Essay: Space & Hysteria in The Yellow Wallpaper and Dora: A Case of Hysteria

‘I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse perhaps to be locked in […]’[1] muses Virginia Woolf in A Room of One’s Own; an anxiety of space that arises amidst its advocacy for ‘a woman [to] have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction’[2]. Although neither are writers of fiction, the women protagonists of two texts, Sigmund Freud’s Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, are subject to Woolf’s spatial anxiety. Both are locked in and out of literal and metaphorical feminine spaces, acknowledged by feminist critics Gilbert and Gubar as ‘parallel confinements in texts, houses and […] female bodies’[3]. This study will analyse how in their texts – Freud’s a ‘case history’[4] of ‘petite hystérie’ (Freud, p.19) for ‘publication in a strictly scientific medical journal’ (Freud, p.4), Gilman’s a first-person fictional account of a woman’s experience of ‘a slight hysterical tendency’[5] – the writers’ portrayal of these spaces infers the locking in and out of their protagonists. Finally, this study aims to determine, as Woolf wonders, which is ‘worse’: to be locked in, or locked out? Continue reading “Essay: Space & Hysteria in The Yellow Wallpaper and Dora: A Case of Hysteria”

Essay: Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber & The Uncanny – An Applied Analysis

bloody-chamber-blogThe stories in Angela Carter’s short-story collection The Bloody Chamber belong to ‘that class of the terrifying which leads back to something long known to us, once very familiar’[1]. These words, however, are not from a critic of Carter’s but from the father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud in his essay ‘The Uncanny’; yet how strangely they seem to mirror the figures that cast the ominous shadows of Carter’s stories. Whilst Carter and her champions continue to assert that these are ‘new stories, not retellings’[2], all of the stories interlace and elucidate threads from fairy-tales and folklore, from Beauty and the Beast to Puss in Boots, and they inevitably, as Freud informs us of the Uncanny, lead us back to something once familiar: the fairy-tales of our infanthood. This study will centre on the three werewolf tales that close the collection and ‘work and rework the story of Red Riding Hood’[3], ‘The Werewolf’, ‘The Company of Wolves’, and ‘Wolf-Alice’[4], and apply Freud’s Uncanny as a theory of analysis to illuminate the dark shadows and dangerous spaces of Carter’s stories. Continue reading “Essay: Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber & The Uncanny – An Applied Analysis”