of the crime and sights a man described as "robust and strange, half naked," digging vigorously under the tree. Finding himself in th e position of a voyeur, Edgar wonders about the decency of his gaze, but cannot help but speculate that this man could be Waldegrave's murderer: "Was it proper to watch him at a distance, unobserved and in silence, or to rush upon him and extort from him b y violence or menaces, an explanation of the scene?" (Brown 9). Suddenly, Clithero stops digging and bursts out sobbing. Male suffering, a predominant theme in this book, characterizes much of Clithero's life. Edgar expresses deep compassion: Never did I w itness a scene of such mighty anguish, such heart bursting grief. What should I think? I was suspended in astonishment. Every sentiment, at length, yielded to my sympathy. Every new accent of the mourner struck upon my heart with additional force, and tear s found their way spontaneously to my eyes. (Brown 9) Later we will learn that Clithero was burying the memoir of his former caretaker, Ms. Lorimer. Unaware of this, Edgar advances with the desire to touch the man's hand in sympathetic alliance: "I was p rompted to advance nearer and hold his hand" (Brown 10). But Clithero then passes Edgar without acknowledgment, despite grazing against his arm in a way that allows Edgar a better view of "his brawny arms and lofty stature" (Brown 10). Edgar readily offers the explanation that Clithero is sleepwalking: "I could not fail to terminate in one conjecture, that
this person was asleep" (Brown 10). Edgar represents sleepwalking as a symptom of suppressed truth: "The incapacity of sound sleep denotes a mind sorely wounded. It is thus that atrocious criminals denote the possession of some dreadful secret The thoughts, which considerations of safety enables them to suppress or disguise during wakefulness" (emphasis added, Brown 11). Whatever Clithero is hiding Edgar assumes would be dangerous to reveal, making him all the more fascinating to Edgar: "This is the perpetrator of some nefarious deed To comprehend it, demands penetration into the recesses of his soul" (Brown 11). Edgar here is displaying a fascination wi th Clithero because he suspects him of having something to hide, and even more so because he suspects him of being the murderer of his beloved Waldegrave. This obsessive substitution of the wounded Clithero for the dead and lost Waldegrave is in itself que er seemingly peculiar, illogical, and yet emotionally loaded. At length Edgar discovers that Clithero is an immigrant from Ireland and his neighbor Ingelfeld's servant. This is the first appearance of Clithero's name. "Clitheroe" is the name of a town i n Lancashire, England. The character's last name, "Edny," is an anagram for "deny" and sounds similar to "Edgar." This phonetic similarity between "Edgar" and "Edny," Stephen Shapiro argues, echoes the way Edgar increasingly doubles and comes to resemble C lithero in the course of the novel (Barnard and Shapiro 12). For nights after his first encounter with Clithero, he is unable to sleep: "Hours were employed in revolving these thoughts My slumbers were imperfect (Brown 13). Already starting to feel the effects of insomnia, Edgar begins making nightly visits to the Elm. He spots Clithero under the Elm again and, watching him walk into the forest, he decides to follow: "I resolved to tread, as closely as possible, in his foots teps, and not to lose sight of him till the termination of his career" (Brown 14). With a fascination that is obsessive and imitative, Edgar
begins to follow Clithero on his nightly ramblings through Norwalk, and subsequently, turns into a sleepwalker hims elf. As Edgar probes the inner recesses of Norwalk, he can't quite pinpoint his attraction to Clithero, but he recognizes the dangerousness of his curiosity and attraction: "For what purpose shall I prosecute this search? What benefit am I to reap from thi s discovery? No caution indeed can hinder the experiment from being hazardous. Is it wise to undertake experiments by which nothing can be gained, and much may be lost? Curiosity is vicious, if undisciplined by reason, and inconducive to benefit" (Brown 13 ). Edgar acknowledges that his curiosity is a kind of vice, one that could be interpreted as an inappropriate form of male contact. He is walking a fine line on what we would call the "break" in the homosocial spectrum, at risk of losing his patriarchal po wer by engaging in inappropriate forms of male bonding. As Edgar becomes more an d more obsessed with Clithero, he begins to over identify with him and lose his own sense of self. That which has been hidden or repressed resurfaces within the inner recesses of Norwalk, Edgar and Clithero's playground for imitating and following each other. Edgar describes, in minute detail, every move that Clithero makes to the point where one wonders if they are the same person in two bodies. It is in Norwalk that we see Edgar and Clithero's queer doppelganger relationship develop. Critics are torn over what to make of Brown's excessively long scenic descriptions. Stephen Shapiro argues: Edgar Huntly fuses anatomy, geography, and knowledge about the secret place of homoe rotic contact to idealize Norwalk as a fulfilling refuge in contrast to Edgar's Solesbury home, named as the place where one's soul feels as if it is enduring a live burial (Shapiro 219). To understand the specifics of Edgar's and Clithero's interactions in the Norwalk landscape, it is essential to describe "the picturesque," a term that critics often use to
describe the striking visual qualities in Edgar Huntly In "Charles Brockden Brown Edgar Huntly' and the Origins of the American Picturesque," Dennis Berthold defines the picturesque as signifying a positive, beneficial relationship between humankind and nature. The term originated in eighteenth century landscape painting and improvem ents of estates. It gradually extended its meaning to connote vivid, graphic passages of literary landscape description. It has everything to do with a conscious search for pleasure not in the symmetrical and beautiful, but in the asymmetrical or striking. For instance, while a rolling green field can be beautiful, a forest marred by a twisted and blasted tree trunk is properly picturesque. Thus, the picturesque introduces a queer element into the conventionally beautiful without achieving the mingled terro r and awe of the sublime. When he surmises that Clithero may be hiding in Norwalk, Edgar becomes passionately infused with "the idea of the wilderness" and feels "new incitements to ascend its cliffs and pervade its thickets" (Brown 103). More than ever, he wants to commune with "the spirit that breathes its inspiration in the gloom of forests and on the verge of streams," to "immerse myself in shades and dells, and hold converse with the solemnities and secrecies of nature in the rude retreats of Norwalk" (Brown 103). Berthold notes that i n Brown's periodical Literary Magazine, he states that the picturesque stimulates "that active pursuit of pleasure, when the fibres are braced by a keen air, in a wild, romantic situation; when the activity of the body a lmost keeps pace with that of the mind, and eagerly scales every rocky promontory, explores every new recess!" (Brown 47). Berthold describes Norwalk as "known wilderness." It is: wilderness named, charted, and admired. It is neither as dangerous nor as wi ld as the unknown regions beyond. The region lies between the cultivated farmlands of Solesbury and the trackless wilds frequented by "savages" and dangerous beasts. It is a
definable borderground that provides the sensitive observer with the wild and rugg ed beauty of the picturesque. Edgar's personal familiarity with Norwalk further domesticates it and warrants his sweeping claim, "Perhaps no one was more acquainted with this wilderness than I." (Berthold 100) Brown places Norwalk on the fringe of civili zation, quite near houses, farms, and villages, only a few miles from the Huntly family farm, and close enough for a day's easy ramble. As Edgar explains, "A sort of continued vale, winding and abrupt, leads into the midst of this region and through it. Th is vale serves the purpose of a road. It is a tedious maze and perpetual declivity, and requires, from the passenger, a cautious and sure foot" (105). Berthold argues that Edgar has long since mastered these labyrinthine intricacies. He can journey from hi s uncle's farm to Norwalk and back in less than one night, and thus, Norwalk is a rugged but not forbidding or inaccessible place. I would like to challenge Berthold's notion that Edgar has complete mastery of Norwalk. If we are to follow through with the "psychic landscape metaphor" of Norwalk that Edgar is grappling with something that he does not fully understand then this complicates Berthold's argument. Edgar's grand, sweeping statement about his familiarity with Norwalk signals his anxieties and insecurities his wish that he know this rather than a display of his rustic competence. The critic Alan Axelrod argues that the landscapes in Edgar Huntly represent a "metaphysic wilderness" and are less important as descriptions of actual places than as a bstracted images of a mental landscape (Axelrod 47). By being so close to home, Norwalk falls into that "class of terrifying which leads back to something known to us, once very familiar" (Freud 1). Norwalk feels so queer because of its uncanny elements the overstated claim to knowledge, the proximity to the familiar, and the repetition of another man's wanderings that Edgar feels
compelled to make against his own rational determination that this is useless and even overly aggressive. According to Freud, "the better oriented in his environment a person is, the less readily will he get the impression of something uncanny in regard to the objects and events in it" (Freud 2). I argue that Edgar's Norwalk ramblings are in effect, the same scene, his constant r evisiting of an unconscious urge that he wishes to understand. His uncanny sense of disorientation in the forest reveals the queerness of his compelled repetition of Clithero's wanderings. In "The Uncanny," Freud gives a "repetition compulsion" scenario: Once, as I was walking through the deserted streets of a provincial town in Italy which was strange to me, on a hot summer afternoon, I found myself in a quarter the character of which could not long remain in doubt. Nothing but painted women were to be se en at the windows of the small houses, and I hastened to leave the narrow street at the next turning. But after having wandered about for a while without being directed, I suddenly found myself back in the same street, where my presence was now beginning t o excite attention. I hurried away once more, but only to arrive yet a third time by devious paths in the same place. Now, however, a feeling overcame me which I can only describe as uncanny, and I was glad enough to abandon my exploratory walk and get str aight back to the piazza I had left a short while before. (Freud 11) Freud talks similarly of wandering the same path repeatedly in a misty mountain forest, or fumbling for a light switch in a dark room, only to collide with the same piece of furniture a gain and again. He illustrates here that whatever reminds us of this inner repetition compulsion is perceived as uncanny. This involuntary return to the same situation forces upon us the idea of something fateful and inescapable where otherwise we should h ave spoken of "chance" only. The first time Edgar follows Clithero through Norwalk, he is surprised by the difficulty of Clithero's path: "The way that he has selected was difficult; sometimes considerable force was requisite to beat down obstacles, somet imes, it led into a deep glen, the sides of which were so
steep as scarcely to afford a footing; sometimes, into fens, from which some exertions were necessary to extricate the feet, and sometimes, through rivulets, of which the water rose to the middle" ( Brown 15). Edgar's description of his exhausting journey makes apt the metaphor of the "psychic landscape." Edgar creates an image of his own mind as complicated and inconsistent and his travels resemble a quest that is both mapped out and psychical. They finally arrive at "the verge of a considerable precipice" (Brown 15). He again describes the rugged nature of the landscape, and states: "This scene reminded me of my situation," making the psychic metaphor overt, since Edgar's situation is literally and m etaphorically at the edge of a precipice. He has an uncanny identification with the space: "This vale, though I had never before viewed it by the glimpses of the moon, suggested the belief that I had visited it before" (Brown 15). In the midst of his uneas iness, Clithero disappears into a small cave. Edgar waits outside for Clithero to emerge, but instead "presently an animal leapt forth, of what kind I was unable to discover" (Brown 16). Seeming to transform the human Clithero into an animal, since Edgar c annot find Clithero after this, elicits a sense of the uncanny at work, highlighting a sense of queerness about this long series of repetitions. Edgar's description of Norwalk clearly identifies the space as wild, but his knowledge of it is "extremely impe rfect" (Brown 66). Most of his description of the terrain describes the obstacles that get in one's way while traveling through Norwalk (fallen trees, deep dells, rushing bodies of water, inclement weather, etc.) and the fact that Norwalk is full of the "u nknown" (67). On these "sleepwalks" through Norwalk, Edgar's fascination with Clithero grows. Addiction to physical stress and the eroticism of sweat and physical weariness are present in Edgar's recollections: "Though the air was frosty, my limbs were bed ewed with sweat and my joints were relaxed with toil, but I was obstinately bent upon proceeding" (Brown 15). Exposing
himself to the elements in order to pursue his object of fascination becomes fetishistic, and he describes it obsessively. Edgar also des cribes how he loves to experience the dangerous and unknown aspects of Norwalk: "I love to immerse myself in shades and dells, and hold converse with the solemnities and secrecies of nature in the rude r etreats of Norwalk" (Brown 99). He acknowledges havin g often thought about "penetrating" these zones, even though he is only familiar with "its outlines and mos t accessible parts" (Brown 228). This "zone" he refers to doubles as a gothic landscape and a place for male male exploration. Not only do Clithero a nd Edgar double each other, but Norwalk itself is a space where homoeroticism becomes potentially empowered but also contested, as Barnard and Shapiro argue (Barnard and Shapiro xxxvi). At length, Edgar confronts his friend Ingelfeld and asks to speak to h is servant. Edgar demands that Clithero confess to Waldegrave's murder and Clithero does confess, but not to Waldegrave's murder. Instead he recalls a complicated story about his life in Ireland, where he believes he was responsible for the death of a woma n who was his patron, after which he fled to Pennsylvania. It becomes clear that Edgar and Clithero's lives follow an analogous pattern: they both are "tutored by the English colonialist Sarsefield, both are driven by intolerable social pressures to sleep walk, and both are pressured toward marriage to the same inheritor of the British imperial class system. Like the Indians they outdo in barbarity, both are driven to violence in cycles of displacement" (Barnard and Shapiro xxiii). Thus, Edgar is a double of Clithero in more ways than one; his fascination with Clithero appears both as a fascination with the other man and a fascination with himself. When Edgar hears Clithero's story, he has to make a judgment about Clithero's reliability. Kimiyo Ogawa in F ear American Wilderness: Materialism in Charles Brockden
Brown's Edgar Huntley, argues: "Affected by the narrative, Edgar justifies Clithero's past conduct by depicting him as the frail man incarnate: If consequences arise that cannot be foreseen, shall we find no refuge in the persuasion of our rectitude of human frailty?'" (Ogawa 9). But is this frailty or fear? Stephen Shapiro argues that it is fear, specifically "homosexual panic" in the form of "paranoid Gothic," and describes somnambulism as a code word for "restless bed syndrome" (Shapiro 230). In another framing, and perhaps more queerly, Edgar expresses a fear of himself that he t o o could be as unstable as Clithero. When Clithero flees to the "mountain within a mountain" in order to commit suicide by self starvation, Edgar embarks on a journey that will take him to an other wordly experience and the homoerotic pinnacle of Norwalk. "The disappearance of Clithero had furnished new incitements to ascend its cliffs and pervade its thickets" (Brown 66). After wandering for days, with only some food and his tomahawk, he enters a c ave of "dunnest obscurity." Darkness, like rough terrain, is something that further pushes Edgar to pursue Clithero. "Chilling damps, the secret trepidation which attended me, the length and difficulties of my way, enhanced by the ceaseless caution and the numerous expedients which the utter darkness obliged me to employ, began to ov erpower my strength" (Brown 70). Edgar describes moving through a slender, contracted channel which forces him onto his hands and knees before it suddenly opens into an internal space, which he navigates by feeling the walls with his hands. He describes this experience not as perilous or anxiety producing, but as delightful. He enjoys "exquisite sensations" and "unspeakably delicious" air (Brown 70). Shapiro argues that this pass age through the channel is undoubtedly a metaphor for anal sex. "Edgar's sublime sense of deviation from the "customary paths of men" anatomizes Norwalk's intestinal entryway as an anal terrain
of mal e male intercourse" (Shapiro 4). It is also a sort of re verse birth a kind of self discovery that may be a discovery of the self as a space to explore and it is associated with Clithero. Edgar finds Clithero's mountain when he emerges from the dark tunnel. Atop a "dizzy" height, above a valley "lighted from a r ift, which some convulsion of nature made in the roof," Edgar describes the scene before him as "a cylindrical mass, with a cavity dug in the centre, whose edge conforms to the exterior ledge; and, if you place in this cavity another cylinder, higher than that which surrounds it, but so small as to leave between its sides and those of the cavity, an hollow space, you will gain as distinct and image of this hill a s words can convey" (Brown 70). Rough physical language is used when Edgar chooses to work with an obstacle instead of simply passing it. He does not refer to this phallic structure as something that he needs to overcome, but as something that he needs to work with in order to pass. When he looks into the chasm, which he describes as "dizzying" and perilous," he immediately considers finding a way to get into the "interior space (Brown 71). He crosses a river's gulf by cutting down a tree to use its trunk for a bridge. This is probably the zenith of Edgar's "environmental acts" because he manages not only to work with the environment, but also to manipulate it to get what he wants. After star ing down into the abyss, he declares: "These thoughts inspired me with a new zeal. To effect my purpose it was requisite to reach the opposite steep" (Brown 73). Huntly straddles the tree trunk, again on hands and knees, and then he discovers a previously concealed "cavity." He "fearlessly penetrated" this opening to follow a perfectly parallel passage through a "solid mass" that "Nature" has caused to "dispart." The channel opens into yet another chamber, where Edgar sees a sleeping Clithero "stretched upo n a bed of moss." Clithero's claustrophobic cave functions as a place for male
male intimacy, away from the conventions of Solesbury, where the seeming danger of environmental decay provides the s ecurity of isolation (see Shapir o for a similar reading). Wh ile a gay reading like Shapiro's argues that Edgar has carefully written with an "alternative language" to describe gay sex, my queer investigation makes it apparent that coded language is used to describe how Edgar "queers" the landscape as his sense of s elf begins to erode and become intertwined with the identity of his doppelg nger. However, one may ask: why do geographical obstacles only bring Edgar and Clithero together as opposed to other characters? For example, Mary and Edgar are geographically sepa rated, but Edgar rarely expresses interest in breaching that distance. Clithero also fails to express interest in becoming geographically closer to Lorimer and Clarice his benefactress and his intended wife : "That my destiny should call upon me to lie dow n and die, in a region so remote from the scene of my crimes; at a distance, so great, from all that witnessed and endured their consequences" (Brown 25). The simple answ er to this is that Clithero and Edgar are n ot interested in the company of women for their world is a homosocial one However, it can also be said that the singularity of Edgar and Clithero's relationship in their environment illustrates that it only works within the terms that Brown has put in place through language. If other character's relationships worked that way in this book, then it would be harder to claim that Edgar and Clithero are "doubled," or living analogous lives in analogous environments. In the end of the novel, Clithero is ultimately undercut because Edgar foolishly enabl es him to seek his former patron and, it is suggested, violently approach her. The knowledge that Clithero is menta lly ill makes for an unsettling ending to the novel, causing the reader to question Edgar's sanity/reliability. The story closes with Edgar b eing accused of causing Mary's miscarriage from the shock of his speaking about "matters best left murmured between men
(see Shapiro). Shapiro read s Edgar's rhetorical question addressed to Mary, "Would it be just to expose thee to pollution and depravit y from this source" (Brown 127)? as "when can I come out to you?" However, I don't see that Brown is willing to give us a straight answer (pun intended). What is perhaps an even queerer explanation for Mary's miscarriage is the shock of hearing that Clither o is living a life of manic i nstability, and that her fiancee has been imitating that instability for the entire book. It is as if the book punishes Edgar's and our obsession with Clithero in order to normalize the ending. The ending is a threat and a fear that everyone shares in. T he wilderness is a kind of gothic wish fulfillment space in this novel Edgar's repetition of Clithero's actions is a way to imitate him and even almost become him a kind of extreme sympathy or cross identification. In the cycli cal, uncanny repetition of their wanderings through Norwalk, Edgar becomes Clithero and is able to magically find him in a fantasy of male identification. The queer manifests itself as undecidability in this chapter the uncertainty of that which feels od d, uncomfortable, unsettling, but ultimately not reconciled to a single answer. Frankenstein Frankenstein (1818) is well trod by critics, and the range of critical interpretations is vast. Frankenstein's creature has been read as the embodiment of scienti fic or male hubris 5 of maternal or neonatal monstrosity 6 of male homosexual panic 7 and of transgender rage 8 among other interpretations The text is even frequently read as a critical portrait of Percy (see Michel). Popular culture representations of Frankenstein's creature portray the story as deceptively !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 See Richardson, From Emile to Frankenstein : The Education of Monsters 6 See Gilbert and Gubar, "Horror's Twin." 7 See Sedgwick, "The Coherenc e of G othic Conventions." 8 See Stryker "My Words to Victor Frankenstein above the Village of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage."
