Use of the Female Gothic in Beloved Essay

Use of the Female Gothic in Beloved Essay

Length: 2974 words (8.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Use of the Female Gothic in Beloved

      Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved is a slave narrative, but it encompasses much more than slavery.  Unlike many slave narratives that focus on the male perception of slavery, Morrison's novel portrays slavery from a feminine point of view.  The main characters are Sethe, her daughter, Denver, and the mysterious Beloved.  In the beginning of the novel, Sethe and her daughter live alone in 124, a house that is haunted by the ghost of Sethe's first daughter. Sethe's two older boys, "Howard and Buglar, had run away by the time they were thirteen years old. Soon after the sons have fled, Baby Suggs, Denver's grandmother, dies.  The novel centers on Sethe's past, in particular, the death of her first daughter.  This event dominates the book and the action of the novel revolves around this terrible incident.  In Beloved, Toni Morrison utilizes characteristics of the female gothic novel such as mothering, living within enclosed spaces, and the doubling of characters, coupled with dilemmas involving memory and repression, to address the issue of slavery.


Beloved illustrates the notion of the gothic mother through the character of Sethe.  Her motherly love is turned into a horrific image of mercy, one that many find difficult to understand. At the time, slaves were valued as property.  They were bred as if they were horses, with their young snatched away from them, often at birth, and no chance of having a family.  Many children were "permanently separated from any other family members, [and] did not know if or when they would ever see their mother[s] again" (King 527).  Sethe describes her own childhood experience with the woman she knew as her mother and it is typical of the experi...

... middle of paper ...

...illions of lives and Morrison gives those lives names and faces.  The narrative form is an effective tool to bring the reality of slavery and all its misery into everyday life.


Works Cited

Goddu, Teresa A. Gothic America. New York: Columbia UP, 1997.

King, Wilma. "Within the Professional Household: Slave Children in the Antebellum South." The Historian 59.3 (1997): 523-540.

Kristeva, Julia. Powers of Horror. New York: Columbia UP, 1982.

Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Penguin Group, 1987.

Samuels, Wilfred and Clenora Hudson-Weems. Ed. Toni Morrison. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990.

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. The Coherence of Gothic Conventions. New York: Methuen, 1976.

Smith, Valerie. "Circling the Subject: History and Narrative in Beloved." Toni Morrison. Henry Gates, Jr. and K.A. Appiah. Ed. New York: Amistad Press, 1993.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Beloved: The Haunting Past of America Essay

-      Some people cannot remember anything for weeks, months, or even years.  This condition is called amnesia, "the loss of memory as a result of brain injury or deterioration, shock, fatigue, senility, drug use, alcoholism, anesthesia, illness, or psychoneurotic reaction."1[1]  Especially, when amnesia is a psychoneurotic reaction, it can cover even the patient's entire life.  Toni Morrison, in an interview, said that not only an individual but also an entire nation could be diagnosed as (psychoneurotic) amnesia.  Discussing Beloved, she explained what she calls a "national amnesia." I thought this [Beloved] has got to be the least read of all the books I'd written because it is about...   [tags: Toni Morrison, Beloved Essays]

Powerful Essays
2841 words (8.1 pages)

Mary Shelley´s Frankenstein, an Example of Gothic Romance Essay

- Mary Shelley’s world renowned book, “Frankenstein”, is a narrative of how Victor Frankenstein, a brilliant chemist, succeeds in creating a living being. Although Frankenstein’s creation is benevolent to begin with, he soon turns murderous after being mistreated by humans. His anger turns towards Frankenstein, as he was the one who brought him into the world that shuns him. The Monster then spends the rest of the story trying to make his creator’s life as miserable as his own. This novel is an excellent example of the Gothic Romantic style of literature, as it features some core Gothic Romantic elements such as remote and desolate settings, a metonymy of gloom and horror, and women in distre...   [tags: Gloom, Creation, Mistreatment]

Powerful Essays
717 words (2 pages)

Use of Violence in Beloved by Toni Morrison Essay

- As much as society does not want to admit, violence serves as a form of entertainment. In media today, violence typically has no meaning. Literature, movies, and music, saturated with violence, enter the homes of millions everyday. On the other hand, in Beloved, a novel by Toni Morrison, violence contributes greatly to the overall work. The story takes place during the age of the enslavement of African-Americans for rural labor in plantations. Sethe, the proud and noble protagonist, has suffered a great deal at the hand of schoolteacher....   [tags: Beloved, Toni Morrison]

