By Dale Bailey
When Edgar Allan Poe set down the story of the accursed residence of bring in 1839, he additionally laid the basis for a literary culture that has assumed an enduring position in American tradition. The condominium of Usher” and its literary progeny haven't lacked for tenants within the century and a part for the reason that: writers from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Stephen King have taken rooms within the haunted homes of yankee fiction. Dale Bailey strains the haunted residence story from its origins in English gothic fiction to the paperback potboilers of the current, highlighting the original importance of the home within the household, monetary, and social ideologies of our kingdom. the writer concludes that the haunted apartment has turn into a robust and profoundly subversive image of every thing that has long gone nightmarishly awry within the American Dream.
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Additional resources for American Nightmares: The Haunted House Formula in American Popular Fiction
Though she is described only in a domestic setting, she at least has freedom of movement within the house and grounds. A "perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, [who1hopes for no better profession" (1718), Jennie functions both as an ironic foil to the narrator and an extension of John's masculine authority. In his absence, she enforces his decrees; in his presence, she serves his needs. However, a careful reading of the story suggests that she is not entirely comfortable with this role. She inhabits a liminal space, existing wholly neither in the realm of John's patriarchal authority nor in the feminized environment of the narrator.
Eleanor's first impression is that Hill House "seemed somehow to have formed itself, flying together into its own powerful pattern under the hands of its builders, fitting itself into its own construction of lines and angles" (35). Still, even a cursory overview of its history is enough to suggest the true nature of Hill House. Once again, it seems, we have stumbled into the haunted mansion of "The Yellow Wallpaper," the vast corrupt palace of the patriarchy itself, a point subtly reinforced by the very architecture of the place.
The nature of this superstition later becomes clear. Roderick Usher believes that the "home of his forefathers" is self-aware: The condition of the sentience had been here, he imagined, fulfilled in the method of collocation of these stones-in the order of their arrangement, as well as in that of the many fungi which overspread them, and of the decayed trees which stood around-above all in the long undisturbed endurance of this arrangement. (408) An obscure conjunction of architecture and geometry has endowed the house with a malign will and intelligence utterly distinct from any merely human revenant.