Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)

Department

Colby College. English Dept.

Advisor(s)

Cedric Gael Bryant

Second Advisor

Laurie Osborne

Abstract

Although generally dismissed by scholars as being overly sentimental or superstitious, the gothic genre has survived for over four centuries and maintained significant cultural appeal, outlasting the sentimental novel and the travelogue as popular literature. What, then, makes this genre different? What is so special about the gothic?

In my thesis, I examine the evolving cultural appeal of the gothic genre that keeps it attractive and relevant for readers by tracing the gothic text, The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, through its initial inception and its subsequent adaptations. As a novel, The Woman in Black both repeats and revises the gothic genre, revealing which themes and concerns were still relevant in 1983. The theatrical adaptation of The Woman in Black (1987) by Stephen Mallatratt shows how these motifs and anxieties have evolved from the early 1980s to the late 1980s. Finally, James Watkins’ 2012 film adaptation of The Woman in Black further emphasizes the importance and timelessness of Hill’s original subject, the question of what it means to be a good parent.

The gothic genre continuously evolves to express the tacit fears of each generation, examining the extreme consequences of life’s oppositions, retaining its relevance over the ages.

Keywords

The Woman in Black, Susan Hill, Stephen Mallatratt, James Watkins, gothic, feminism

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