These powerful, predatory images assault us with the stuff of horror: ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, ‘Nosferatu’, reminding us of monsters from nightmares, from medieval paintings of torture and hell.
One of the developments in the representation of witchcraft at the end of the twentieth-century is that the portrayal of witch-hunters moves from approbation to repulsion. In part, this was due to wider cultural movements: a concern for social, gendered and racial justice, and distaste for arbitrary authority.
In an earlier article, we followed the progress of opinion from James I to the Restoration. We saw that in the course of little more than a half-century the centre of the controversy had been considerably shifted: we noted that there was a growing body of intelligent men who discredited the stories of witchcraft and were even inclined to laugh at them.
The gutter mentioned in the title of this section has dual meanings. On the one hand, it is representative of the more literal meaning, designed to conjure images of refuse washed away and hidden in subterranean sewers in this case, critical causal facts omitted for the sake of scholarly expediency.
In an early scene from Mary Barton, Gaskell’s 1848 high-realist novel of class and crime, Mary’s father and a former coworker go to visit a sick worker from Carsons’ mill. Wending their way through the poverty and hopelessness of industrial Manchester, they finally reach his family home, located in a cellar “about one foot below the level of the street” (60).
As a literary phenomenon, the Victorian gothic manifests itself in fin-de-siècle literature both as a subversive supernatural force and as a mechanism for social critique. Envisioning the world as a dark and spiritually turbulent tableau, the fictions of the late-Victorian gothic often depict the city of London as a corrupt urban landscape characterised by a brooding populace and by its horror-filled streets of terror.
In Bram Stoker’s classic vampire tale, ‘Dracula’ (1897), the Count turns and threatens his pursuers, claiming “‘[m]y revenge is just begun! I spread it over centuries, and time is on my side’” (263). The myth of the vampire — and particularly Stoker’s contributions to the myth — serves as an effective metaphor for the very genre of Gothicism in which that myth frequently appears. Stoker’s Count Dracula can change into a bat, a wolf, a pack of rats, or even a cloud of mist.