simple, yet the depth and complication of the text leaves room for disagreement and competing readings. In this study I use the term "creature" instead of "monster" for I think that the latter term i s unfairly loaded, and creature is the term more regularl y used in Shelley's own writing. The word "monster" rings all too clearly with pop culture image of the creature, which portrays a rambling, incoherent beast. Given the fact that the novel's creatu re develops emotionally, linguistically and sexually throughout the story, the word "monster" doesn't seem appropriate. While Halberstam's revisioning of the "monster" helps us grapple with the monstrosity of queerness in Shelley's novel, the word "creatur e" is more useful for my purposes, for the word "create" is built into the word. In this section I argue that the creation and birth of Frankenstein's creature is a queer action in which Frankenstein brings an uncanny representation of himself to light. Fr ankenstein and the creature are queer doubles, mirroring a special relationship and desire that is both familial and sexual. Freud's exploration of the psyche argued that everything that ought to have remained hidden and secret, yet comes to light is uncan ny (Freud 3). This repression of experience distorts meaning in Frankenstein In Skin Shows; Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters Judith Halberstam argues that within the Gothic novel, multiple interpretations are embedded in the text; part of the experience of horror comes from the realization that meaning itself runs riot The body of the "monster," Halberstam argues, is a symbol for this interpretive mayhem. In this way, monstrosity unites monstrous form with monstrous meaning. The rhetorical s ystem of Shelley's novel does not allow for the reader to know exactly what the creature is. We cannot compartmentalize the creature into a single category (human/nonhuman, alive/dead, born/made), and the creature's lack of identity exacerbates his
"monstr ous" meaning. This uncertainty is what makes the creature so frightening and implicitly also queer. Freud quotes Jentsch on the uncanny story: In telling a story, one of the most successful devices for easily crafting uncanny effects is to leave the reade r in uncertainty whether a particular figure in the story is a human being or an automaton; and to do it in such a way that his attention is not directly focused upon his uncertainty, so that he may not be urged to go into the matter and clear in up immedi ately, since that, as we have said, would quickly dissipate the peculiar emotional effect of the thing. (Freud 5) It is not the objective of the uncanny to resolve uncertainty, but to implant that uncertainty in the mind of the reader. Calling the reader' s sense of reality into question produces the uncertainty that makes the uncanny work. Freud points to how the uncanny presents itself in instances in which one "doubts whether an apparently animate being is really alive; or conversely, whether a lifeless object might not in fact be animate" (Freud 5). His specific examples of this include waxwork figures, artificial dolls, automatons, and paranormal creatures. While Freud would attribute Frankenstein's creation as "self regarding feelings" and "unbounded s elf love" (Freud 10), I instead wish to direct our explanation towards how the uncanny nature of this relationship helps us identify the queerness inherent in it. As in Edgar Huntly there is a tremendous amount of doubling that occurs in this book apart from Frankenstein and the creature: doubling between Frankenstein and Elizabeth, between Frankenstein and Clerval, between Frankenstein and Walden, among others. Frankenstein is constantly haunted by complementary images of himself in those that he knows. In these doubling relationships, his repressed queerness resurfaces and he expresses this through destructive actions that harm himself and his family. As the male relationships in Frankenstein range from Victor's affectionate, homosocial, arguably homoero tic, friendships with Henry
Clerval and Captain Walton, to the repressed desire, homosexual panic and homophobia readable in his deadly bond with the creature, the text does seems particularly concerned with desire between men (Rigby 38). The first "doubl ing" that we see in the novel occurs when Walton, our frame narrator who stumbles upon Victor Frankenstein during an Arctic voyage, observes Frankenstein chasing the creature on a bobsled. When Walton brings the ill and damaged Frankenstein on board, he fi nds the friend and companion that he had been longing for so ardently. He writes to his sister: "I have no friend, Margaret I desire the company of a man who could sympathize with me; whose eyes would reply to mine" (Shelley 53). When Walton asks what Fra nkenstein had been doing out in subzero temperatures, Frankenstein replies: "To seek one who fled from me" (Shelley 59). Like Edgar, Frankenstein chases his doppelg nger through a psychic wilderness that manifests itself as a barren wasteland instead of a mountainous forest. After only a brief amount of time spent with him, Walton appreciates the duality of emotions within Frankenstein. This is the "double life" that Walton refers to: "Such a man has a double existence: he may suffer misery, and be overwhel med by disappointments; yet when he has retired into himself, he will be like a celestial spirit, that has a halo around him, within whose circle no grief or folly ventures" (Shelley 61). It is at this point that Frankenstein begins to tell his story to Wa lton, who frames the narrative through transcriptions to his sister. As Frankenstein recounts his childhood to Walton, his second doubling relationship takes shape. Frankenstein and his adopted sister Elizabeth are inseparable in what is described as a ple asant childhood. Elizabeth's presence is unique in this novel in that the plot is mostly male centered, and some feminist theorists have built on her presence to discuss erotic bonds between
women (see Michel). Other feminist readings see Elizabeth as an i mproved version of Frankenstein himself. Shelley convinces us that Elizabeth and Frankenstein are destined to be together, even though there is a great "dissimilitude" in their characters (Shelley 66). Frankenstein's mother cements their destinies while they are children: "These indications, and a desire to bind as closely as possible the ties of domestic love, determined my mother to consider Elizabeth as my future wife; a design which she never found reason to repent" (Shelley 65). One can't help remain ing skeptical, as Frankenstein's attention becomes further engrossed in the true object of his desire, his own creation. In recounting his childhood, Frankenstein also identifies Clerval, his childhood playmate and lifelong confidante, one without whom he was "never completely happy" (Shelley 67). Clerval rescues Frankenstein multiple times: he nurses him back to health when he falls ill after the creature awakens, and takes him on a tour through the countryside during an extreme bout of depression. Queer readings of Frankenstein frequently read Clerval as best friend/confidant/lover, and we see strong homosocial bonding between the two of them with Victor the student of physical sciences and Clerval the student of literature. However, even his relationship with Clerval pales in comparison to the dominant doppelgnger relationship in the novel. Freud's essay on the uncanny sheds some light on Frankenstein's obsession with his creature: "Biology has not yet been able to decide whether death is the inevitable fate of every living being or whether it is only a regular but yet perhaps avoidable event in life" (Freud 13). When Frankenstein learns how to bestow life on lifeless matter in univ ersity, he hesitates concerning the manner in which to employ his newfoun d knowledge: "I doubted at first whether
I should attempt the creation of a being like myself or one of similar organization; but my imagination was too much exalted by my first success to permit me to doubt of my ability to give life to an animal as compl ex and wonderful as man" (Shelley 81). He derives pleasure and excitement from brainstorming about what form the creature should take. Driven by an unnamable urge that he cannot fully describe, Frankenstein seeks to create a likeness to himself. His extre me revulsion and attraction to the creature, once created, is described with great emotion. The mere act of thinking about the creature sends him into fits of hysterics, in which he questions the banality of his own life. Freud would characterize this as a recurrent, morbid anxiety," a sensation that characters in Gothic novels experience when they are confronted with the queer. Frankenstein has an obsessive compulsion to produce something that disgusts him, and he tries to articulate this to sensation to Walton: "My limbs now tremble, and my eyes swim with the remembrance; but then, an almost frantic impulse, urged me forward; I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit" (Shelley 82). This "frantic impulse" and "loss of soul or se nsation" describes Frankenstein's trancelike state as he works, reminiscent of Edgar's sleepwalking. Developing a morbid fascination with all things bodily, he collects bones from charnel houses "and disturb[s], with profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frame" (Shelley 82). It is through this intense closeness with human bodies that we see queerness beginning to be embodied in the creator and created. Developing a lifestyle of fixated solitude, Frankenstein is physically drawn to his work in a carnal, almost erotic way: "often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupation, whilst, still urged on by an eagerness which perpetually increased, I brought my work near to a conclusion" (Shelley 82).
We see this morbid anxiety hit its pe ak with the completion of the creature. He describes an emotional magnetism towards what he has created: How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch among whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavored to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set, his shriveled complexion, and straight black lips. (Shelley 85) Frankenstein points to the pa radox that is the creature the beauty of creating life from lifeless matter and the horror that is embodied death. "I had desired it with an ardor that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart" (Shelley 85). Despite his horror, he can't help but describe the "beautiful" characteristics of his creature's body: the "lustrous black" hair, the "pearly white" teeth, the "straight black lips," etc. (Shelley 85). Jud ith Halberstam makes a case that the reader can only imagine the dreadful spectacle of the creature, and so its monstrosity is limited only by the reader's imagination (Halberstam 12). Since we as readers cannot fully see the creature, our perception of h im is informed by Frankenstein's description of him as initially "beautiful." Halberstam explains that Frankenstein's creature makes strange the categories of beauty, humanity, and identity that we cling to (Halbersta m 4 5). While on the one hand Frankenst ein covets the features that he has given the creature, he cannot bear to witness the creature's awakening and retreats to his bedchamber. When Frankenstein dreams about embracing Elizabeth, who turns into a corpse in his arms, he awakens to find the creat ure standing above him. The object of his affection and the object of his toil here become blurred:
I started from my sleep with horror; a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed; when, by the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way through the window shutters, I beheld the wretch the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he muttered s ome inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped, and rushed down the stairs. (Shelley 86) From the minute the creature pulls across the curtains aside that cover Frankenstein's bed, he is forever separated from his human relatives in a way for which he cannot account. He is born into a queer world that Frankenstein himself created. Meanwhile the creature as a deviant body is trying to com e to terms with his newly acquired consciousness of his surroundings. He grapples with the idea of having no one else in the world in his likeness. He recalls to Frankenstein: "My person was hideous and my stature gigantic: what did this mean? Who was I? W hence did I come?" (Shelley 153). Following Halberstam, we can call this a "category crisis" rather than an "identity crisis (Halberstam 6), for the creature does not yet have an identity. His hideousness and gigantic stature force him to seek seclusion in the forest, where he observes an exiled family living out their life. Here is where he learns language and human interaction skills. The monster reads Paradise Lost, Plutarch's Lives, and Sorrows of Werter in the woods and develops an intellectual base. H is first days of existen ce are marked by a lack of self awareness, and it is not until he looks into a pool of water that he is able to gaze at his hideous aspect: I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers their grace, beauty, and delicate complexi ons: but how was I terrified, when I viewed myself in a transparent pool! At first I started back, unable to believe that it was indeed I who was reflected in the mirror; and when I became fully convinced that I was in reality the monster
that I am, I was filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification. Alas! I did not yet entirely know the fatal effects of this miserable deformity. (Shelley 139) His distinct knowledge of his own difference is described in what he recounts to Franken stein. While he cannot articulate how exactly he would be able to fit into a human family structure, he has an instinct that his body is composed of somethin g like human flesh; that his body was once fully human, in another form with perhaps a different br ain structure. His awareness of his body as something "created" rather than "born" exacerbates his sense of queerness. The creature makes it clear to Frankenstein that he is malicious because he is miserable and lonely. "Like Adam, I was created apparentl y united by no link to any other being in existence Cursed my creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God in pity made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid from its very resemblance" (Shelley 155). By creating a "filthy type" of his own body, Frankenstein exerts control over their queer relationship. Curing the creature's monstrousness, or making him look more normatively human, goes against Frank enstein's interest because it would give the creature access to society and jeopardize the current power dynamic. The creature can only demand Frankenstein's attention by seeking to ensure that Frankenstein is as isolated and miserable as the creature th at the creature become the only k in that Frankenstein has. It is the creature's threat to reproduce, to perhaps form his own society of queer humanoid creatures, that make Frankenstein feel extremely isolated and "left out." Halberstam notes: "It is indeed necessary to map out a relation between the monstrous sexuality of the foreigner and the foreign sexuality of the monster because sexuality is itself a beast created in nineteenth century literature" (Halberstam 6 7). Creating a mate for the creature
thre atens Frankenstein's virility because it complicates their relationship: he's being replaced and losing his exclusive dominance. Frankenstein grapples with the ethical complications of creating a mate for the creature, but a close reading of the text reveals the manner in which his concerns are self serving: As I sat, a train of reflection occurred to me, which led me to consider t he effects of what I was now doing. Three years before I was engaged in the same manner, and had created a fiend whose unparalleled barbarity has desolated my heart, and filled it forever with the bitterest remorse. I was now about to form another being, o f whose dispositions I was alike ignorant; she might become ten thousand times more malignant than her mate, and delight, for its own sake, in murder and wretchedness. He has sworn to quit the neighborhood of man, and hide himself in deserts; but she had n ot; and she, who in all probability was to become a thinking and reasoning animal, might refuse to comply with the compact made before her creation. They might even hate each other; the creature who already lived loathed its own deformity, and might he not conceive a greater abhorrence for it when it came before his eyes in the female form? She also might turn with disgust from him to the superior beauty of man; she might quit him, and he be again alone, exasperated by the fresh provocation of being deserte d by one of his own species. (Shelley 190) Up until this point in the novel, it is unclear whether the creature even has a gender or sexuality. I seriously considered using gender neutral pronouns to describe the creature in this thesis, in light of criti cal interpretations of the creature as transgender 9 However, when the creature forces Frankenstein into creating a mate for him, the reader is simultaneously threatened by the creature's emerging sexuality, his threat to reproduce and the creature's impos ition of binary sexuality into the queer dynamics of the novel. Frankenstein is duly afraid that the creature will reproduce, and that he will lose the creature as a mirrored version of himself and an object of obsession. As a sexual being, Frankenstein's creature is foreign and an outsider to the !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! % See Hausman and Halberstam.
community, and his sexual fecundity threatens miscegenation. This problem c ollapses both the fraught queer relationship between Frankenstein and the creature and the creature's desire to father a family. I focus o n both because it highlights the intense uncertainty and confusion: the threat of both withdrawing from his intense dependence on Frankenstein and his desire to father his own nation are sexual threats but also political, familial, and even speciesist. Wh en the creature expresses pleasure in seeing Frankenstein hard at work creating a mate, Frankenstein destroys it. The extreme emotion Frankenstein experiences from witnessing pleasure on the creature's face is akin to jealousy: I trembled, and my heart fai led within me; when, on looking up, I saw, by the light of the moon, the daemon at the casement. A ghastly grin wrinkled his lips as he gazed on me, where I sat fulfilling the task which he had allotted to me. Yes, he had followed me in my travels; he had loitered in forests, hid himself in caves, or taken refuge in wide and deserted heaths; and he now came to mark my progress, and claim the fulfillment of my promise As I looked on him, his countenance expressed the utmost extent of malice and treachery. I thought with a sensation of madness on my promise of creating another like to him, and, trembling with passion, tore to pieces the thing on which I was engaged. The wretch saw me destroy the creature on whose future existence he depended for happiness, an d, with a howl of devilish despair an d revenge, withdrew. (Shelley 191) Frankenstein makes the point here that the creature followed him throughout his travels not to follow him but to follow his progress in creating a mate. In that instant, Frankenstein comes to terms with what creating another creature would mean for him and this drives him to destroy it. Here we are confronted with the crisis of meaning again, in that the creature's emerging sexuality provides a tangible link between himself and his o ppressor. This disconnected sense of belonging to a group that oppresses h im is what ultimately drives the creature to kill Frankenstein's loved ones.