Powerful Essays
675 words (1.9 pages)

The Role of Horror in the Gothic Writing Essay

- English literature in the Romantic period can be characterised as emphasising on free and natural utterance of authors’ feelings as the reaction toward the world. Romantic authors stress on the influence of feelings over rationality and mind over body—they admire the potential power of human’s mind to engage in the external world emotionally, reflect on it and envisage a spiritual and idealistic one through imagination. In Gothic writing, an important genre in Romantic literature, authors try to evoke readers’ fear and anxiety, cultivate their sensibility and explore human’s mind through presenting horrible myths and supernatural....   [tags: Romanticism, Gothic Writing]

Powerful Essays
1699 words (4.9 pages)

Motherhood Under Slavery in Tony Morrison’s Beloved Essays

- Tony Morrison’s novel Beloved, explores how slavery effects of the lives of former slaves. Morrison focuses more specifically on how the women in these situations are affected. One of the main areas affected in the lives of these women is motherhood. By describing the experiences of the mothers in her story (primarily Baby Suggs and Sethe) Morrison shows how slavery warped and shaped motherhood, and the relationships between mothers and children of the enslaved. In Beloved the slavery culture separates mothers and children both physically and emotionally....   [tags: Beloved Essays]

Powerful Essays
3170 words (9.1 pages)

Use of Title in Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton Essay

- Use of Title in Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton, takes place in1946 near the small rural town of Ixopo in the smaller village of Ndotsheni. The main character is Stephen Kumalo, a native priest who sets out on a mission to find his family. He receives a letter from a fellow priest, Msimangu, telling him his younger sister is ill. Kumalo decides he must go to Johannesburg to help his sister. He also hopes to find his only son and see if his brother is well because they too have gone away to Johannesburg....   [tags: Cry, The Beloved Country Essays]

Powerful Essays
935 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on Use of Flashbacks in Toni Morrison’s Novel, Beloved

- Use of Flashbacks in Toni Morrison’s Novel, Beloved Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved swims like a garden pond full of minnows with thoughts and memories of days gone by. Each memory is like a drop of water, and when one person brings up enough drops, a trickle of a stream is formed. The trickles make their way down the shallow slopes and inclines, pushing leaves, twigs, and other barriers out of the way, leaving small bits of themselves behind so their paths can be traced again. There is a point, a vertex, a lair, where many peoples streams unite in a valley, in the heart of a pebble lined brook, and it is here that their trickles of days gone by fuse with each other, and float hand in hand u...   [tags: Toni Morrison Beloved]

Powerful Essays
827 words (2.4 pages)

Gothic Architecture Essay

- Architecture has always been an integral part of the society and its culture. It not only defines the space of the community that it participates in but it also shapes the community’s place in history. Moreover, historians all over the world have found architecture playing a key role while they study the communities in time periods. Architecture helps the historian decipher the civilization's daily life and the values they hold. The historians are able to decipher as such by looking at the recurring structural feature and ornamental feature of certain buildings of certain time period....   [tags: Gothic Cathedrals]

Powerful Essays
2244 words (6.4 pages)

Gothic review Essay

- ‘To understand the chronicles they must be read as gay’ , at least this is the incredibly bold statement made by George Haggerty in his chapter on Anne Rice and the Queering of Culture in his book Queer Gothic. There is no denying that Anne Rice’s Vampires have a lot to do with homosexuality and Haggerty’s highlighting this is in no way a new criticism, but the claim that is must be read as gay is entirely dismissive of the many other sexual paradigms that exist within The Vampire Chronicles. To begin with, his referral of Lestat as a ‘gay predator’ seems unfair in its definition....   [tags: Queer Gothic, Anne Rice, ]

Powerful Essays
1046 words (3 pages)

Beloved by Morrison Essay

- Beloved by Morrison Beloved is the tale of an escaped slave, Sethe, who is trying to achieve true freedom. Unfortunately, though she is no longer in servitude to a master, she is chained to her "hainted" past. Morrison effectively depicts the shattered lives of Sethe, her family, fellow former slaves, and the community through a unique writing style. The narrative does not follow a traditional, linear plot line. The reader discovers the story of Sethe through fragments from the past and present that Morrison reveals and intertwines in a variety of ways....   [tags: Morrison Beloved Book Review]

Powerful Essays
1161 words (3.3 pages)