By Dale Bailey
When Edgar Allan Poe set down the story of the accursed residence of bring in 1839, he additionally laid the root for a literary culture that has assumed an enduring position in American tradition. The apartment of Usher” and its literary progeny haven't lacked for tenants within the century and a part due to the fact that: writers from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Stephen King have taken rooms within the haunted homes of yank fiction. Dale Bailey lines the haunted condominium story from its origins in English gothic fiction to the paperback potboilers of the current, highlighting the original value of the home within the family, financial, and social ideologies of our country. the writer concludes that the haunted condominium has develop into a robust and profoundly subversive image of every 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
In the Greek myth, Narcissus is enchanted by the beauty of his reflected image in a still pool. In the contemporary haunted house tale, the ravaged selfimage which enchants the protagonist is at the same time a reflection of the corrupt culture which has shaped her. Certainly this is the case in The Haunting of Hill House. Nothing exciting has ever happened to Eleanor Vance apart from a single remarkable incident when she was twelve; shortly after her father's death, a rain of stones fell intermittently on her house for three days.
Rather, they graft a number of new characteristics to Walpole's gothic template. The nature of these innovations differs in each case-neither Poe nor Hawthorne produced a mature example of the haunted house tale-but taken together they produce the formula we see in mature manifestations in so many of their paperback descendants. Most obviously, and perhaps most significantly, both Poe and Hawthorne displace the supernatural focus of the text from the figure of the ghost-the revenant spirit of a human being-to the house.
When Americans Ned and Mary Boyne purchase Lyng, Mary discovers the truth of the legend: her husband disappears with a mysterious visitor-"a slightly built man" later identified as Bob Elwell (62), a victim of her husband's unscrupulous business practices. Elwell committed suicide sometime after the Boynes purchased Lyng; apparently he has returned to exact his revenge. ' Richard Kaye, Janet Ruth Heller, and Dale Bachman Flynn see the story as a metaphor for a crumbling 20 American Nightmares marriage.