Frankenstein blames himself for unleashing a sexual being into the world, subsequently revealing his own queer desires. However, the way in which the two characters mirror each other's queerness complicates queer action. It calls into question origins, the organization of bodies into structures that would portray queerness, attraction, and language barriers. When Frankenstein and his creature discuss their further options, they cannot reach agreement because they are not experiencing queering in the same way. Frankenstein, who has a history and a corporal body, is experiencing queerness that is repressed and never fully realized until the creature is born, a physical representation of his own repressed queerness. Born without any other frame of existence, the creature becomes a part of Frankenstein's own queer meaning. If the creature is a warped image of Fran kenstein's queerness, the n the creature's queerness is deriving from the Frankenstein. This "queer mirroring" makes them doppelgngers. The erotic energy of queer Gothic recognition is well expressed in Frankenstein's climactic recognition of the creature during their final pursuit over the Arctic ice: "Iuttered a wild cry of ecstasy which I distinguished a sledge, and the distorted proportions of a well known form within. Oh! With what a burning gush did hope revisit my heart" (Shelley 200). The creature also disrupts Walton's journey. The "strange sight" of this unnameable unknown moving across the Arctic ice arrests his attention, excites his "unqualified wonder" (Shelley 23), and throws into doubt all his preconceptions about what is natural, normal an d possible. The creature's appearance is undoubtedly queer in that it is strange, but the queerness of his effect deepens through his capacity to cause a disruption to narrative equilibrium and set in motion a questioning of the status quo. The narrative d epends upon an illusion of disrupted progress as readers are encouraged to feel that they, too, are about to take an alternative journey into thrilling and frightening realms of experience (see Rigby).
Frankenstein can be situated in relation to other nin eteenth century Gothic texts featuring moments where characters are powerfully affected by an indefinable, frightening sense of recognition. Thinking back to Sedgwick, we remember that the language of sexual deviance has long been linked to the language of recognition, for, in a world in which certain desires have been coded unspeakable' (Sedgwick 21), reading queerness has become largely a question of recognizing signs and codes. Uncanny, potentially erotic, overwhelming and paranoia inducing, one consist ent quality of the condition I would like to call queer Gothic recognition' is a sense of enthrallment to a more powerful, more knowing figure, one who wields an inexplicable and dangerous power to arrest and dominate (see Rigby for further discussion).
CHAPTER 2: The Queerness of Uncanny Addiction in The Monk and Zofloya Gothic novels are addictive; they are so hard to put down that we continue to read them several hundred years after they were written. All Gothic novels are uncanny; compulsively repeating themes such as incest, rape, and tyrannical father figures they r eproduce similar plot lines. If these novels are so similar, why are they so addictive? If we already know what is going to happen, why do we keep reading them? This chapter argues for a connection between queering and addiction. If Gothic literature cont ains the coding for an illicit wish a wish for something far too unsettling to recognize outright this titillates readers' interest in reading about disallowed desires. The most disturbing images in Gothic novels tend to stick with the reader whether it is the animation of a hideous monster, the ravishing of a young virgin, or a maggot infested infant in the arms of an emaciated mother. These scenes refuse to leave our minds for days, even years after we read them. Despite these grotesque images, fans of Gothic literature continue reading, and things that readers find terribly revolting they also find terribly attractive. We want to read about these revolting things, and Gothic writers simultaneously capitalize on this and fulfill their desire to write about disturbing things. As a result, Gothic writers are addicted to telling these stories and readers are addicted to reading them. Readers seek the queer that which refuses the conventional in these books and become addicted to that investigation in the process. "Queering" as an action of writing and reading, is addictive. Two Gothic novels, Matthew Gregory Lewis's famous The Monk (1795) and Charlotte Dacre's less studied Zofloya; or, The Moor (1806), give an intimate sense of what succumbing to suc h temptation is like. Victoria in Zofloya and Ambrosio in The Monk both become addicted to
sex in some form, and both of them embody a sense of erotic mania as they grapple with the reality of their queer bodies' desires. Long before horror was a recogniza ble genre, texts used horrifying images to warn the faithful. One example is Dante's Inferno in which the fates of famous historical figures are detailed in the elaborate travelogue of hell. If people couldn't be convinced to do good in order to achieve t he reward of heaven, Dante thought they could perhaps be frightened into avoiding evil by vivid descriptions of rivers of fire, painful torture and unbearable punishments, each tailored specifically to the selected sin. Some analyses read Gothic novels as didactic, educating against vice. In Horrifying Sex: Essays on Sexual Difference in Gothic Literature (2007), Ruth Bienstock Anolik argues that there has long been a conservative thrust to horror narratives, which tend to impose and reinforce social norms. Critics from Freud onward have recognized the pattern: something uncanny, which threatens normal social conventions, must be destroyed to restore order. Beinstock Anolik argues that "we can recognize the codification even fossilization of that conserv ative message in modern horror texts" (248 249). However, I argue that these texts do more than deliver a conservative message of fear and propriety. Gothic novels queer us as we read, making us participants in things we might ordinarily reject. These wo rks continuing popularity points to readers' desire to read about the improper. Even if it was not the author's intentions, there is something attractive and compulsively intriguing about these extreme displays of the abnormal, the unconventional, the sin ful, the revolting. We want to look and in fact, we want to be frightened. The previous chapter discussed how repetition compulsions involve the "involuntary return to the same situation," whether that is a familial unrest, incestuous tendencies, or an infatuation with a person. Based upon instinctual activity and probably inherent in the very
nature of the instincts, whatever reminds us of this inner repetition compulsion is perceived as uncanny (Freud 11). Freud argued that the uncanny is something rep ressed which recurs and the queerness in these books is as addictive as it is recurrent. We can't stop reading or telling these stories because they reenact scenarios we have disavowed, and in that retelling we too are tainted and queered. When we think of addiction as repetitive as being confronted with the same problem over and over again it helps us uncover the uncanny nature of addiction. Addiction is a condition that results when a person engages in an activity that can be pleasurable, but that w hen continued becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities. While in modern medicine it is argued that addiction has nothing to do with one's morality or strength of character, Gothic novelists would disagree. In Gothic fictions, w hat I'm calling addictions cause a character's behavior to deviate from the norm obsessively and sometimes subversively. In the analysis that follows, we will see how a queered character, one that is uncanny and unsettling both horrifying and oddly familiar can disrupt and capture another character's narrative of addiction. We see in Zofloya and The Monk an uncanny that is in reality nothing new or foreign, but something familiar and old something "established in the mind that has been estranged only by the process of repression" (Freud 11). The Monk Ambrosio, the titular monk in Matthew Gregory Lewis's The Monk (1795) swiftly falls into addictive behavior on the account of a complicated collection of temptations. Lucifer, designing to obtain Ambrosio's soul, sends one of his favorite demons embodied as the mistress "Matilda" to do his bidding. Matilda disguises hersel f as the novice "Rosario" in order to enter
the monastery and capture Ambrosio's heart. Wholly unable to maintain his pious public appearance, Ambrosio violates his vows of celibacy beginning with his infatuation with the novice Rosario, leading directly i nto fornication with Matilda, and culminating with rape incest with h is sister Antonia I argue that the tripartite character of The Demon/Matilda/Rosario, like a set of Russian nesting dolls, is so effective in facilitating Ambrosio's addictions and his s ubsequent downfall because it contains so many interlocking identities and possibilities. The Demon, Matilda, and Rosario form a conjunction of gender, sex, and celestial difference. Ambrosio's queer sexual compulsions begin with same sex desire and are fu rther exposed through his addiction to virginity. The object of Ambrosio's affection is endlessly changing, from the image of the Madonna he worships in his cell, to Rosario as a novice, to Matilda when she reveals herself, and finally to Antonia who appea rs untouched and unattainable. The cyclicality of his changing object of desire reveals what it means to be stuck in a chain of uncanny addictions. Matilda, Rosario, and Antonia present Ambrosio with temptations that he does not have the language to artic ulate. In this crisis of language, he grapples with the idea of what "pleasure" means and where it is supposed to come from. While monastic life has taught him that pleasure is only supposed to derive from prayer, Ambrosio discovers hidden knowledges and r epressed yearnings, illustrating that he knows despite himself that there is more to pleasure than what lies in the convent. However, it is because he knows what is forbidden that he can uncover or even be tempted into illicit desires. Thus, it is his supp osed purity that leaves him open to vice. This largely stems from the old joke that books warning against sins of the flesh are the perfect place to learn about illicit sexuality.
At the beginning of the novel, Ambrosio's erotic obsession with the Madonna is particularly illustrative of his repressed desires. Ambrosio is encouraged to pray to the Madonna repetitively thus developing a kind of addiction to her image. Since her image is the only visual model of femininity in his life, she serves as his onl y mode of sexual release. The image of the Virgin that leads him into illicit desires is anti Catholic, given that Protestants believed Catholics were idol worshippers because they venerated images of the Virgin and of Christ. Ambrosio is completely ignora nt about women and is a virgin himself, having been brought up from an infant in the monastery and dedicated at an early age. In the words of Antonia's aunt, Leonella: "he is reported to be so strict an observer of chastity, that he knows not in what consi sts the difference of man and woman" (Lewis 47). Leonella is pointing out that Ambrosio is not only sexually ignorant, but even gender/sex ignorant. This navety complicates his gender and sexuality to the point where his lack of knowledge is dangerous and unsettling. Despite Leonella's claim, our narrator assures us that Ambrosio is "naturally" sexual: He never saw, much less conversed with the other sex: he was ignorant of the pleasures in women's power to bestow; and if he read in the course of his studi es "That men were fond, he smiled, and wondered how." For a time spare diet, frequent watching, and severe penance cooled and repressed the natural warmth of his constitution: but no sooner did opportunity present itself, no sooner did he catch a glimpse o f joys to which he was still a stranger, than religion's barriers were too feeble to resist the overwhelming torrent of his desires. All impediments yielded before the force of his temperament, warm, sanguine, and voluptuous in the excess. As yet his other passions lay dormant; but they only needed to be once awakened, to display themselves with violence as great and irresistible. (Lewis 215) The narrator assures us that Ambrosio's sexual passions are not lacking but simply repressed by a variety of method s, with the potential to explode at the slightest provocation. Ambrosio is self destructive and volatile. The quote from Measure for Measure is particularly revealing: l ike
Shakespeare's "pure" Lord Angelo who becomes the lascivious judge who bargains with a nun for sexual pleasures so she can save her brother, Ambrosio is easily seduced at the first opportunity. Lack of knowledge is the source of a lack of desire in the preceding passage, but it takes very little knowledge to lead Ambrosio into excessive i ndulgence in sexual pleasures. Ambrosio's pre sexual identity is imbued with confusion and apprehension. The narrator describes Ambrosio as not masculine; and as the novel progresses, Ambrosio's failures of masculinity are contrasted with the female mascu linity of Rosario/Matilda: It was by no means his nature to be timid: but his education had impressed his mind with fear so strongly, that apprehension was now become part of his character. Had his youth been passed in the world, he would have shown himsel f possessed of many brilliant and manly qualities. (Lewis 213) Here "manly qualities" include a certain fearlessness, a lack of timidity that the narrator implies Ambrosio's monkish education has denied to him. Put more succinctly, Catholic fear has made Ambrosio a coward. He is unmanly because religious fear has "unm anned" him. Lewis is playing with the idea of nature versus nurture suggesting that if Ambrosio hadn't been brought up in the convent, he would have developed more "manly" qualities; this seems ironic, given that he has been raised in fact by men and bee n constantly in the presence of men. This quote sets up a dichotomy between the outside world as a zone for patriarchal masculinity and the convent as a place for "timid" and "apprehensive" masculinity. Religion is intended to protect Ambrosio from tempta tion, but by substituting the pleasure of prayer and the providing a beautiful image of the Madonna, it leads him on; by teaching him fear as the only tool to constrain his passions, it leaves him both fearful and unmanly; by teaching him repetitive behavi or and self pride in his own innate virtue, religion leaves him vulnerable to temptation and prone to addiction. In the midst of this, Ambrosio
repeatedly convinces himself that he is righteous, even in the face of his heinous acts. As John Berryman pointe d out in 1952 in what is still one of the most perceptive accounts of the novel, "It is surprising, after how long it takes how difficult it is to be certain of damnation (Berryman cited in Macdonald and Scherf 13 )." Berryman explains further that each of the steps in Ambrosio's career of crime from breaking his monastic vows, to rape, murder, and black magic is duly weighed beforehand and duly regretted afterwards, but his regrets never quite prevent him from going on to his next, greater offense ( Macdonald and Scherf 11) In analyzing the gender sex relations in this novel, it is useful to return to Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's triangular model from Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire. Sedgwick illustrates how women are traded and exchanged between men in British literature, including Gothic literature. The top of the triangle is a female character, which in T he Monk is usually a virginal, interchangeable placeholder. The base of the triangle consists of two men affirming their bon d through the exchange or through intense competition over her. The Monk doesn't follow Sedgwick's triangular model precisely. The main triangle that this chapter is interested in consists of Antonia at the top of the triangle, with Ambrosio and Rosario/Ma tilda at the base of the triangle. Sedgwick's argument is that the bottom of the triangle isn't necessarily queer it's a relationship between men that is, between two figures of the dominant masculinist homosocial world. The homosocial isn't necessarily queer or even homoerotic at all it can be simply the norm. However, what I find queer in this triangle is that Rosario/Matilda's gender is indete rminate neither solely male n or female, human or demon, but constantly in flux 10 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "& I grappled for months with how to classify Rosario and Matilda's gender, for I believe that this novel is intentionally skeptical about their gender/s and individual core self. My personal commitment to the concept of gender queer identity and my experience as a rad ical queer activist had a lot to do with my decision making process. In this thesis, I refer to Rosario and Matilda with masculine and feminine pronouns respectively, but there is an interstitial space, in the instance of Rosario rev ealing
In discussing Ambrosio's addictions, it is appropriate to start with the double character of Rosario and Matilda, for this character is the focus of Ambrosio's addiction and h ighlights the indeterminacy of queer gender characterization in the novel. Matilda's infiltration of the monastery, where she temporarily camps out (and camps it up) to tempt Ambrosio, is queer in the act of appropriating certain gender characteristics to unsettle the patriarchal order. Matilda's gender indeterminacy and playful manipulation of gender expression and Ambrosio's perception of him/her as Rosario and then also Matilda are the keys to unlocking the queer vault that is this novel (Fincher 87). T o summarize after it is explained to the reader how Ambrosio came to be Madrid's most well renown abbot, we witness him with his diminutive and devoted novice, Rosario. The first description of Rosario emphasizes that there is "mystery" surrounding him. The amorphous, shapeless effect of the cowl he wears makes his gender ambiguous for Ambrosio, who has no reason to suppose that Rosario is "female." Moreover, Rosario is characterized as effeminate in his taste for flower arranging in Ambrosio's cell and i n his subservient role, but his personality and behavior are confusing for Ambrosio. Rosario's actions and melancholia suggest an effeminacy that Ambrosio finds intriguing and attractive without being able to explain why (as Fincher also explores). His tim idity and particularly his reluctance to participate in the activities !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! himself as Matil da, that I chose to refer to "Rosario/Matilda" by gender neutral pronouns specifically, "they, them, their" pronouns. I chose to do this because Lewis is inconsistent with his pronoun use in this scene, revealing the gender fluid nature of this character Since these two characters are the same person, and this person is not clearly male or clearly female, I initially chose to use gender neutral pronouns to refer to Rosario/Matilda in the entire thesis. Through much consideration, I realized that it is mo re illuminating to view Rosario and Matilda as separate genders, because it seems to me that it matters whether it is Rosario or Matlida and the story allows one to linger as a kind of trace to the other. Matilda always carries with her some of Rosario's identity, and Rosario is changed by becoming Matilda, and all of them are impacted by the late revelation of their non humanness. It is also slippery terrain to refer to an eighteenth century character with twenty first century vocabulary; however, what w e bring to the text contributes to our understanding. The first time I read this book, I couldn't help seeing Rosario/Matilda as genderqueer. However, I do believe that Lewis separates the two of them for a reason, in that both characters do different work Both of them are titillating a different addiction in Ambrosio, and their gender change is deliberate because their gender fluidity is what is so enticing for Ambrosio. In this way, Rosario/Matilda can't be gender neutral, because it is the presenc e of b oth genders that makes them addictive. Instead of gender neutral, this character is multi gendered
of the monastery set him apart as different: "The Youth had carefully avoided the company of the Monks" (Lewis 42). Their relationship is one of mutual attraction: "Ambrosio on his sid e did not feel less attracted towards the Youth," even though Lewis qualifies this by saying "he loved him with all the affection of a Father," he continues to write that Ambrosio "could not help sometimes indulging a desire secretly to see the face of his Pupil" (Lewis 42 43). In addition, Rosario's name is gender ambiguous, at least in English. As Steven Blakemore points out: "Even the endings of both names (Rosario Ambrosio) suggestively links them together in scenes that are homoerotic (Blakemore cited in Fincher 88). This adds a doppelganger aspect to their relationship, with Rosario as the lonely boy Ambrosio used to be, but also mentor and pupil, initiator/initiated. These early scenes are mildly homoerotic, but they are also queer in that they can b e read to contain a surplus of desire and emotion between men that cannot be adequately explained by the narrative framework of their relationship as father and son, teacher and pupil (Fincher 88 89). One way to conceptualize Rosario and Ambrosio's relatio nship is as incestuous. In "Love in a convent': or, Gothic and the Perverse Father of Queer Enjoyment," Dale Townshend observes that various forms of illicit sexual desires are often conflated in Gothic literature, for instance, incest with homoerotic desi re. Ambrosio's initial attraction to Rosario/Matilda, as well as the consummation of their liaison, reads as incestuous, particularly given that their relationship is defined by, and suspended within, the range of familial relationships sister, son, fath er, mother and so on set in place by the practices of the Catholic Church (Townshend 27). So the language of Catholicism is one of familial relations, and it raises the possibility of incest in addition to the possibility of male male sexual acts and als o illicit heterosexual sex between a monk with a vow
of chastity and a young woman who has entered the monastery in disguise. The important point here is that all of these relationships are fundamentally illicit none are permitted and all break vows, rules and are sinful in this context. When Rosario "comes out 11 as a woman, his gender isn't made any more clear initially. Lewis's irregular use of gender pronouns, and Ambrosio's behavior post Rosario's disclosure, indicate this unsettling moment. Rosario c onfides his loneliness to Ambrosio in the garden, sobbing as he speaks: The friar was affected. He took Rosario's hand, and pressed it with tenderness. "You have no friend, say you? What then am I? Why will you not confide in me, and what can you fear? My severity? Have I ever used it with you? The dignity of my habit? Rosario, lay aside the monk, and bid you consider me as no other than your friend, your father. Well may I assume that title, for never did parent watch over a child more fondly than I have w atched over you. From the moment in which I first beheld you, I perceived sensations in my bosom till then unknown to me; I found a delight in your society which no one else's could afford; and when I witnessed the extent of your genius and information, I rejoiced as does a father in the perfections of his son. Then lay aside you fears; speak to me with openness: speak to me, Rosario, and say that you will confide in me. If my aid or my pit y can alleviate your distress. (Lewis 78 79) The term "friend" is slippery here and carries numerous interpretive possibilities. It gestures toward the Greek model of an older man initiating the younger, teaching him how to become a man (including sexual activity), with the idea that the younger will someday become the senior in a similar relationship. Ambrosio fills the role of both "father" and "friend." This manner of arranging an erotic and emotional relationship is based on age/maturity rather than sex/gender. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "" "Coming out" is a speech act with a specific history. I am using it to refer to someone's disclosure of their gender or sexua l identity. While it can be p roblematic to use twenty first century vocabulary to describe an eighteenth century character, I think that this scene is surprisingly congruent to contemporary representations of what "coming out" is physically, emotionally, an d intellectually like.
