The presentation of female identity is essential to Gothic literature. Presenting women in a particular light can often have a profound effect upon a text, completely altering a reader’s interpretation. In the narrative poetry of John Keats, Angela Carter’s ‘The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories’ and Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, women are presented as objects of desire, maternal figures, supernatural beings and are often defined by their biological roles. But it is the transition between these typecasts that is particularly interesting. By allowing female characters to break free of stereotypical constraints the writer is able to create obscurity and suspense within a plot.
The woman wears a long velvet dressing gown over a lace peignoir that froths around her ankles like seafoam as she runs across the moor. In the distance, the shape of a house grown vast and gloriously terrible beyond any architect’s dreams looms, bleak and menacing and wonderful. The moon is high enough to light the scene; the sun is a lie told by nannies to their charges to keep them from being afraid of the monsters in the night. The monsters are not a lie. The monsters are real. The monsters are already inside the house. The monsters are in the blood and the bone and walls, the monsters are here, the monsters are pursuing the woman through the heather, toward the cliffs overlooking the sea, the monsters are sitting down in the parlor for slices of cake and cups of tea.
Welcome to the gothic horror.