By D. Downey
This ebook indicates simply how heavily overdue nineteenth-century American women's ghost tales engaged with gadgets equivalent to images, mourning paraphernalia, wallpaper and humble household furnishings. that includes uncanny stories from the massive urban to the small city and the empty prairie, it bargains a brand new viewpoint on an previous style.
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Extra resources for American Women’s Ghost Stories in the Gilded Age
Many critics turn to Sigmund Freud’s ‘The “Uncanny”’ (1919), the opening section of which is devoted to the proximity of meaning between the German words heimlich and unheimlich, the former having two, not entirely contradictory, meanings. The first is ‘Intimate, friendlily comfortable; [ ... ’ This second meaning shades into that of unheimlich, roughly translated as ‘“the name for everything that ought to have remained ... ”’3 Consequently, ‘heimlich is a word the meaning of which develops in the direction of ambivalence, until it finally coincides with its opposite, unheimlich.
M. 59 Once again, the apparent vibrancy and allure of a painted dead woman seems to drain all life from a living, less obviously attractive one; the morally faultless Félice, initially the object of affection of a young man seduced by the magnetic specter, appears, sitting on a tombstone, ‘wan and ghostly in the lonely dusk’. This figurative spectralization intensifies as the memory of the beautiful, framed woman distracts her visitor, Keith, who had been on the point of pressing his suit. 60 Instead, the voluptuous ghost, who appears more real to him, and who he is convinced is being held prisoner in the house, lures him into a bedroom, where her portrait hangs.
The pearls – which she always wore – some coral ornaments, and a handful of amber beads were her only dower, but her caprices were the insolent and extravagant caprices of a queen [ ... ’61 The archetype of the extravagant vampire woman, who surfaces again in later chapters, she is outwardly beautiful but lacking in proper motherly or wifely qualities, desired and desiring; and, in Davis’s story, is ultimately triumphant. Keith abandons the house and Félice, haunted by the memory of her mother; he only comes to his senses when he loses a ring, the carrier of bad memories and fateful lust, that Hélène had given to his father and that the ghost leaves for him to find.
American Women’s Ghost Stories in the Gilded Age by D. Downey