Ambrosio also describes his affecti on for Rosario as something beyond words, that he has experienced "sensations till then unknown" to him (Lewis 79). Here we see this crisis of language again as Ambrosio struggles to articulate his regard for Ambrosio. Rosario continues: "Hold!" interrupt ed the novice. "Swear, that whatever be my secret, you will not oblige me to quit the monastery till me noviciate shall expire." "I promise it faithfully; and as I keep my vows to you, may Christ keep his to mankind! Now then explain this mystery, and rely upon my indulgence." "I obey you. Know then Oh! How I tremble to name the word! Listen to me with pity, revered Ambrosio! Call up every latent spark of human weakness that may teach you compassion for mine! Father!" continued he, throwing himself as the friar's feet, and pressing his hand to his lips with eagerness, while agitation for a moment choaked his voice; "father!" continued he in faltering accents, "I am a woman!" (Lewis 79) The pronoun changes, or lack of them, are confusing for the reader. In this oxymoronic statement, Lewis writes that he exclaims "I am a woman ." This is the instance in which Rosario/Matilda's gender is indeterminate for several sentences. Despite the fact that Rosario has just come out as feminine, Lewis doesn't switch to fe minine pronouns immediately: The abbot started at this unexpected avowal. Prostrate on the ground lay the feigned Rosario, as if waiting in silence the decision of his judge. Astonishment on the one part, apprehension on the other, for some minutes chained them in the same attitudes, as they had been touched by the rod of the same magician. At length recovering from his confusion, the monk quitted the grotto, and sped with precipitation towards the abbey. His action did not escape the suppliant. She sprang from the ground; she hastened to follow him, overtook him, threw herself in his passage, and embraced his knees. Ambrosio strove in vain to disengage himself from her grasp. (Lewis 79) (Emphasis added) Despite Rosario's disclosure of himself as feminine, he is persistently named by the other monks and usually by Ambrosio in and through the masculine pronoun. Because of the emphasis on unspeakability and "unaccountable behavior" in this scene, a reader al ert to queer possibilities
might well anticipate that Rosario's disclosure will include a declaration of erotic love for Ambrosio. However, Rosario's silence is predicated on the fear of Ambrosio's potential disgust and hatred. While one could argue that an erasure of same sex desire occurs when Rosario's gender changes and "he" reveals himself to be "really" Matilda, the traces of this initial suspicion of attraction still linger in the reader's memory. While the plot presses forward in time, the material ity of the book ensures that Rosario remains, even as Matilda is added, and the reader cannot erase Rosario entirel y. 12 Later, the narrator implies that Ambrosio resists acknowledging his desire for Rosario even as Matilda reveals that "she" is a woman: St ill less did He perceive that his heart throbbed with desire, while his hand was pressed gently by Matilda's ivory fingers" (Lewis 62). The "ivory fingers," which sound like the Virgin Mary "tower of ivory" for purity here ironically the "pure" ivory finge rs spawn lust, not piety. Ambrosio asks Matilda to leave the convent because he recognizes that his love for her can now be acted upon sexually, bringing up repressed desires within Ambrosio that he knows he cannot resist. However, after Matilda saves Ambr osio's life by sucking venom out of his snakebite, putting her own life in apparent danger from the poison she has drunk, he has a change of heart. Matilda tells Ambrosio (through her disguise as Rosario) that she will die because he cannot, although she h as a miraculous remedy she would use, if he would allow her to remain in disguise. In the following exchange between the ailing Matilda and the nurturing Monk, Ambrosio implores one whom he at this point "knows" to be a woman: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "# The re is something uncanny about transgender identities the new self must co exist with a memory of past selves and past identities. Transgender identity also involves an uncanny relationship with the body parts of the body change while others do not, but the changed body is both marked imaginatively by traces of the original lived body and a sign of the new identity and experience. While I'm not arguing that Rosario and Matilda are transgender, for I think their gender morphing capabilities are largely exe cuted through Lucifer's supernatural powers, I think it is useful to at least consider this as a possibility.
Then live, for me, Matilda, f or me and gratitude!' [He caught her hand, and pressed it rapturously to his lips.] Remember our late conversations; I now consent to everything; Remember in what lively colours you described the union of soul; Be it ours to realize those ideas. Let us forget the distinctions of sex, despise the world's prejudices, and only consider each other as Brother and Friend. Live then, Matilda! Oh! Live for me! Ambrosio's invoking of brotherly affection imagined as a "union of soul" that excludes one of the b ody at this point does nothing to eradicate from their relationship the pulses of urgent erotic attraction. On the contrary, the monk's sexual desire for Matilda only increases once the symbolic brotherly relations between them have been solidified. Paradoxically, and much to Ambrosio's discomfort, Matilda's masculinity appears to increase exponentially following her disclosure of her "female" identity. Moments after revealing herself, Matilda is already speaking to Ambrosio in a commanding tone: "Do not fly me!" she cried. "Leave me not abandoned to the impulse of despair!" (Lewis 80). The transformation of Rosario, the meek novice, into Matilda, the passionate mistress, leads to a kind of "female masculinity," as Matilda comes to dominate Ambrosio in multiple ways. The concept of female masculinity I use here comes from Judith Halberstam's 1998 book of the same title, in which Halberstam explores what masculinity without men would look like. Halberstam claims that far from being an imitation of malene ss, female masculinity is its own identity, and that it helps us to understand how masculinity is constructed as masculinity. Halberstam argues that rather than simply being not masculine, "female masculinities are framed as rejected scraps of dominant mas culinity in order that male masculinity may appear to be the real thing" (Halberstam 1). Thus, female masculinity is a kind of abjected version of masculinity, one that as abject supports the coherence and dominance of conventional masculinity as exclusive ly male bodied.
Turning Halberstam's lens onto Matilda, I argue first that she suffers from "the tyranny of language a structure that fixes people and things in place artificially but securely" (Halberstam, 7). In short, this pronoun difficulty represen ts the difficulty of representing and conceptualizing a non conventional embodied masculinity. After they become lovers, Matilda increasingly takes the lead in their relations, even to recognizing that Ambrosio is tiring of her erotically, and offering to help Ambrosio gain sexual access to the innocent Antonia, whom he has only seen at a distance or in carefully supervised visits. At this point the narrator observes that Matilda: assumed a sort of courage and manliness in her manners and discourse but ill calculated to please him [Ambrosio]. She spoke no longer to insinuate, but command: He found himself unable to cope with her argument, and was unwillingly obliged to confess the superiority of her judgment. Every moment convinced him of the astonishing po wers of her mind. (Lewis 232) In the abo ve passage she is described as repeatedly "out manning" him verbally, intellectually, and physically. Matilda constructs her own particular masculinity, one that overshadows and diminishes Ambrosio's apparently conv entionally embodied masculinity. Thus, Ambrosio's increasingly sexualized version of masculinity one that moves from virginal to dominant to rapist is oddly submissive to Matilda's fluid female masculinity. Ambrosio appears in some ways most conventionally male/masculine when he plans to "take" Antonia's virginity, and he should be completely dominant and powerful at this point, but in fact his actions are directed and controlled by Matilda. After the first time they consummate their affections, Ambrosio si ts up in bed and laments giving up his vows for a "dangerous woman." The passage that follows sounds like it comes from the bed of a drug using couple Matilda incites Ambrosio's sexual yearnings and
assures him that they have shared in each other's pleas ure, and that they share in each other's guilt: To me these reproaches, Ambrosio? To me, who have sacrificed for you the world's pleasures, the luxury of wealth, the delicacy of sex, my friends, my fortune, and my fame? What have you lost which I preserved ? Have I not shared in your guilt? Have you not shared in my pleasure? Guilt, did I say? In what consists ours, unless in the opinion of an ill judging world? Let that world be ignorant of them, and our joys become divine and blameless! Unnatural were your vows of celibacy; man was not created for such a state: and were love a crime, God never would have made it so sweet, so irresistible! (Lewis 204) The key in this passage lies in the exclamation: "Have I not shared in your guilt? Have you not shared in m y pleasure?" (Lewis 204). In the italics that Lewis includes, Matilda meshes her identity with Ambrosio so that they become one sexual being. What is so queer about Matilda and Ambrosio's sexual relationship is that it surpasses labels. Rosario is not jus t a gay boy, as Fincher argues, but also a straight woman in disguise, and also an embodiment of a demon favored by Lucifer. In a way, outing Rosario and Ambrosio as a gay couple makes them less queer, for their queerness comes from the ambiguity of their relationship and the interplay of gender/sex/sexuality/domination/submission, etc. Making sexual desire visible becomes queer automatically because sex already does not belong in this world of monks and virgins. All sex is illicit in the convent, and the q ueerness of it all stems from the fear of the unknown. It's as if there is no suc h thing as "straight" sex. As readers, the Rosario/Matilda and Ambrosio relationship is addictive precisely for this reason. We can't quite figure out what sort of relationshi p it is, which makes it all the more enthralling and queer. This brings the reader back to the awkward feeling of not being able to explain a desire, the uncertainty of sex and gender.
When Matilda's femininity is no longer titillating and exotic for Ambro sio, he begins to desire a different femininity, one predicated on vulnerability, virginity, and submission. This is how Antonia displaces Ambrosio's affection for Matilda, for her femininity fits these more conventional criteria. Tiring of Matilda and the extreme sexual titillation/enhancement of boy/girl/virginal/sexually experienced, etc. he craves something and someone that he can control. Ambrosio's desire for Antonia develops out of a need for control over bodies like Rosario/Matilda. He is not enti rely free from Matilda, however, for he needs her demon powers to gain access to Antonia. While Matilda serves as Ambrosio's tool to gain access to Antonia, Ambrosio serves as a tool for Matilda to exercise erotic domination and violence on Antonia. When Ambrosio's infatuation with Antonia begins, he has already lost his virginity. Despite this, he finds the need to repeat the experience of ending his virginity, which in his eyes means taking someone else's virginity. As his object of sexual desire constan tly changes throughout the novel, he seeks to have multiple virginities, and all his sexual adventures become repetitive and thus even uncanny. He has to keep making it "the first time" for the action of the novel to move forward. In addition, Ambrosio's r elationship with Antonia's virginity and his own becomes autoerotic as he replaces his own originally virginal state with Antonia, who is finally revealed as a blood relation and thus part of himself. Male Gothic villains traditionally persecute a virginal feminine figure, and they are addicted to them because virginity comprises a prized negative knowledge. It is a state one can only know in the act of losing it that is, it is a negative state, a sta te of not being and not knowing. In fact virginity is such a negative state that it turns itself into a fiction a queer fiction for no one can be completely clean, pure, and untouched. It is queer in the fact that its location outside of sexuality, as a pre sexual state, is precisely what makes it so sexual in Ambrosio's
eyes. This also makes virgin s dangerous in the eyes of a mal e gothic villian, because virgins have not yet lost that negative knowledge. In this way, Ambrosio wants to regain a piece of himself, that prized negative knowledge that he has lost, through another virginal body. Ambrosio contrasts Antonia and Matilda, glorifying the former's virginity and condemning the latter's female masculinity as virginity's opposite: happy man, who is d estined to possess the heart of that lovely girl! [Antonia] What delicacy in her features! What elegance in her form! How enchanting was the timid innocence of her eyes! And how different from the wanton expression, the wild luxurious fire, which sparkles in Matilda's! Oh! Sweeter must one kiss be, snatched from the rosy lips of the first, than all the full and lustful favours bestowed so freely by the second. Matilda gluts me with enjoyment even to loathing, forces me to her arms, apes the harlot, and glor ies in her prostitution. Disgusting! Did she know the inexpressible charm of modesty, how irresistibly it enthralls the heart of man. (Lewis 218) In this passage, Ambrosio admires Antonia's virginal qualities, to the point of wishing to possess those qual ities himself and at the same time to "possess" them by taking Antonia sexually. Antonia's lack of knowledge is precious in Ambrosio's eyes, and he cannot "unlearn" what he has already experienced. After completing the act, he is immediately disgusted by Antonia, for she was only attractive to him when she still possessed that negative knowledge: Scarcely had he succeeded in his design, then he shuddered at himself, and the means by which it was effected. The very excess of his former eagerness to possess Antonia now contributed to inspire him with disgust; and a secret impulse made him feel how base and unmanly was the crime which he had jut committed... She, who so lately had been the object of his adoration, now raised no other sentiment in his heart tha n aversion and rage. (Lewis 321) This passage illustrates how Ambrosio is only addicted to desiring Antonia's virginity, not obtaining it. Once his object of desire is obtained, whether it is Matilda or Antonia, he is
immediately disgusted with it. He eve n expresses the urge to somehow reinstall her virginity: "He would have given worlds, had he possessed them, to have restored to her that innocence o f which h is unbridled lust had deprived her" (Lewis 323). In addition, the manner in which the female body is eroticized through the eyes of the narrator and the destructive, graphic descriptions of the successive deaths of the Abbess, Elvira, and Antonia position women as victims (Fincher 94 95). Ambrosio seeks to claim masculine domination for himself by his attacks on Antonia, but in fact, he fails, and after deflowering Antonia he seems to shrink and become cowardly. This is why he's vulnerable to imprisonment by the Spanish Inquisition, and ultimately, to temptation from Lucifer himself. For a male masculi ne character to fail to perform masculinity is to set himself up as victim just like Antonia. He further blames Antonia for all that had befallen him, claiming that if she wasn't such a beautiful virgin, none of this would have happened to him: "And whom a m I to thank for this? What seduced me into crimes, whose bare remembrance makes me shudder? Fatal witch! Was it not thy beauty? Have you not plunged my soul into infamy? Have you not made me a perjured hypocrite, a ravisher, an assasin?... you, wretched g irl! You! You!" (Lewis 322). Faulty logic aside, Ambrosio sees Antonia's prized virginity as the source of his damnation. When Matilda reenters the chamber, she tries to come up with an escape route, and Ambrosio pitifully cannot come up with anything. Bra ndishing a phallic poignard, Matilda offers to murder Antonia for Ambrosio. Enraged with disappointment when he entreats her to have compassion, she abandons him to the mob effectually castrating him. Ambrosio then murders Antonia in a vain effort to esc ape with the poignard that Matilda left behind. As we see Matilda facilitate his kidnapping and rape of Antonia, Ambrosio's masculinity is repeatedly called into question, as Matilda's "masculine" power amplifies.
