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Doppel Daenger and Female Gothic in The Black Cat

Doppel Daenger and Female Gothic in The Black Cat

“Doppel daenger” – the perilous thought that has been perpetually occupying the minds of many scholars – originates from the German language. By definition, this phrase translates to the existence of one’s double – the concept of someone else independently existing with an equal identity to another individual he/she closely resembles. The idea of shared identity prevails in the genre of Gothic Literature, especially as a counter part of the female Gothic and predominantly in the great American all time author, Edgar Allan Poe’s literary works. By the same token, the category of the Gothic genre called female Gothic entails both female authorship and emphasis on psychological depth. Thus, Poe takes the two literary devices and in attempt of fusing them together for the purposes of creating a more complex plot, the author delves in the issue of the contribution and purpose of double characters to the Gothic plot.

As Poe uses double characters as a literary device, interwoven with the use of female Gothic, in order to create an intricate and perplexing plot he also sets the foundations for an astonishing paradoxical situation. Most often, the engagement of a double figure plays a constructive role in respect to the plot thus expanding and embellishing the plot (not necessarily to the better), and a destructive role in respect to the revelation whose unhappy outcome contributes to the Gothic genre.

On the beginning of the story “The Black Cat,” Poe introduces the “remarkably large and beautiful animal, entirely black, and sagacious to an astonishing degree” and then immediately ventures to remark on the “ancient popular notion which regarded all black cats …

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…rwoven interrelations between the female Gothic and the double character device. In “The Black Cat,” both the stoic black cat and its double entice the perplexing double and the female Gothic principles. Consequently, with the use of the two devices, and through an intricate plot the author forces the main character to self-destruction: “the evil creature left me no moment alone…the thing upon my face, and its vast weight…incumbent eternally upon my heart” (326). This thought lingers with the narrator and haunts him till the end of his torment. “It is the Gothic’s special vocation to incarnate this paradoxical doubling of being/non-being, i.e. existing throughout the majority of the story in order to self-destruction” (Web source 4).

Works Cited and Consulted

“Triangle Journals – Women’s Writing”:

The Turn of the Screw – A Look at a Criticism

The Turn of the Screw – A Look at a Criticism

There are many different ways to interpret The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James. Many critics over the past century have voiced their opinions about the story. Each critical analysis of the story disagrees with the beliefs expressed in another. Robert B. Heilman is a critic who wrote in the mid-twentieth century. He interprets The Turn of the Screw to be a representation of the conflict between good and evil. Heilman’s points are clear and obviously well thought out, but there are flaws in his argument that make his interpretation questionable.

In his 1948 essay, Robert Heilman explores the suggestion that The Turn of the Screw is a symbolic representation of the conflict between good and evil. Heilman interprets the apparitions of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel as evil forces. He explains that the ghosts only appear to the governess because evil lurks in subtlety before it strikes. It is the duty of the governess to “detect and ward off evil.” She must protect the children from the awful ghosts. The governess describes Miles and Flora as beautiful little cherubs whose only fault is their gentleness (James, 18-19). Heilman views the children’s beauty as a “symbol of the spiritual perfection of which man is capable.” Heilman explains the ghosts’ attempts to reach the children by explaining that evil forces will always try to conquer and possess the human soul. Heilman continues to draw from the descriptions of Miles and Flora to support his theories. He points out that the two children are described as having an “angelic beauty” and a “positive fragrance of purity” (James 9, 13). The governess describes them as if they are perfect and beautiful in every way. This repeated vision of beauty, radiance, and innocence parallels the image of Eden. The house at Bly also resembles this image, “I remember the lawn and the bright flowers…” (James 7). The governess makes mention of the “golden sky” and of Flora’s “hair of gold,” which Heilman believes connects Bly and Flora with these images of golden hues (James 7, 9).

Robert Heilman perceives that the ghost of Peter Quint is a direct representation of the serpent that plagues the Garden of Eden. Heilman supports this with the description of Quint found in the text, “His eyes are sharp, strange- awfully; .

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