Gothic figurations of the Other and the Problem of Guilt, Violence and the Lack of Solidarity in Joyce Carol Oates’s "The Accursed" Cover Image

Gotyckie figuracje Innego a problem winy, przemocy i braku solidarności w powieści "Przeklęci" Joyce Carol Oates
Gothic figurations of the Other and the Problem of Guilt, Violence and the Lack of Solidarity in Joyce Carol Oates’s "The Accursed"

Author(s): Magdalena Łachacz
Subject(s): Language and Literature Studies, Studies of Literature, Comparative Study of Literature, Other Language Literature, Theory of Literature
Published by: Ośrodek Badawczy Facta Ficta
Keywords: Joyce Carol Oates;otherness;gothic fiction;new weird;solidarity;guilt
Summary/Abstract: In the chapter, Magdalena Łachacz proposes an in-depth analysis of the spectral characters of the child/woman and the bridegroom. These ghostly spectres make abrupt appearances at critical moments of the narrative set in the the Princeton community during the cusp year of 1905 into 1906 following traumatic and haunting events. The objectice of the introduction chapter is to place the novel within the confines of the American gothic genre with typical gothic motives. This particular genre delivers a disturbing experience with the dark and obscure aspects of American history with particular interest in the institution of slavery and its problems of racial and sexual abuse. In relation to the aesthetics of the American gothic, it is conceivable to associate the specters in Oates’ novel with the demonic protagonists of Charles Brockden Brown’s and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s fictional works—both pivotal writers of the genre. Hence there exists the possibility of looking at the spectre as the representation of the “Other” in typical American gothic oeuvres. Furthermore, one can perceive the relationship between the experiences of the “otherness” and the problem of guilt suffered by the protagonists of the privileged social class. Consequently, the scope of the analysis finds itself engrossed on the issue of the traumatic repressed experiences that may return by republication of postmodern slave narratives. Therefore, the question of language becomes imminent for the gothic-like representation of the figure of the “Other” in Oates’s novel. Nevertheless the text is permeated by cognitive pessimism. “The Accursed” seem to establish, thanks to the gothic convention, an idiosyncratic language capable of expressing the terror of the violent experiences within a community environment where there is a lack of solidarity with the victims. In effect, Oates’s novel can be approached as a step towards the aesthetic characterization of the “Other” in the recounting of the “unspoken crime” which remains the spectre that continues to haunt contemporary American culture.

  • Page Range: 603-622
  • Page Count: 20
  • Publication Year: 2017
  • Language: Polish