Moving into the next novel in this chapte r it is important to address the difficulty of discussing queerness in Gothic novels. As we can see, not all queer expressions in Gothic literature are "progressive" in the sense of leading to greater sexual expression and sex/gender equity or identities ; in fact they are usually not. The fact that we are even able to consider a tran s* 13 r eading of Rosario/Matilda is a product of our place in history. It is disturbing to realize how erotic and violent criminal undercurrents are framed in ways to make the r eader feel safely distanced in Gothic novels. We can read about these terrible things, and in doing so we are complicit with what is going on in the novel because we keep reading past the point of comfort. Hence, the concept of addiction on the part of the reader, who seeks the sensation of horror and shock for pleasure. In a large way, this book is about the addiction to desire, for desire only works when it is not yet fulfilled. Once Ambrosio obtains Matilda, he becomes bored with her, and seeks to obtain Antonia. Once he rapes Antonia, he is disgusted with her and murders her. These women are only appealing to Ambrosio when he has not yet obtained them. Once desire is fulfilled, it doesn't work as desire any more. It is in this way that virginity is a mar ker for the transience of desire in this novel, and also curiously in Zofloya Zofloya; or, The Moor !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "' Trans* with the asterisk refers to all folks who, more or less, either do not identify with the genders assigned to them at b irth (either wholly or partially), or consider themselves members of their birth assigned genders, but who also state that their identities are strongly and consistently gender variant (that is, radically different from what is expected of a "man" or "woman"). Some peo ple who fall under these categories do not define themselves as transgender, for a span of different reasons, mostly having to do with personal preference and experience. When in doubt, ask the individual. Trans (without the asterisk) is best applied to tr ans men and trans women, while trans* is more inclusive of all non cisgender identities (see http://transwhat.org/glossary/ for further details).
Zofloya; or, The Moor (1806) is Dacre's re visioning of Lewis's The Monk and the novels contrast in meaningful ways. One major difference is that Zofloya incorporates racial disparity into its queer renderings of desire. The title character, Zofloya, is marked as black, and while masculine/male, begins as a submissive servant to the protagonist Victoria and ends as her demon master and lover. Zoflo ya's blackness, like Rosario/Matilda's gender shifting, is the marker that sets him apart as an illicit object of desire. Another difference between the two novels is that the protagonist who falls from grace is a woman, which in the world of Gothic litera ture, has entirely different moral implications than it does for Ambrosio. Victoria becomes a sexually active and voracious woman, and as an embodiment of "the dangerous female," her addiction to sex and power is even more dangerous and socially threatenin g than Ambrosio's. Halberstam's concept of female masculinity can help us understand points of the novel when Victoria literally becomes larger and more masculine as she gains power. I argue that like Ambrosio in The Monk, Victoria's desires are transient, for once a desire is fulfilled, she loses interest in her pursuit. She is addicted to the pleasure of pursuing. In addition, the repetition compulsion of familial incest creates its own type of addiction, in that Victoria is trapped in a cycle of disgrace that is directly connected to her lineage. The novel opens at the scene of Victor ia's fifteenth birthday at her luxurious home in fifteenth century Venice. Her parents, the Marchese di Loredani and Laurina di Cornari, have been married for seventeen years Laurina, "if she possessed a foible, it arose from vanity, from too great a thirst for admiration, and confidence in herself" (Dacre 39), while Marchese di Loredani is described as the "noblest, the best of human beings... admired by all" (Dacre 40). The y married "in the madness of youth" (scarcely fifteen), but their marriage was happy, not because it was true love, but because "no temptations had crossed [Laurina's] path" during that
time (Dacre 39). Our very opinionated narrator has already convinced t he reader, by the end of the first page, that this is a doomed marriage. Dacre's narrator is consistently opinionated in this way throughout the novel, especially in her heavy use of negative modifying adjectives and italics to describe our female protagon ist: "Victoria, though at the age of fifteen, beautiful and accomplished as an angel, was proud, haughty, and self sufficient of a wild, ardent, and irrepressible spirit, indifferent to reproof, careless of censure of an implacable, revengeful, and cru el nature, and bent upon gaining the ascendancy in whatever she engaged" (Dacre 40). While Victoria's life is not anywhere near as bound up in Catholicism as Ambrosio's, the reader is constantly reminded that Victoria has already stepped into the realm of vice because she shares characteristics with her mother. Dacre constructs the repetition compulsion of the generational versus individual self by aligning Victoria and her mother. After Victoria's mother is unfaithful to her husband and elopes with her lov er, the Count Ardolph, Victoria, as the daughter of a fallen woman, is tied to her mother's promiscuity. There is a theory of sexual passion running through both novels passion is aroused by lascivious example and made worse by a lack of self control or ed ucation. Just as Ambrosio is led into greater feats of lust by Matilda and lacks any ability to resist because of his monkish education, Victoria is shown a bad example and is likewise led on by her own desires and indulgence by her parents who denied her nothing. After the Marchese is fatally wounded in a duel with Ardolph, he warns Victoria while expiring on his deathbed of the dangers and responsibilities of being a powerful woman in Venetian society. His speech highlights the financial power that her f ather's death will afford her: My Victoria, correct, if thou canst, the errors of thy disposition let not, therefore, the riches thou wilt in all probability be mistress
of, render thee proud or self confident let not the independence of thy fortune rend er thee unfeeling or inaccessible; nor think that the accidental circumstances of birth and riches render it unnecessary for thee to abide by the strictest rules of virtue. Remember that in proportion to the elevation of thy rank, thy inferiors will look u p to thee, and, therefore, it becomes a moral obligation on thee, to keep a guard over thy conduct, so that no possible evil may be derived from thy example; for thou wilt be hereafter responsible for whatever vices are imitated from thee, and for whatever contamination thou mayest cause in the society of thou art a member (Dacre 51 52) To emphasize the importance of the repetition compulsion of familial sexuality, the Marchese uses the word "example" on the next page at least five times. As he breathes h is last, he orders his wife and daughter to hold hands and vow that they will undo the contamination of bad example. He orders Victoria to swear "that thou wilt forget the errors, and imitate the future virtues and example of thy mother!" (Dacre 53). Howev er, Victoria's mother's conduct does not improve lastingly after his death, and consequently, neither does Victoria's. The generational and individual self is irreversibly fused in this family. As a haughty woman who has inherited a huge sum of money, Vict oria is an extremely dangerous character in the world of Gothic, even more so than Ambrosio. Her potential is to be a powerful woman in a patriarchal society. Victoria's brother, Leonardo suffering from the paranoid Gothic and perhaps terrified of his sist er's newfound power, flees his home. The first instance in which we see an addiction to desire is not in Victoria, but in her mother's lover, Count Ardolph. Like Victoria later in the novel, the Count Ardolph only finds pleasure in the act of pursuing vir tuous married women, but once he seduces them, he is disgusted by them. Ardolph's goal: was to destroy, not the fair fame of an innocent, unsullied female not to deceive and abandon a trusting, yielding maid no, he loved to take higher and destructive aim his was the savage delight to intercept the happiness of wedded love to wean from an adoring
husband the regards of a pure and faithful wife to blast with his baleful breath the happiness of a young and rising family to seduce the best, the nob lest affections of the heart, and to glory and to exult in the wide spreading havoc he had caused. (Dacre 43) Whenever Ardolph seizes his "prize," he becomes disgusted by it: "Thus it was, that having triumphed over them, he disdained his conquest, and di sdained himself to have been attracted to them: (Dacre 43). He "despised all that he acquired," but continued the act of desiring more women (Dacre 43). Consequently, the repetition compulsion of familial sexuality does not simply pass through gender lines Ardolph's entry into the family complicates the repetition compulsions of the family, aligning Victoria with Ardolph just as much as with her mother. Dacre's novel is frequently read by scholars as falling more into the conventions of the "male" Gothic (in which graphic horror dominates and where the supernatural is treated as real) as opposed to the "female" Gothic (in which rational explanations are discovered for apparently supernatural occurrences and which leans more on psychological terror). Dacre does not subscribe to the female Gothic style, instead aligning Victoria with a male villains like Ambrosio in The Monk In her book Subjects of Slavery, Agents of Change: Women and Power in Gothic Novels and Slave Narratives, 1790 1865 Kari J. Winter dra ws a useful distinction between the genres of the male and female Gothic: [M]ale Gothic novelists from the 1790s to the 1860s lingered over horrible spectacles of sexual violence, gore, and death, locating evil in the "other" women, Catholics, Jews, and ultimately the devil. In contrast, female Gothic novelists uncovered the terror of the familiar: the routine brutality and injustice of the patriarchal family, conventional religion, and classist social structures. (Winter 21) While her description of the male Gothic accurately describes Lewis's The Monk Winters's description of the female Gothic aligns better with the writing of Anne Radcliffe and Charlotte Bront than with Dacre's novel, which refuses Winter's categorization. This may be partially due
to the fact that Charlotte Dacre's Zofloya is a dir ect response to The Monk, but Dacre's work is more violent and arguably queerer than that of her female contemporaries. Victoria is more recognizably like a male gothic villain in her tyranny, sexual activity, and portrayal of female masculinity. In so doi ng, Victoria makes visible the performative nature of masculinity and represents a heroine readers are invited to reject. After the death of her father, Laurina and Count Ardolph (at Ardolph's suggestion) force Victoria to live with a devout and oppressiv e distant female relative in order to reform Victoria' conduct. Instead of developing virtue, Victoria's desires amplify: "But desire of revenge, deep and implacable, was nurtured in her heart's core, and gave to her character and additional shade of harsh ness and ferocity: thus she became like the untameable hyaena, that confinement renders only more fierce" (Dacre 75). Adriana Cracuin's footnote mentions that the hyaena was commonly believed to be hermaphroditic, supporting the suspicion that Victoria is masculinized as her passions are provoked (75 fn. 1). Her desire to escape is what helps her survive while in confinement, and befriending a servant, she escapes by stealing the servant's clothes as a disguise. Catching a ride on a gondola after running th rough the woods for days, she reaches Venice and manages to find Berenza, a lover that Laurina and Ardolph had forbidden her to see since the death of her father. Under Berenza's care, Victoria glories in the nightlife of Venice and her female masculinity takes shape: No, hers was not the countenance of the Madonna it was not of an angelic mould; yet, though there was a fierceness in it, it was not certainly a repelling, but a beautiful fierceness dark, noble, strongly expressive, every linement bespok e the mind which animated it. True, no mild, no gentle, no endearing virtues, were depicted there... in her large dark eyes, which sparkled with incomparable radiance, you read the traces of a strong and resolute mind, capable of attempting anything undism ayed by consequences... Her figure, though above the middle height, was symmetry itself; she was as the tall and graceful antelope; her air
was dignified and commanding, yet free from stiffness; she moved along with her head erect, and with step firm and m ajestic... she became daily a more dangerous object to the peace and forbearance of Berenza. (Dacre 96) Dacre's physical description of Victoria is surprisingly similar to Lewis's physical description of Ambrosio. They are both tall, dark, and walk with a dignified, erect air. As the opposite of the "Madonna," Victoria is portrayed as the absolute unfeminine woman. A complicated backstory explains Leonardo's adventures after running away from home, but in short, he comes under the power of another dangerou s woman, Megalena Strozzi, who had a romantic history with Berenza. She is equally addicted to desiring what she cannot have, and after witnessing Berenza and Victoria together, she orders Leonardo to murder the two of them. Unaware that the woman he has b een ordered to kill is his sister, he breaks into their bedroom, and attempting to stab Berenza, Victoria grabs his arm just in time, and the knife goes into her shoulder instead. Leonardo flees in terror, and Victoria, recovers miraculously in a few days; Berenza believes she loves him truly and rewards her as his savior by offering her marriage (which he'd been reluctant to do since she was willing to become his mistress). Victoria answers: "I will... I most ardently desire to become thy wife" (Dacre's em phasis 39). This speech act turns the tables; instead of saying "I do," as one would expect, Victoria captures the agency in the act, placing emphasis on the word desire Dacre is prone to using italics heavily in the entire book, but here the italics are particularly illustrative of Victoria's addiction to the thrill of desiring. After the wedding, Berenza and Victoria retire to the countryside with two of Berenza's friends, Henriquez and his perfectly feminine and virginal fiancee, Lilla. Not surprisingly Victoria quickly begins to tire of Berenza, for she has now acquired what she had desired and been denied. The addictive nature of the pursuit weakening, she develops a passion for Henriquez, one who is already "taken."
So far Victoria has been embodied as a beautiful woman, but in enacting her desires for sexual fulfillment, domination, and choosing her own lover she begins to take on even more "masculine" characteristics. The tables are turned when she is introduced to Zofloya, Berenza's manservant, wh ile they are visiting with Henriquez and Lilla. Like Matilda, Zofloya is finally revealed as an embodiment of Lucifer. Zofloya offers to help her to win Henriquez by using his magical powers to make a poison that Victoria can slowly administer to Berenza t o kill him. However, as Victoria turns over more and more of her desires to Zofloya, relying on him to enact them or to help her to achieve them, she seems to diminish into a submissive and more feminine figure, except when acting on those more feminine/pa ssive than she, like Lilla. Victoria admits that "the manner of Zofloya was such as inspired involuntary awe," and when she is around him, she acknowledges with sensations awful and indescribable" (Dacre 158). Zofloya increasingly takes on Victoria's previ ously dominant characteristics, so that the black servant becomes increasingly powerful as the white mistress diminishes. Before formally meeting Zofloya, she dreams about him facilitating her destructive actions in her dreams. Her first dream about him is uncanny, in that we don't know if the characters is her dream are alive: Presently she beheld, approaching towards her, a group of shadowy figures; they appeared to hover in mid air, but at no great distance from the earth, and, as they came nearer, she discerned, that though of a deadly paleness, their features were beautiful and serene. These passed gradually; when, as if from the midst of them, she beheld advancing a Moor, of a noble and majestic form. He was clad in a habit of white and gold; on his h ead he wore a white turban, which sparkled with emeralds, and was surmounted by a waving feather of green; his arms and legs, which were bare, were encircled with the finest oriental pearl; he wore a collar of gold round his throat, and his ears were decor ated with gold rings of an enormous size. (Dacre 145)
By orientalizing Zofloya so heavily, Dacre "others" him in manner that makes his masculinity seem inhuman, predicated on the fact that he is different from the European men she takes as lovers. When sh e first lays eyes on him in waking life, she knows that she has seen him before but doesn't know where. Her relationship with him is uncanny, seeming a return of something familiar that she also experiences as new and unknown: "The image which, upon review presented itself most forcibly to her mental vision, was that of the Moor, whose person she had a confused idea of having seen frequently before" (Dacre 146). There is also something addictive about Zofloya himself. Victoria repeatedly describes him as "engrossing" her thoughts (Dacre 191), and when she looks into his dark eyes, he seems to put her in a mild trance when he speaks: "His eyes, brilliant and large, sparkled with inexpressible fire" (Dacre 153). Zofloya is so embedded within Victoria's addic tion to desiring that he is able to spontaneously appear when she needs him. He states: "your very thoughts have power to attract me. Such as you have just indulged would bring me to you, from the further extremity of this terrestrial globe" (Dacre 181). M ost importantly, Dacre needs Zofloya to get what she wants, which weaves a complex chain of desires that Dacre is addicted to. As Victoria becomes more and more dependent upon Zofloya, she becomes more conventionally feminine. This loss undermines her and makes her a victim rather than an actor. As Zofloya initially follows Victoria's wishes, he appears submissive: "Your fate, fair signora, will be of your own making: I am but the humble tool, the slave of your wishes; you co operation with me alone can ren der me powerful; but fly me and disdain my assistance, and despise my friendship I sink abashed into myself, and am powerless !" (Dacre 188). Zofloya is initially humble but dignified, and increasingly he becomes more dominant: "remember, poor Victoria, tha t independently of me, thou canst not even breathe!" (Dacre 221). He starts referring
to Victoria as his, because he is obtaining her soul: "Yes, yes thou wilt be mine!... to all eternity!" (Dacre 235). Zofloya becomes a dominating figure conjoining ma sculinity with blackness. Blackness becomes both inherently masculine and inherently demonic. When Berenza eventually dies from Zofloya's poison, Lilla still stands in her way of obtaining Herniquez. Victoria hates Lilla from the moment she lays on her, st aring her down with "basilisk's eyes" (Dacre 131) and fostering a hate so intense that it is almost erotic in a Gothic sense: "For the young Lilla she cherished the most unprovoked and the bitterest hate" (143). The fact that she "cherishes" that hate also illustrates how Victoria is addicted to anger. She comes up with the cruelest possible way to kill Lilla by kidnapping her, chaining her to the side of a mountain with no food or water until she wastes away. "'Why, there is certainly a pleasure,' with a fierce malignant smile, observed Victoria, in the infliction of prolonged torment; I therefore approve your arrangement'" (Dacre 205). As much as Victoria glories in her hate for Lilla, they are also doppelgangers in that they are exact opposites of each other Victoria is dark, tall, and promiscuous and Lilla is pale, diminutive, and virginal. Victoria romances Lilla even though she hates her: "Throughout the evening her conduct was such as to excite a timid gratitude and respect in the breast of her lo vely visitor, and to make her appear admirable in the eyes of the delighted Henriquez. Why were unreal, appearances that shed around such pure, expansive satisfaction? Dark and dreadful are the intricacies of the human heart, when debased, as was Victoria' s. Almost unknowing to herself, she conceived immediate hatred for the orphan Lilla, because she was dear, because she was beloved by Henriquez" (142). Once Victoria has captured Lilla and chained her to a mountain, she dresses in Lilla's clothes and using a "love potion" that Zofloya has concocted for her, she tries to romance Herniquez, who perceives her as Lilla and is successful, but only briefly. When Herniquez
awakens in his bed next to Victoria the next morning, he stabs himself. In one of Victoria 's most intense moments of female masculinity, she rushes to the mountain, and brutally beats Lilla before hanging her by the arm over the cliff. A long battle follows, in which Lilla nearly escapes and Dacre still describes her as a "seraph beauty" (218 ) even though she is emaciated and soiled. Victoria is at her most violent, and Lilla's last words incite Victoria's utmost rage: "Take then my life, Victoria take it at once, but kill me I implore, with the same dagger with which you murdered Henriquez, because he loved me more than he did you!" Fired to madness by this accusation, and the concluding remark, Victoria, no longer mistress to her actions, nor desiring to be so, seized by her streaming tresses the fragile Lilla, and held her back. With her poignard she stabbed her in the bosom, in the shoulder, and other parts: the expiring Lilla sank upon her knees... she covered her body with innumerable wounds, then dashed her headlong over the edge of the steep. Her fairy form bounded as i t fell against the projecting craigs of the mountain, diminishing the sight of her cruel enemy, who followed it far as her eye could reach... she hastened from the dreadful spot... she feared even to turn her head, lest the mangled form of Lilla, risen fro m the stream, should be pursuing her. Now precipices yawned at her feet, and now that lovely form, bounding from crag to crag, seemed at every turn to meet her view; those fair tresses dyed in crimson gore, the bleeding bosom was before her; and now th e agonized shriek of mercy rang in her distracted ears! (Dacre 220 221) Victoria's dagger is treated as like a kind of murder rape weapon; brandishing her phallic poignard, Victoria, relishes in repeatedly stabbing Lilla's soft flesh. A useful comparison c an be made between Antonia's and Lilla's deaths. Like Ambrosio being emasculated by Matilda, Victoria needs something or someone to dominate after being completely emasculated by Zofloya's power. Thus passion in both of these novels is all about domination of a passive victim. Craciun argues that "it is not surprising that a writer whose texts do not comfortably fit our current models of the female Gothic or of feminine Romanticism also has much to teach us
about the subtlety of women's evocations of the b ody, and of their awareness that the female body, even on the most basic corporeal level, is anything but natural (Craciun 10). If Victoria's malleable female masculinity is so dangerous and "unnatural," is she, like Ambrosio, only a kind of Frankenstein's creature to act for a demon? The four books studied so far in this thesis illustrate the disturbing possibility that sexed bodies are not "natural," but are socially constructed and malleable. In the last chapter of this thesis, like Zofloya, the most dan gerous agents of transformation are the most "unnatural:" women's violence, their desire for mastery, and their sexual assertiveness.
