Bluebeard Gothic

Bluebeard Gothic: Jane Eyre and its Progeny

Heta Pyrhönen
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2ttktv
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  • Book Info
    Bluebeard Gothic
    Book Description:

    Using psychoanalysis as the primary model of textual analysis,Bluebeard Gothicfocuses on the conjunction of religion, sacrifice, and scapegoating to provide an original interpretation of a canonical and frequently-studied text.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8674-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-20)

    In the ʹBluebeardʹ tale a young woman marries a rich blue-bearded widower. He forbids her to enter his locked chamber, proclaiming that disobedience will result in her death. The defiant wife enters the room, finding there her murdered predecessors. Frightened, she drops the key into a pool of blood. Because the key is permanently stained, Bluebeard finds out about her disobedience. He is about to execute her, but she is saved in the nick of time. In a related tale, ʹThe Robber Bridegroom,ʹ a father promises his daughter to a rich suitor. The bridegroom invites his fiancée to visit his...

  5. 1 Jane Eyre as a ʹBluebeardʹ Tale
    (pp. 21-64)

    ʹI lingered in the long passage to which this led, separating the front and back rooms of the third story – narrow, low and dim, with only one little window at the far end, and looking, with its two rows of small black doors all shut, like a corridor in some Bluebeardʹs castleʹ (JE 91). Thus describes Jane Eyre her first eerie impressions of Thornfieldʹs third storey. When a little later ʹa curious laugh – distinct, formal, mirthlessʹ (JE 91) echoes through the space, her apprehensions are increased. In keeping with the tradition of Bluebeard Gothic, Janeʹs new home contains...

  6. 2 Testifying to Bluebeardʹs Atrocities: The Woman (Author) as Witness
    (pp. 65-116)

    All variants of ʹBluebeardʹ include the heroineʹs threshold experience of grisly revelation; and this moment, in Hermanssonʹs words, ʹsolves immediately the supposed mystery of the previous women who ventured into Bluebeardʹs castle. In this interpretive instant, Bluebeardʹs true nature is also disclosed, but the role of the heroine is merely to read it and to realise that this is now her story also; if she was ever ʺoutsideʺ Bluebeardʹs plot, then she is no longerʹ (45). In Perraultʹs ʹLa Barbe Bleueʹ the effect of this scene is tremendous: ʹShe was sure that she would die of fright, and the key...

  7. 3 Romance, Perversion, and Bluebeard Gothic
    (pp. 117-157)

    A strong reason for the continued success ofJane Eyreis the passionate love story between Jane and Rochester. Although Jane cannot and will not accept a marriage based on inequality, deception, and exploitation, in later spin-offs romantic love has eclipsed the bookʹs spotlight on gender issues. Daphne du Maurierʹs best-sellingRebecca, published in 1938, ninety-one years afterJane Eyre, has frequently been named as one such forgetful adaptation. In this novel, an orphaned girl like Jane falls in love with an enigmatic, haunted landowner whose estate contains a terrible secret. Unlike Jane, however, once this protagonist finds out about...

  8. 4 Faith, Ritual, and Sacrifice: Rewriting the Religious Foundation of Jane Eyre
    (pp. 158-196)

    The religious associations of ʹBluebeardʹ have typically been linked with what Maria Tatar (Secrets1) calls the ʹgreat mythical significance of prohibition,ʹ that is, with the biblical story of the Fall. Meredid Puw Davies (Tale39) observes that this tale echoes the book of Genesis. Just as God threatens the first couple with death if they disobey Him, so Bluebeard warns his wife of death if she visits his forbidden chamber. Bluebeardʹs understanding of the book of Genesis is paternalistic and misogynistic. In his view, when Eve gives into temptation and eats the fruit, she drags Adam and all humanity...

  9. 5 Farewell, Charlotte Brontë! Angela Carterʹs ʹBluebeardʹ Tales and the Anxiety of Influence
    (pp. 197-236)

    ʹOutside, above, in the already burning air, see! the angel of death roosts on the roof-treeʹ (FRAM, 317). With this exhortation ends one of Angela Carterʹs many ʹBluebeardʹ stories, ʹThe Fall River Axe Murdersʹ (1985). In this short story the angel of death is associated with Lizzie Bordenʹs mother, who was subject to ʹfits of sudden, wild, inexplicable rageʹ and who, the narrator wages, might have ʹtaken the hatchet to Old Borden on her own accountʹ (310). Lizzieʹs gradual identification with the mother leads to a violent escape from her horrible father. She kills him, thus replacing the male relatives...

  10. Conclusion: A Way Out
    (pp. 237-242)

    Tatar observes that ʹone of the fatal effects of the Bluebeard story has to do with its habit of inspiring fascination and imitation rather than intervention and adaptationʹ (ʹBluebeardʹsʹ 18). One of the guiding ideas of this book is the notion that the particular discursive layer which an author emphasizes has a decisive shaping influence on her or his adaptation. It is the chosen discursive register that largely accounts for the working of what I call the Brontë effect on a given adaptation ofJane Eyreas Bluebeard Gothic. When an author focuses on the symbolic register, her or his...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 243-260)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 261-272)
  13. Index
    (pp. 273-277)