By Dale Bailey
When Edgar Allan Poe set down the story of the accursed condo of bring in 1839, he additionally laid the basis for a literary culture that has assumed a long-lasting position in American tradition. The condominium of Usher” and its literary progeny haven't lacked for tenants within the century and a part because: writers from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Stephen King have taken rooms within the haunted homes of yank fiction. Dale Bailey lines the haunted apartment story from its origins in English gothic fiction to the paperback potboilers of the current, highlighting the original importance of the home within the household, fiscal, and social ideologies of our state. the writer concludes that the haunted condominium has develop into a strong and profoundly subversive image of every little thing that has long past nightmarishly awry within the American Dream.
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Additional resources for American Nightmares: The Haunted House Formula in American Popular Fiction
3) As in most such tales, a malign intelligence animates Hill House. We don't know the origin of that animating spirit-whether, as Dr. Montague puts it, "its personality was molded by the people who lived here ... or whether it was evil from its start" (70)-but the narrative implies the latter. Eleanor's first impression is that Hill House "seemed somehow to have formed itself, flying together into its own powerful pattern under the hands of its builders, fitting itself into its own construction of lines and angles" (35).
As H. P. Lovecraft notes, the attic chamber sounds more like a "room where a madwoman was once confined" than a nursery (41O). Still, the narrator's identification of the room as a nursery is not without significance. As Linda Wagner-Martin points out, it suggests a "conflation of the roles of child and mother" which highlights the narrator's frustration with her restrictions (54). Here we arrive at the core of the tale, for the narrator's lack of autonomy, and her subversive response to her husband's precepts, reveals the metaphorical richness of the haunted house as Gilman employs it.
W. Jacobs's "The Monkey's Paw," an impulsive wish is granted with dire consequences. We have not read far at all before we begin to suspect that the narrator in fact does inhabit a haunted house. The nursery alone is more than disquieting: the windows are barred, the bed nailed to the floor, the walls marred by "rings and things" (12), and, in the story's most discomfiting detail, the bed frame itself is described as, well, gnawed (34). And then there is the monstrous yellow wallpaper of the title, initially merely an offense to the narrator's good taste but later the object of her intense scrutiny as she begins to suspect that it contains a woman whose entrap- 30 American Nightmares ment reflects her own imprisonment.