CHAPTER 3: Monstrous Mothers, Deadly Femininity, and Reproduction Without Men in Carmilla and She: A History of Adventure We have approached the queer and the uncanny as the mirroring of desire in the form of the doppelganger in Chapter 1 and as repetition compulsion in the form of addiction in Chapter 2. In this chapter I approach two books that help to keep the term "queer" complicated and that were heavily influenced by a redefinition of sexed and gendered bodies that scholars argue occurred during the eighteenth century. In Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla (1872) and H. Rider Haggard's She: A History of Adventure (1887), something has gone wrong with reproduction. Vampires creating vampires, women devouring other women, and monstrous females dominating men are all signs of gender and sexual panic. This panic is queer rather than specifically homosexual, as it is infused w ith anxieties about shifting read as morally degenerating gender roles and identities that go beyond the specificity of gay sexuality (Haefele Thomas 72). Both Le Fanu's vampiric Carmilla and Haggard's all powerful Ayesha are immortal, posses unearthly beauty and embody an intense femininity that can excite fear as well as rapture. They are both marked as criminal in that their deaths resemble a "witch burning," and stand as a judgment on their transgressions of Victorian gender boundaries. One may fin d it a curious choice to juxtapose the hyper heterosexuality of She with the most famous lesbian vampire novel of all time, however, I argue that the novels are complimentary opposites that share an interest in the fatal mother figure. My analysis borrows from the post Freud object relations theories of Melanie Klein, and D.W. Winnicott. In this last chapter, we are jumping seventy five to one hundred years into the future, and in that span of time, the definition of sex was reinvented. In Making Sex: Body and Gender from
the Greeks to Freud (1990), Thomas Laquer documents the shift between what he calls the "one sex" gender/sex model and a newer "two sex" model, arguing that during the eighteenth century, the reproductive organs went from being paradigmatic sites for displaying hierarchy (the one sex model) to being understood as the foundation of incommensurable difference (the two sex model). Organs that once shared a name ovaries and testicles now became linguistically distinguished. Organs that had no t been distinguished by a name of their own (or appeared previously to need no name) the vagina, for example were given one. The bodies of women the perennial other became the battleground for redefining the ancient, intimate, fundamental social re lation: that of woman to man. Laqueur explains that women's bodies came to bear an enormous new weight of meaning, and two sexes were invented as a new foundation for gender. As a result, there were endless new struggles for power in the enlarged public sp here of the eighteenth and particularly the post revolutionary nineteenth centuries: between and among women; between and among feminists and antifeminists. When a preexisting transcendental order became a less and less plausible justification for social r elations, the battleground of gender roles shifted to nature and biological sex. Distinct sexual anatomy was adduced to support or deny all manner of claims in a variety of specific social, economic, political, cultural, or erotic contexts, and the body be came decisive, when it had not been before (Laquer 149 163). The 1880s, the time period during which She was published, was marked by heightened panic in Britain about racial otherness, gender diversity, and non normative sexual practices what we might no w recognize as "queer sexualities." 1885 was the year in which the Labouchre Amendment was passed, criminalizing both public and private homosexual acts between men. Various sexual scandals (esp. the Cleveland Street Affair) throughout the 1880s served to link male homosexuality with prostitution and sexual decadence. These titillating stories of sexual
scandal aggravated notions of sexual decay at the centre of British society (Thomas 73). Consequently, the eighteenth century developments that Laqueur doc uments provided a framework for Gothic writers to call into question the unit upon which any functional society is based the family. Every aspect of the family structure was up for interrogation; marriage, mothering, reproduction, and the act of sex itsel f. The two novels covered in this chapter, with their anti conventional sexual desires and actions, queer our notions of the family as based on heterosexual reproductive relations and a nuclear unit of father, mother, and child. The queer Gothic families in these two novels center around the woman. Here, women reproduce without men, excite their "nursing children" into fits of rapture and anger, and embody maternal authority. The threat of female headed households and dominant women on the one hand aggrava ted men, and on the other hand sexually aroused male audiences that fetishized authoritative women. In this framework, the reader is represented as wanting She Who Must Be Obeyed and the female vampire to dominate the reader even though they repel the read er. I argue that there is something uncanny and queer about the relationship between mother and child as these novels imagine it. Towards the end of Freud's "The Uncanny" (1919), he briefly covers the uncanny relationship between mother and child: It ofte n happens that male patients declare that they feel there is something uncanny about the female genital organs. This unheimlich place, however, is the entrance to the former heim [home] of all human beings, to the place where everyone dwelt once upon a tim e and in the beginning. There is a humorous saying: "Love is home sickness"; and whenever a man dreams of a place or a country and says to himself, still in the dream, "this place is familiar to me, I have been there before," we may interpret the place as being his mother's genitals or her body. In this case, too, the unheimlich is what was once heimisch homelike, familiar; the prefix "un" is the token of repression. (Freud 15)
To review the German word heimlich on the one hand, means that which is fam iliar, and on the other, that which is kept from sight. The word unheimlich is only used as the contrary to the first signification, and not of the second. So among its many meanings, the word heimlich exhibits one which is identical with its opposite, unh eimlich What is heimlich thus comes to be unheimlich (Freud 4). If we think of that prefix 'un' as a sign of repression, it seems to be related to the word "queer," because "un" makes a common noun seem odd and unsettled. So while a comforting, familiar p lace may be compared to the womb, that same place is unsettling. This feeling of home sickness is both the sickness of longing for home and the sickness of being overtired of that home. The womb is thus both heimlich and unheimlich for Freud's patient. Freud characterizes the sight of the female genitals as uncomfortable and frightening, reminding one of their origins from a female body. By contrast, the key issue for Melanie Klein, the Austrian born British psychoanalyst, is the infant's feelings, regar dless of sex/gender, towards its mother. Klein was the first to use traditional psychoanalysis on children, and even though she considered herself a faithful adherent to Freud's ideas, she questioned many of his fundamental assumptions. Going beyond Freud' s later theory of anxiety and the Life (eros) and Death (thanatos) Instincts, Klein concluded that the infant's first anxiety, emanating from the Death Instinct, is fear of annihilation, fear lest it be destroyed by the hatred it feels, say, when it is fru strated by the mother (or her breast), for its initial awareness of self is so fragile (Sayers 28). The mother is not simply a source of plenitude, given the infant's ability to fragment the mother into "part objects" milk, feces, breast, penis, children By greedily in tro jecting good part objects, splitting them off from bad part objects, the infant defends itself from complete disintegration (Doane, Janice and Devon Hodges 8). In Melanie Klein, Psychoanalysis, and Feminism (1987). Janet Sayers explains:
Defending against this anxiety, says Klein, the baby projects its disintegrating hatred out of itself into the mother (and her breast). It now experiences her as the locus of hatred, as hating and attacking it. This gives rise to persecutory anxiety, wri tes Klein, against which the baby defends by splitting off and denying its experience of the mother as frustrating and persecuting. Instead it idealizes her as totally good, loving and gratifying in sum, as the very embodiment of the Life Instinct. But t his provokes rage against her for the liveliness and goodness she now seemingly possesses at its expense. (Sayers 28) More precisely, the infant fears that its own aggression and hatred might be visited back upon itself so the mother frustrates the child leading to aggressive impulses, but then the infant is frightened that the mother might return those feelings and destroy the infant. Soon, however, the baby develops a more secure sense of itself and of its mother as whole people. The child acknowledges the reality of both its hatred and love, of its dependence and independence of the mother, of her separateness as a whole person, neither all good nor all bad, neither ideal not contemptible, both good and bad, loved and hated, gratifying and frustrating (Sayers 30). In their essay "From Klein to Winnicott: A New Mise en scene for Mother" in the book From Klein to Kristeva: Psychoanalytic Feminism and the Search for the "Good Enough" Mother (1992), Janice Doane and Devon Hodges argue that by emphasizing th e primacy of the mother, Klein diminishes the importance of castration anxiety, which is so crucial a turning point in Freud. Further, the infant's anxiety has little to do with castration, or "lack," as Klein's way of positioning the oedipal moment makes clear. Klein's characterization of the mother is wonderfully difficult to place; she is both inside and outside, both male and female. This mother is not "real" good or evil: she is a fluid construction of the child's desires and anxieties. Nor is the "mot her" fixed in a gender category since she is often combined with the father, himself both an idealized and hated object (Doane, Janice and Devon Hodges 11).
Object relations theory does not work in exactly the same way in Carmilla and She but it works in complimentary ways constructing mother figures that both enchant and frustrate their dependents, for the sheer reason that they have so much to offer and have the power to withhold it. Carmilla It is ironic that while Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's novel Ca rmilla (1872) aptly fits Klein's good mother bad mother scheme, the world of Carmilla is largely absent of mothers, with older men acting as guardians for young women. Our protagonist, Laura, is raised by her father, an English expatriate, for her mother d ied during her infancy. Laura's secluded lifestyle in the mountainous and heavily forested south eastern region of Austria makes Laura seem as if she lacks a true origin as she lives miles away from any neighboring town and rarely interacts with society. Carmilla enters into Laura's father's protection when Carmilla's mother mysteriously abandons her after their carriage crashes in the woods. The book is written in epistolary form to an unnamed "town lady" in whom Laura confides. In this framing, this is a story shared between two women about another. The first person epistolary narration lends Carmilla the authenticity of memory, but Laura is not always a trustworthy narrator. She repeatedly fudges her age in the novel; this could be the product of poor copy editing on the part of Le Fanu, but it could also be an intentional insinuation that Laura's claims to innocence should be taken with a grain of salt. In this case, her unreliability indicates a closer relation to her sinister houseguest than she woul d like to admit, as Jamieson Ridenhour argues (Ridenhour viii). Jamieson Ridenhour notes that "all vampire stories are layered with societal anxieties; like a cultural onion, the vampire tale can be peeled back to
reveal psychological, religious, sexual, e thnic, and nationalist fears crystalized in the vampire and its singular drinking problem." He describes the vampire tale as a mirror "casting back a dark image of whatever society holds up to its cold surface" (Ridenhour x). Similarly, Emma Donohue notes that the vampire has often been used as an allegory for the Other, especially a member of a distrusted, invisible minority such as Jews. Queers fit the vampire profile even better: a hidden identity revealed only by subtle signs, a nocturnal subculture of predators looking for nave victims to recruit to their lifestyle (Donoghue 137). Laura and Carmilla literally "consume" each other in a relationship both familial and sexual, and reproduction here is rooted in relationships in which men are absent. After a brief background of her short life, Laura describes one of her earliest memories. She claims that when she was six years old, a young woman came to her bedside and bit her on the throat. The issue of Laura's reliability arises again, for it is rare for s uch an early memory to remain so vivid: I saw a solemn, but very pretty face looking at me from the side of the bed. It was that of a young lady who was kneeling, with her hands under the coverlet. I looked at her with a kind of pleased wonder, and ceased whimpering. She caressed me with her hands, and lay down beside me on the bed, and drew me towards her, smiling, I felt immediately delightfully soothed, and fell asleep again. I was wakened by a sensation as if two needles ran into my breast very deep at the same moment, and I cried loudly. The lady started back, with her eyes fixed on me, and then slipped down upon the floor, and, as I thought, hid herself under the bed. (Le Fanu 3 4) There is a lot of infantile aggression present here in that the baby is fascinated and delighted by the mother figure, but also wishes to retaliate. In this instance, Carmilla is the one "nursing" upon the child, reversing the mother child dichotomy. What this means for the Kleinian object relations perspective is not imme diately identifiable; but this scene does invariably link these
characters in a familial connection. When Laura visits Carmilla's bedside after the carriage crash, Laura feels an uncanny recognition: What was it that, as I reached the bedside and had just begun my little greeting, struck me dumb in a moment, and made me recoil a step or two from before her? I will tell you. I saw the very face which had visited me in my childhood at night, which remained so fixed in my memory, and on which I had for so man y years so often ruminated with horror, when no one suspected of what I was thinking. It was pretty, even beautiful; and when I first beheld it, wore the same melancholy expression. But it almost instantly lighted into a strange fixed smile of recognition. There was a silence of fully a minute, and then at length she spoke, I could not. "How wonderful!" she exclaimed, "Twelve years ago, I saw your face in a dream, and it has haunte d me ever since! (Le Fanu 18) When Carmila enquires further "I wonder whether you feel as strangely drawn towards me as I do to you; I have never had a friend shall I find one now?" (Le Fanu 19), Laura has trouble accounting for her emotions on the matt er. The word "friend" is a loaded word, and its not quite clear what Carmilla means by this. Laura notes: "I did feel, as she said, "drawn towards her," but there was also something of repulsion. In this ambiguous feeling, however, the sense of attraction immensely prevailed (Le Fanu 19). For Laura, desire and disgust are connected rather than opposites. This conjunction of lust and revulsion comes up repeatedly in the scenes that follow. In this "good breast, bad breast" dynamic, Laura hungers for what Ca rmilla has to offer, but nursing upon Carmilla's lust, becomes overfed by that lust, like a baby being over nursed, turning attraction into revulsion.
