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Common Elements In Elizabeth Gaskell's The Old Nurse's Story And In Christian Rossetti's Goblin Market

1292 words - 5 pages

Aside from the five themes of Democracy, Gender, Culture, Empire and Industrialization, the sixth theme, Victorian Gothic, provides just as much of an overview of the Victorian time period. This new theme appears in Elizabeth Gaskell’s short story, The Old Nurse’s Story and Christina Rossetti's poem Goblin Market. Both works illustrate common elements of Gothic literature, such as; old houses, mystery, horror, ghost, fantasy creatures, the unknown and oppression. Both author’s background stories provide insight to their reason behind their writings. Elizabeth Gaskell was a minister's wife that began to write when her only son died to cope with her depression. She wrote to “critique society and promote social reform” (Norton 1260). Christina Rossetii was a Victorian author that was strictly involved with the Catholic Church and had a high moral code. Her code was so strict she never married again and lived a quiet life. This paper argues that The Old Nurse’s Story and the Goblin Market provide important representation of Victorian Gothic literature by utilizing Gothic themes.
The Gothic addresses the fact that we cannot fend off the irrationality of our minds. Gothic literature departs from the traditional nature of the world to explore the unknown. There are six literary and culture elements of Gothic Fiction that include; castles, Catholicism, sexual oppression, wilderness, the supernatural, and the grotesque. The Victorians were known for their prudish ways, strict prudish moral code, imperial empire, gender roles, and technological advances and scientific discoveries. These attributes provide grounds for Gothic literature to flourish. Elizabeth Gaskell and Christina Rossetti's used some of gothic elements such as; the supernatural, the mysterious, the grotesques, and oppression to provide a sense of terror to the audience while still conveying a message.
Gaskell’s short story The Old Nurse Story addresses the woman’s role issue in the Victorian period. In this time period women were oppressed by men and played a minute role in society. Gaskell utilizes suspense, and the supernatural to convey her critique on the gender issue. Gaskell brings mystery and suspense to the story by having the narrator as an old nurse telling the story to a group of children. The nurse tells the about how she was an orphan living in an old haunted manor. She describes the manor as “great and stately house, with many trees close around it, so close that in some places their branches dragged the walls when the wind blew; and some hung broken down...”( Gaskell 1262). The hallway of the house was “dark and gloomy” because it lacked candle light (Gaskell 1263). Gaskell's detailed description of the menacing manor and use of dark and light imagery sets up the suspenseful storyline. Along with the large and dark house, events that defy rationality begin to take place. On stormy nights the nurse would hear organ music play. Whenever she asked who was playing the music...

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