Sequestered spaces and defective doors in tales by Collins and Riddell

Ilse M. Bussing




In nineteenth-century texts the Victorian home is not merely asetting for supernatural activity—it is the protagonist. This articleconsiders how architecture engendered and shaped hauntedspace within Gothic texts by focusing on a single feature—the door—whose symbolic charge has been widely discussedby critics. However, instead of focusing on psychoanalyticor feminist notions commonly attached to this element, thisarticle considers architectural manuals of the day in order to“read” spatial and cultural implications of the door in Victorianhouseholds, arguing that an excessive concern for privacy andconcealment in life translates easily into Gothic fiction, in theform of spatial anxiety and infiltration. The discussion centerson two literary texts: The Dead Secret (1857) by Wilkie Collinsand The Open Door by Charlotte Riddell (1882).


Gothic; Literature; Architecture; Victorian house


Copyright (c) 2012 Ilse M. Bussing

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