Carmilla is a mother figure to Laura in more ways that one, She is an ancestress, a mother six generatio ns back to Laura. Laura's father validates their familial connection when he states that his wife was "maternally descended from the Karnstein's" (Le Fanu 56). In this way Carmilla is not only a reflection of Laura but of Laura's mother. However, while Car milla is a mother figure in Laura's life, she is also a doppelgnger of sorts. While Bram Dijkstra claims that "Carmilla, even if she is real, is a mirror image, the photographic negative of Laura, the fashionably invalid narrator" (Dijkstra 341), I believ e they are more than positive/negative images of each other. Carmilla and Laura are both the same as and different from each other, both a single self and a mother/infant. Even though Carmilla is dark haired, predatory, and highly sexualized while Laura is fair haired, passive, and virginal, they both have the their own moments of carnal sexuality and virginal innocence. While Le Fanu makes them appear to be opposites, he implies in fact that Laura's similarities to Carmilla are what make her a target. Jam ieson notes that Bertha and General Spielsdorf, family friends of Laura and her father, further complicate the mirroring in the story by providing reflections of Laura, her father, and their narrative. Bertha dies suddenly from a mysterious sickness that t he reader intuits is brought on by Carmilla's bite, and Bertha's death provides the natural conclusion to Laura's story while allowing Laura herself to survive. Carmilla sits in the center of this hall of mirrors, drawing Laura towards her not through exot icism but affinity (Jamieson ix). Auberbach points out that though Carmilla characterizes her feelings by the Swinburnian code word "strange," her enchantment is her familiarity. We are fascinated, she suggests, by our own reflection (Auerbach 42). In this way, we return to the repetition compulsion of generational self that we encountered in the previous chapter. Laura's queerness comes from her familial destiny.
As Carmilla makes erotic advances, Laura finds difficulty in separating the "good part bad p art" objects that her vampire mother provides: She used to place her pretty arms about my neck, draw me to her, and laying her cheek to mine, murmur with her lips near my ear, 'Dearest, your little heart is wounded; think me not cruel because I obey the ir resistible law of my strength and weakness; if your dear heart is wounded, my wild heart bleeds with yours. In the rapture of my enormous humiliation I live in your warm life, and you shall die die, sweetly die into mine. I cannot help it; as I draw ne ar to you, you, in your turn, will draw near to others, and learn the rapture of that cruelty, which yet is love; so, for a while, seek to know no more of me and mine, but trust me with all your loving spirit.' And when she had spoken such a rhapsody, she would press me more closely in her trembling embrace, and her lips in soft kisses gently glow upon my cheek. Her agitations and her language were unintelligible to me. (Le Fanu 22) Laura says she dislikes these embraces and proclamations, but she is at th e same time enraptured by them. The statement "I live in your warm life, and you shall die die sweetly die into mine" (Le Fanu 22), is profoundly fleshy, evoking the suturing of skin and the meshing of bodies. If we think of blood sucking as both nursi ng and penetrative, it takes their intimacy to an entirely different level. Emma Donoghue argues that even if Laura's mind stays closed in the traditionally even innocent way, her body is awakening; in her dreams she experiences orgasmic sensations which w e guess means that Carmilla is sucking her blood (Donoghue 138). Even though Laura does not quite exhibit the nursing infant's aim to "possess herself of the contents of the mother's body and to destroy her," she perceives Carmilla as a source of both good and sinister things, often conflating the "part objects" that Carmillia provides sex, pain, aggression, sadism. Carmilla characterizes the two of them as one body, but she retains power over that body, for she has the ability to provide and withhold emo tional and erotic conjunction.
Carmilla's statement, "the rapture of that cruelty, which yet is love," embodies that power dynamic. In her state of confusion, Laura goes on to tell the reader that: In these mysterious moods I did not like her. I experienced a strange tumultuous excitement that was pleasurable, ever and anon, mingled with a vague sense of fear and disgust. I had no distinct thoughts about her while such scenes lasted, but I was conscious of a love growing into adoration, and also o f abhorrence. This I know is paradox, but I can make no other attempt to explain the feeling. (Le Fanu 22) The statement "I did not like her" is absolute and certain in the first sentence. The following sentence confusingly fuses sexual excitement with di sgust, bringing back the "good breast, bad breast" dynamic of "overfeeding" and "overlust." This passage, rife with paradoxes love/hate, pleasure/disgust, adoration/abhorrence characterizes the foundation of their relationship. While Jamieson argues th at the vampire's bite is always a metaphor for sex, I think the bite can be a metaphor for many other things for penetration, for nursing, for reproduction, etc. Portraying the vampire bite as strictly a metaphor for sex is actually profoundly limiting i n Jamieson's construction, for it leaves out a host of other potential erotic, emotional, and physical connotations. But Jamieson is apt in noting that this exchange of fluid, whatever it signifies, can be violent and non consenting, often resulting in the rape imagery prevalent in Dracula or in the infantile aggression present in Laura's first childhood encounter with Carmilla (Jamieson xiv). The vampire's thirst for blood is a secret craving for the exchange of fluids by mouth, a melding of bodies, assoc iated with disease, sterility, and death (Donoghue 137). Conflicting emotions elicited in Laura continue throughout the novella; even after Carmilla has been exposed, Laura admits that: to this hour the image of Carmilla returns to memory with ambiguous a lterations sometimes the playful, languid, beautiful girl; sometimes the writhing fiend I saw in the ruined church; and
often from a reverie I have started, fancying I heard the light step of Carmilla at the drawing room door. (Le Fanu 83) Here the issu e of Laura's reliability resurfaces again. She speaks as if she was at the scene of Carmilla's execution, but she simultaneously claims that she only heard of the event through her father. Carmilla's image haunts Laura in more ways than one not only in t he fact that Laura was one of her victims, but with the suggestion that Carmilla has created more like herself, retaining to the ability to reproduce beyond the grave. As stated earlier in this chapter, reproduction has gone awry in this novel. Carmilla ma nages to produce many of her own kind, even though it is implied that during her pre vampirism seventeenth century life, she was unable to reproduce with her husband. Towards the end of the novel, Baron Vordenburg, a pseudo scientific vampire researcher th at happens upon the scene of Carmilla's expulsion, explains the Countess Millarca's (Carmilla is a pseudonym) relationship with the Moravian n obleman Karnstein, insinuating that Carmilla and her spouse were unable to reproduce through intercourse: It is t he nature of vampires to increase and multiply, but according to an ascertained and ghostly law. Assume, at starting, a territory perfectly free from the pest. How does it begin, and how does it multiply itself? I will tell you. A person, more or less wick ed, puts an end to himself. A suicide, under certain circumstances, becomes a vampire. That spectre visits living people in their slumbers; they die, and almost invariably, in the grave, develop into vampires. This happened in the case of the beautiful Mil larca, who was haunted by one of those demons. (Le Fanu 82) In this way, heterosexual sex is unnecessary to produce children; or in any case, Carmilla does not need to become pregnant to produce more like herself. The phrase "it is the nature of vampires to increase and multiply" characterizes vampires as an infestation. Baron Vordenburg refers to them as "pests" that "multiply," as if he is describing rats or roaches breeding, or even bacteria reproducing in a petri dish. Carmilla's rapid reproduction occ urs for the most part in the
countryside, as she preys on peasant girls but falls in love with Laura, a protected lady like herself. Nina Auerbach observes the class issues in this method of reproduction, reminding us that Carmilla distinguishes among her prey only on the sterling basis of class (Auerbach 41). Whi le the peasant women provide an endless source of "food," she only reproduces the mother infant state with wealthy women. When Carmilla bites someone, that person bites another person, and so on in a chain that creates endless female vampiric relationships like hers with Laura. Laura experiences this perverse female vampiric reproduction as pleasure, unbearable excitement, an d disgust. There is also a hint of infantile fantasies of magical reproduction here, relating back to object relations theory well, in that female vampiric sex is like "parthenogenesis" a form of asexual reproduction in which growth and development of em bryos occurs without fertilization. Young children often invent wild stories of where babies come from in order to make sense of their world, and these fantasies usually have nothing to do with heterosexual sex. This reproduction is magical as much as it i s uncanny and queer. The queer vampiric mother figure is terrifying in that she both utilizes enormous reproductive powers and has the ability to provide and withhold emotional and erotic conjunction. This solidifies the mother as the provider of all good things but also as a source of evil. Given the manner in which this mother reproduces, it would be incredibly hard for the infant to develop a more secure sense of itself and of its mother as whole, separate people for mother comes from infant as much a s infant comes from child. The novel ends with a note of uncertainty, with the suggestion that Carmilla still haunts Laura's dreams. One may wonder will Laura herself turn into a vampire later on in life? Will there be a peasant "vampire zombie" uprising following the conclusion of this novel? These questions are left unanswered. We have
seen the monstrous mother figure pose a threat to unsullied female spaces in Carmilla but as we move into She this vision of maternal monstrosity poses a threat to male homosocial spaces as well. She: A History of Adventure Henry Rider Haggard's She: A History of Adventure (1887), like Carmilla is a book empty of mothers. Until they venture into Africa, Leo Vincey, Horace Holly, and Job live in a completely homosocial environment at Cambridge. In fact, they take pride in the fact that they don't have women around to complicate their lives. Citing his ugliness and his failed romances as he looks into a mirror, Holly, with a rather resigned lack of remorse, states: "I wa s set apart by Nature to live alone, and draw comfort from her breast, and hers only. Women hated the sight of me... [I felt] a sort of grim satisfaction in the sense of my own loneliness; for I had neither father nor mother, nor brother (Haggard 8). Follo wing this scene, Leo is brought into his life, and Holly creates a homosocial family revolving around Leo, his adopted son. In She women are a source of frustration, and instead of fitting into Sedgwick's triangular model of homosociality in which women s erve as conduits through which bonds between men are expressed, women threaten the stability of homosociality. Men's uncanny relationship with the mother figure's "good breast, bad breast" her ability to give and to withhold sets men against each other in order to obtain the mother. She, like Carmilla, is situated in a frame narrative, in which an editor visiting Cambridge comes across "the handsomest young fellow he had ever seen" walking arm in arm with a companion who was "as ugly as his companion wa s handsome" (Rider Haggard 3). The editor introduces himself to the two men, Leo and his adopted father, Horace, and during his stay in
Cambridge, the editor receives a manuscript from Horace, with the oath that "everything is described in the accompanying manuscript exactly as it happened" (Rider Haggard 5). The reader then enters Horace's manuscript, which begins in Horace's Cambridge home where he is a professor. His friend who is dying from tuberculosis arrives to beg him to adopt his five year old son, Leo Vincey. Agreeing, Horace inherits five year old Leo and a mysterious trunk, which is not to be opened until the day Leo turns twenty five. Horace hires Job to be a faithful servant and Leo's "mother" because he does not want any woman influencing his adopted son. For twenty years, the three live happily together in this homosocial environment. Leo opens the trunk on his twenty fifth birthday, to find a letter from his father claiming that his ancestry dates back to the ancient Priest of Isis. Amenartes writer of the initial story, drew a map of Africa on a potsherd and wrote a detailed guide to the realm of a beautiful, immortal white queen named Ayesha (or She Who Must Be Obeyed ) in the heart of Africa. Amenartes vows revenge against this queen, claim ing that she seduced and killed Kallikrates, her husband. Armed with the map and instructions, Horace, Leo, and Job sail to the coast of Africa in search of certain markers described by Amenartes, including a huge rock in the shape of an Ethiopian head. Th ey and Mohamed, an Arab sailor, are the only four to survive a shipwreck. In the midst of finding their way through fetid swamps, they are taken at spear point by the Arabic speaking Amahagger. The only thing that saves them from death is the fact they are white, for Ayesha has dictated to the Amahagger, "if white men come, kill them not." Mohammed's life is initially spared because he is with white men; however, the Amahagger attempt to boil him alive. Mohammed is "saved" from this terrible death when Hora ce shoots and kills him. Leo, Horace, and Job are then blindfolded and taken further into the core of the continent to meet the infamous She Who Must Be Obeyed. Both Horace and Leo fall in love with the eternal and all powerful beauty, only to
find out tha t Leo is the reincarnation of Kallikrates for whom Ayesha has been waiting for two thousand years in order to make amends. Ayesha invites both men to follow her through an intricate network of caves, into the womb like centre of the earth, so that they can bathe with her in the Fire of Life. Ayesha, who enters the fire first, is burned to death because one can only enter the flames once. Horace, Leo, and Job stand by and watch the spectacle, and Job dies from a heart attack. Forever changed, Horace and Leo escape Africa and return to the safety of their homosocial Cambridge environment. Researchers studying Haggard's life have linked Horace Holly's insecurity around women to Haggard's citing that Africa became a space for Haggard to reinvent himself as a courageous man rather than his father's weakest son (Haefele Thomas 26). However, this anxiety around women is represented most hauntingly in accounts of where Haggard found the name for the novel. In Haggard's own account, the name of the novel was "take n from a certain rag doll, so named, which a nurse at Bradenham used to bring out of some dark recess in order to terrify those of my brother s and sister s who were in her charge 14 Haggard's daughter's Lilias has a different account: In the cupboard lived.. a disreputable rag doll of a particularly hideous aspect, with boot button eyes, hair of black wool and a sinister leer painted upon its face. This doll was something of a fetish, and Rider, as a small child, was terrified of her, a fact soon discovered by an unscrupulous nurse who made full use of it to frighten him into obedience. Why or how it came to be called She Who Must Be Obeyed he could not remember, but so it was, and in after years the memory of the repellent inhabitant of the nursery !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Rider Haggard. The Days of My Life: An Autobiography. Ed. C. J. Longman. Adelaide: The University of Adelaide, Australia, 1926. Reprint 2012. Chapter 8. cited in Haefele Thomas, 81 82.
cupboard gave h er name to the 'she' who was to become famous all over the world. (Haggard 28 29) While the doll embodies racist stereotypes of a sexually "savage" African woman (Thomas 82), what I find most interesting is how Haggard's uncanny relationship with the doll brings to mind D.W. Winnicott's theory of transitional objects. In "Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena" (1971), Winnicott describes the transitional object as a toy a blanket, teddybear or doll, for example that takes the place of the mother. He differentiates the infant's capacity to recognize the object as "not me," the place of the object (outside, inside, or at the border), and the initiation of an affectionate type of object relationship (Winnicott 1). According to Winnicott, transitional objects play an essential role in a child's construction of their reality. Winicott writes: "It is true that the piece of blanket (or whatever it is) is symbolical of some part object, such as the breast. Nevertheless, the point of it is not its symbolic value so much as its actuality. Its not being the breast (or the mother), although real, is as important as the fact that it stands for the breast (or mother)" (Winnicott 4). Put more succinctly, the child's experience with the transitional ob ject teaches them to discern fantasy and fact. He describes it as "journey of progress towards experiencing" (Winnicott 4). The child places enormous symbolic weight on the object, which gives the object a lot of power even though it is inanimate. Separati on from the object could provoke fits of tears and rage from the child. The object in our case the hideous rag doll dubbed She Who Must Be Obeyed is a sinister re conception of that object. Even though Haggard was terrified of the doll, Lilias claims t hat he still considered it a "fetish" that is, an object endowed with magical properties. Rather than a sexual object, the older meaning of the word "fetish" is more like a voodoo doll something either magical itself or that is there to receive one's aggre ssion, like a scapegoat. "Fetish" gets used this way in George Eliot's Mill on the Floss for a doll, and it turns
up as a doll again in D. H. Lawrence's Sons & Lovers It is certainly related t o the British empire in that it i s associated with exotic and A frican locations. I argue that the name She Who Must Be Obeyed serves as a signifier for something inexplicable and terrifying. This terror is specifically gendered feminine and tied to a fear of compulsion and a loss of autonomy. Previously in this chapter, we have discussed the "unspeakable" "that which cannot be s poken about outright" (Freud 13) as specifically queer. She Who Must Be Obeyed is so queer that the men cannot say her true name, Ayesha. The phrase She Who Must Be Obeyed is so conclusive that She must be obeyed at all costs that it translates this se nse of anxiety and inexplicability. She Who Must Be Obeyed, like the rag doll did for Haggard, is most obviously a metaphor for maternal authority; she who both inspires male desire and denies male sovereignty. She disrupts the fantasy of their homosocial household by completely flipping it on its head: the novel opens with an all male family that seems to work through seniority, class, and affection. When they encounter She, they are thrust into a different familial model with She at the top, Leo as her c hosen partner, and Holly as a supporting figure rather than the dominant mentor figure he's been thus far. Job falls even further on the totem pole. This reconfiguring of their family dynamic changes the fantasy of an all male social and affectionate world to one that is subject to a terrifying and also captivating feminine dominatrix. Tamar Heller argues that if Ayesha was nothing but the objectified body of Woman as Other, She would not be nearly as terrifyingly Gothic an image of female power as she is. She is so terrifying because she is not simply desirable object but desiring object. She defines herself by the aggressive and tyrannical intensity of her love for the dead Kallikrates. Thus She, rather than the male, is the initiator of sexual conquest and this encodes in a larger sense her New Woman
like power to be independent of men. In this way, Ayesha's aggressive sexuality and the independence it embodies pose a threat to traditional masculinity (Heller 60 61). In She the African landscape is emb edded with images of the mother, operating as an imperial Gothic trope. The land must be penetrated regardless of the "fear of being eat up" (Haefele Thomas 84 85). Horace, Leo, and Job navigate breast like volcanoes, vaginal chasms, and treacherous swampy terrain that Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar describe as a "Freudianly female paysage moralis, or a moralized landscape (Heller 57) On their way to K r, Ayesha's residence in the very pinnacle (both phallic and nipple like) of a great mountain, the trave lers traverse a swamp replete with the 'awful smell of rotting vegetation' and slowly work their way up a plain until they find the great, round volcanic mountain (Haggard 89, 95). The vulval imagery of the swamp, with its horrific smell, is similar to oth er Gothic texts that write the female genitalia as some slimy, rotting, man eating spac e. 15 At one point in their journey to K r, a caravan falls into the mire, and the bearer is eaten alive by the brown green ooze. From this grotesque vulval region, they reach the plain and eventually make their way up the mountain to Ayesha's domain a place of swelling breasts and withered female bodies (Haefele Thomas 84 85) When Ayesha first lifts her veil for Horace, he describes her as having "life that was more th an life" and as having "a certain serpent like grace that was more than human (Haggard 107)" He is literally overwhelmed by and gorged on her beauty, to the point where it is physically sickening to him. This is particularly disconcerting for a man who is accustomed to the company of men exclusively. This attraction/disgust harkens back to the "good breast, bad breast" scenes in Carmilla. Horace hungers for what She has to offer, but feeding on her power and beauty, becomes overfed, like a baby being over n ursed, turning attraction into revulsion. In !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "( S ee especially Kelly Hurley The Gothic Body Chapter 6.
