By Dale Bailey
When Edgar Allan Poe set down the story of the accursed apartment of herald 1839, he additionally laid the basis for a literary culture that has assumed a long-lasting 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: writers from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Stephen King have taken rooms within the haunted homes of yank fiction. Dale Bailey strains the haunted apartment 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, fiscal, and social ideologies of our state. the writer concludes that the haunted residence has turn into a robust and profoundly subversive image of every little thing that has long past nightmarishly awry within the American Dream.
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Extra info for American Nightmares: The Haunted House Formula in American Popular Fiction
In this respect, the journey to Hill House offers Eleanor possibilities for love and acceptance she has not before experienced. "Journeys end in lovers meeting," she tells herself as she arrives at Hill House (36), and the phrase ultimately becomes a leitmotif, denoting not only Eleanor's loneliness but her vulnerability to the fantasy of emo- June Cleaver in the House of Horrors 35 tional fulfillment which Hill House represents. itable, eventually preferable, alternative to harsh reality" (158) seems unwarranted in light of the tale's bleak denouement with Eleanor's suicide.
And both identify women with the house, often with specific rooms. The Cult of True Womanhood, which flourished in an age of servants and among people wealthy enough to afford them, associated the woman mainly with the lady's salon, emphasizing her social function as an impeccably arrayed icon of her husband's success. The June Cleaver ideology flourished in the two decades following World War II, when domesticity experienced a resurgence as soldiers returned home, displacing women from the work force.
This is the way of life we have fallen into, inadvertently, as though we had fallen into a well and decided that since there was no way out we might as well stay there and set up a chair and a desk and a light of some kind; even though this is our way of life, and the only one we know, it is occasionally bewildering, and perhaps even inexplicable to the sort of person who does not have that swift, accurate conviction that he is going to step on a broken celluloid doll in the dark. I cannot think of a preferable way of life, except one without children and without books, going on soundlessly in an apartment hotel where they do the cleaning for you and send up your meals and all you have to do is lie on a couch and-as I say, I cannot think of a preferable way of life, but then I have had to make a good many compromises, all told.