Gothic Perspectives on Children’s Literature
9 Psychological Gothic: Reflections on Rowling’s Back Stories 187
9 Psychological Gothic: Reflections on Rowling’s Back Stories Kreature’s Tale The psychological gothic, as pointed out in the preceding chapter on Rowl- ing’s political gothic imagination, is a genre that deals primarily with the divided self. It explores interior conflicts resulting from psychic dismem- berment that can shade easily from angst and neurosis into obsession and even madness. In the supernatural gothic genre, such transformations are frequently portrayed in terms of a physical transformation from man into beast (or monster) as in Mary Shelley’s the Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus and R. L. Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Just as fre- quently, however, gothic writers and film makers toy with ambiguous situations that can be interpreted as either psychological or supernatural in nature. The shadow-side of the divided self often eludes detection until it is too late for us or others to mount an effective defense against it. Our dark compulsions can appear in the guise of an unsuspected beast-within or, more terrifying still, in the guise of a reassuring friend, lover, or neighbor. “Com- plicated creatures we are,” writes Madeleine L’Engle, “aware of only the smallest fragment of ourselves” (Walking on Water 131). In a similar vein Lurie Sheck observes, “So much of life is invisible, inscrutable: layers of thoughts, feelings, outward events entwined with secrecies, ambiguities, ambivalences, obscurities, darknesses strongly present even to the one who’s lived it—maybe especially to the one who’s lived it” (Sheck x). The existence of hidden dimensions lurking deep within the psyches...
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