Horace's own words, She is a woman with a countenance that "whilst it horrified and repelled, attracted in even a greater degree" (Haggard 107). Like Laura, desire and disgust here are connected. He experiences a mixture of lust and revulsion the first time he sees her face: I gazed above them at her face, and I do not exaggerate shrank back blinded and amazed. I have heard of the beauty of celestial beings, now I saw it; only this beauty, with all its awful loveliness and purity, was evil at least, at the time, it struck me as evil. How am I to describe it? I cannot I simply cannot! The man does not live whose pen could convey a sense of what I saw. I might talk of the great changing eyes of deepest, sof test black, of the tinted face, of the broad and noble brow, on which the hair grew low, and delicate, straight features. But beautiful, surpassingly beautiful as they all were, her loveliness did not lie in them. It lay rather, if it can be said to have h ad any fixed abiding place, in a visible majesty, an imperial grace, in a godlike stamp of softened power, which shone upon that radiant countenance like a living halo. Never before had I guessed what beauty made sublime could be and yet, the sublimity w as a dark one the glory was not all of heaven though none the less was it glorious. Though the face before me was that of a young woman of certainly not more than thirty years, in perfect health, and the first flush of ripened beauty, yet it had stampe d upon it a look of unutterable experience, and of deep acquaintance with grief and passion. Not even the lovely smile that crept about the dimples of her mouth could hide this shadow of sin and sorrow. (Haggard 128) Horace is disgusted by her beauty, but he is also disgusted by the profound age that her countenance conveys, that two thousand years of wisdom and knowledge hide between her eyes. It is terrifying that a woman can look so profoundly inviting, yet lack the signs of age that typically accompany years of darkness and evil. In this case, age and agelessness are signs of knowledge and power. Horace, in his misogynist socialization, expects naivet and innocence to be paired with beauty, but She does not follow this rule. Horace knows that her beaut y is "evil," a dark sublime, because She is not nave. On the contrary, she has profound sexual knowledge and proves to be intellectually superior to him, and this is what makes her initial image so horrifying. This is what make s it Goth ic In his descript ion of her, she is so intensely beautiful
that the meaning swivels around to its opposite she is both angelic and evil, beautiful and ghastly, delicate and threatening. After this initial encounter, Ayesha and Horace sit and discuss the last two thousand years of history. Soon Horace realizes that Ayesha is in fact smarter than he that she has wisdom centuries beyond his years. She "out mans" him intellectually, physically, and emotionally and this makes Horace feel extremely vulnerable. His extreme u gliness and her overwhelming beauty emphasize their relationship as opposites. This is a kind of binary that indicates but isn't exclusively about gender/sex. In a moment of reverie in which she entreats Horace to complement on her, Horace sinks to the gro und under the weight of her beauty. Horace reasons that she cannot possibly be a woman because of her ability to repeatedly "out man" him: I could bear it no longer. I am but a man, and she was more than a woman. Heaven knows what she was I do not! But t hen and there I fell upon my knees before her, and told her in a sad mixture of languages for such moments confuse the thoughts that I worshipped her as never woman was worshipped, and that I would give my immortal soul to marry her, which at that time I certainly would have done, and so, indeed, would any other man, or all the race of men rolled into one. For a moment she looked a little surprised, and then she begun to laugh, and clap her hands in glee. "Oh, so soon, oh Holly!" she said. "I wondered h ow many minutes it would it would need to bring thee to thy knees. I have not seen a man kneel before me for so many days, and believe me, to a woman's heart the sight is sweet, ay, wisdom and length of days take not that dear pleasure which is our sex's o nly right." "What wouldst thou? what woul d st thou? Thou dost not know what thou doest. Have I not told thee that I am not for thee? I love but one, and thou art not the man. Ah Holly, for all thy wisdom and in a way thou art wise thou art but a fool running after folly. Thou wouldst look into mine eyes thou wouldst kiss me. Well, if it pleaseth thee, look ," and she bent herself towards me, and fixed her dark and thrilling orbs upon my own: "ay, and kiss too, if thou wilt, for, thanks be given to the scheme of things, kisses leave no marks, e xcept upon the heart. But if thou dost kiss, I tell thee of a
surety wilt thou eat out thy breast with love of me, and die!" and she bent yet further towards me till her soft hair brushed my brow, and her fragrant breath played upon my face, and made me fa int and weak. Then of a sudden, even as I stretched out my arms to clasp, she straightened herself, and a quick change passed over her. Reaching out her hand, she held it over my head, and it seemed to me that something flowed from it that chilled me back to common sense, and a knowledge of propriety and domestic virtues." (Haggard 128) This emasculating scene brings up vampiric imagery again as Ayesha threatens: "I tell thee of a surety wilt thou eat out thy breast with love of me, and die!" Her affection is carnal and all consuming, and it is unclear who would be eating whom, were Horace to kiss her. While she says this, she advances on him rapidly, as if she is about to pounce and bite yet she claims that he will eat his own breast out. Aroused and ho rrified at the same time, Horace constantly questions whether or not she is real. In his original letter to the editor, Horace writes: "Who was she" (Haggard 5)? He often describes her throughout the novel as "more than a woman," and often questions whethe r or not she is a woman at all (Haggard 128). This is not only because "woman" is by definition in a secondary relation to "man" (just look at the word). It is because She is not secondary, dependent, less than, but more than a woman and more than a man. A rdel Haefele Thomas tells us Ayesha's uncanniness her monstrosity lies in Horace's (as well as the late Victorian reader's) inability to categorize her she is not completely human, nor completely female (Haefele Thomas 90). Ayesha herself acknowledge s that she is infinitely complex: "Thou dost not know me, Holly... I am of many moods" she tells him (Haggard 128). While Haefele Thomas argues that the destruction of the bipolar gender scheme in She does not lie within the homosocial between the three me n but within the body of Ayesha herself, I argue that it lies in both
Another explanation for Ayesha's power is that she frightens people into obedience through her beauty, her imperiousness, and her dominance. Most of her power is psychological, but she also intimidates her enemies by smiting them or turning their hair white. She explains: "How thinkest thou that I rule this people? I Have a regiment of guards that do my bidding, therefore it is not by force. It is by terror. My empire is of the imaginati on" (Haggard 93). Ruling by imagination, she rarely needs to actually smite someone to make her point, with the exception of one female rival. As he gets ready to meet her, Horace says "I did not feel overwhelmed with gratitude at the prospect of meeting s ome savage, dusky queen, however absolute and mysterious she might be, more especially my mind was full of dear Leo, for whose life I began to have great fears" (Haggard 95). Horace, who has already admitted his own misogyny, can only concentrate on his love for Leo; he appears to be in no way overwhelmed with the prospect of meeting a female figure he can only imagine as "savage" and "dusky" one which he sees as no threat to his relationship with Leo (Haefele Thomas 89). It is useful to remember Ren Gir ard's claim that "the homosexual drift stems logically from the fact that the model/rival is a man,' producing at times a 'noticeably increased preponderance of the mediator and a gradual obliteration of the [female] object (Girard 259, 44). Thus, unlike o ther Gothic texts explored in this study, the queer space in this case the homosocial (and homoerotic) space is not "out there," but deeply embedded in the core of English intellectual culture and society (Haefele Thomas 89). When Holly checks on Leo, who is in the throes of death from malaria that he contracted in the jungle, Holly regrets having spent so much time with Ayesha: How I cursed my selfishness and the folly that had kept me lingering by Ayesha's side while my dear boy lay dying! Alas and al as! How easily the best of us are lighted down to evil by the gleam of a woman's eyes! What a wicked wretch was I! Actually,
for the last half hour I had scarcely thought of Leo, and this, be it remembered, of the man who for twenty years had been my deare st companion, and the chief interest of my existence. And now, perhaps, it was too late! (Haggard 130 131) This excerpt illustrates that Horace's relationship with Ayesha is much queerer than his relationship with Leo. Horace finds it horrifying that he c ould spend more mental energy on a woman than a man, even for a few minutes. For Horace, "the best of us" are not only "lighted down to evil" by the gleam of Ayesha's eyes, but all women's eyes. Women (emblematized by this one extreme woman) are dangerous and they have reduced him to "wickedness." When Ayesha unveils herself for Leo, his reaction is similar to Horace's: every expression of revulsion is counteracted by wonder and amazement. Again, Horace forgets his homosocial bonds with Leo and is overcome by jealousy. Sedgwick's triangular model for homosociality is broken as Horace in a fit of jealous rage nearly attacks Leo, who is the true object of his affection: Look now on me, Kallikrates!" and with a sudden motion she shook her gauzy covering from her, and stood forth in her low kirtle and her snaky zone, in her glorious, radiant beauty and her imperial grace, rising from her wrappings, as it were, like Venus from the wave, or Galatea from her marble, or a beautified spirit from the tomb. She stood forth, and fixed her deep and glowing eyes upon Leo's eyes, and I saw his clenched fists unclasp, and his set and quivering features relax beneath her gaze. I saw his wonder and astonishment grow into admiration, and then into fascination, and more he str uggled the more I saw the power of her dread beauty fasten on him and take possession of his senses, drugging them, and drawing the heart out of him. Did I not know the process? Had not I, who was twice his age, gone through it myself? Was I not going thro ugh it afresh even then, although her sweet and passionate gaze was not for me? Yes, alas, I was! Alas, that I should have to confess that at that very moment I was rent by mad and furious jealousy. I could have flown at him, shame upon me! The woman had c onfounded and almost destroyed my moral sense, as she was bound to confound all who looked upon her supernatural loveliness. (Haggard 152)
As she does for Horace, she engorges Leo's senses, presenting too much beauty for him to handle. The more he struggles, the more she takes him in. Again, we see this vampiric draining imagery, as she drains him of his homosocial desires, his autonomy and s elf will. Horace laments that She Who Must Be Obeyed has not only made him want to lash out at the most valuable person in his life, but that she had "confounded and almost destroyed" his "moral sense." While this "destroyed moral sense" definitely refers to his conduct towards Leo, it is also a signifier for all the things that She has drained from him his male sovereignty, his intellectual superiority, even his age. Horace, who started out as the leader of his small troupe including Leo, Job, and Muhamm ad, is reduced to merely one of the pack and another follower or supplicant. Extreme female beauty makes men heterosexual. It makes Horace and Leo both take on the expected role of the male lover who worships his ideal beloved. It also destroys male homos ocial bonds and substitutes rivalry. Horace doesn't actually attack Leo, but comes close. He feels hetero jealousy suddenly in place of his usual affectionate love and patronage for Leo. What is displaced and hidden between the lines is his jealousy for Le o Horace would like to have Leo for himself, but the dynamic is one of jealousy of Leo and a desire for Ayesha. This kind of reversal can mean the opposite if we think psychoanalytically: Horace's love for Leo is evident in the depth of his jealousy when i t is misdirected. His jealousy is also protective he wants to get Leo away from this dangerous woman. After Ayesha's death, Horace and Leo safely return to their homosocial life. Leo appears grateful that he doesn't have to deal with women anymore: "She ca lled to me not to forget her," he said hoarsely; "and swore that we should meet again. By heaven! I will never forget her. Here I swear that, if we live to get out of this, I will not for all my days have anything to say to another living woman, and that w herever I go I will wait for her as faithfully as she waited for me" (197).
Even though She Who Must Be Obeyed perishes, she has a lasting impact on their sense of masculinity. At the end of the novel, She is a fantasy for authorizing male male bonding. In Leo's oath, there is a fantasy "in memory" of She that Leo and Horace will remain partnered and even celebrate that. Both of them have sworn off women but neither was interested in women in the first place. And "She" is clearly marked as non woman or at least something more or other, especially if woman is defined as submissive and dependent. In both of these works, a particular connection is marked as erotic, illicit, and dangerous to good British social order. In Carmilla it's a female female incest uous homoerotic connection that is posed as unnatural. It is not the right kind of body connection and it is reproductive, but in the wrong ways. The protagonist is "saved" by male action that destroys Carmilla but leaves memories and desires that Laura ca nnot forget. In She it is a male homosocial relation marked by age difference and oddly a difference in physical attractiveness that is disrupted by a kind of super woman/goddess who demands one of the men as her proper mate and seems to turn them into ri vals rather than lovers/father son/teacher student. But her death liberates them to return to a homosocial monogamy, now in some way bl essed by her death as if they have been inoculated against women forever. This is all quite queer if the point is that c onventional Victorian expectations of a marriage plot, a binary gender dynamic that leads to a male head of household and a female subservient mother, is completely subverted. It's gothic with the hints of dark pleasure, a dark sublime, evil that is also v ery attractive. Klein helps us to see the way that familial affection is at heart aggressive and devouring.
CONCLUSION This thesis has forced me to reconsider the meanings and uses of the concept queer, and the fundamental purposes and destinations of queering (Traub 22). In my first chapter, the queer is most strongly aligned with homosexuality, but as I moved through the second and third chapters, I was able to designate a broader definition one based in non normative sexualities and genders. I hope that this move illustrates the flexibility and ever shifting definition of the word, both in Gothic liter ature and in contemporary queer culture. The word "queer" helps us to understand why gothic fiction is so fluid, indeterminate, and unsettling of conventions. We need to keep hanging on to the full richness of the concept of queer and queering to avoid dev olving into more acceptable gender/sex identities. In this thesis I am uncovering something in these works that is already queer. This is no doubt why readers who associate themselves with queerness find them so appealing. My analysis itself is a project i n queering these works and I want to make readers of this thesis unable to read these novels in the future through normalizing readings. My aim in many ways has also become the advancement of a more precise collective dialogue on negotiating the complex l inks between queer sexu alities and genders (see Traub ). All of these novels have a particular physical connection between characters that is marked as erotic, illicit, and dangerous to good British social order. We witness the disturbing possibility that sexed bodies are not "natural" but are socially constructed and thus malleable, the most dangerous agents of transformation being the most unnatural. A historicist perspective can point to the worlds depicted in these novels as more queer than contempora ry street concepts of "queer" as simply non heterosexuality. There is an assumption that what is more contemporary is always more liberated, but I'm not convinced this is so, and Foucault definitely
thinks that the early modern world before binary gender/s ex as complementary and innate was more fluid and in fact, in my sense, "queerer." I have also had a revelation as to why Gothic literature is so disturbing: while readers safely distance themselves from the content as they read, much of the content is qu ite contemporary. We tell ourselves, "this stuff is backward and old," but it really isn't that old and a lot of the sick and seemingly perverse things happening in these novels are profoundly relevant to our time in history. Rape is still a major issue and has recently been in the news. In many ways this is where rape culture and rape fantasies were started, in the pages of these books. The fantastic and magical in these books creates a safe covering over the underlying plot, making it easier for us to c laim that these things couldn't possibly happen in our own lives, when actually, while we are reading, we notice how uncannily familiar these scenes are to our own experiences and our own imaginations and fantasies. I have asked myself w hy contemporary re aders searching for models to unsettle heteronormativity and compulsory heterosexuality find gothic fiction appealing. Like I said in my introduction, scholars of Gothic literature as well as readers find an uncannily personal sense of identification with the Gothic. The Gothic is uncanny in that it appears to be based on a sense of a "secret encounter" in which the text brings to light something that ought to be repressed, something that feels particularly pertinent to people whose identities, bodies, and desires have been culturally designated queer (Rigby 48). The uncanny also says a lot about what coming out in contemporary culture is like. LGBTQIA persons face a constant confrontation with past selves and the awkward feeling of not being able to explain a desire. For a trans* person, the body as an uncanny space is both heimlich and unheimlich characterized by a feeling of home sickness that is both the sickness of longing for home and the sickness of being overtired of that home. The
body a place th at is supposed to be comforting and familiar becomes unsettling and oppressive. While the uncanny brings out the darker aspects of queerness to light, there is also a playfulness and resistance that the word conveys. In its own way, the word uncanny is q ueer. Heimlich becomes its opposite, unheimlich. It means both that which is familiar and that which is repressed and kept from sight. It is the perfect word for describing the crisis of language that queerness present us with. I would like to end with the ironic conclusion that I am glad that this thesis has not "defined" the queer or pinned it down. It hasn't sacrificed the term's flexibility and i nclusiveness for the act of defining the queer is to un queer it.
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