Sequestered spaces and defective doors in tales by Collins and Riddell


  • Ilse M. Bussing Universidad de Costa Rica



Gothic, Literature, Architecture, Victorian house




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).

Biografia do Autor

Ilse M. Bussing, Universidad de Costa Rica

Ilse M. Bussing holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature, fromthe College of William and Mary, a Master’s in Latin AmericanLiterature, from the University of Costa Rica, and a PhD in EnglishLiterature, from the University of Edinburgh. Her Ph.D. thesis, TheHaunted House in Mid-to-Late Victorian Gothic Fiction, explores theconvergence of architecture and social history in a specific site, thusrevealing one of her main research interests, the interdisciplinarystudy of space in life and fiction. Her publications focus mostly on the Gothic. Currently, she is a lecturer in English and ComparativeLiterature at the University of Costa Rica.






The Gothic in Europe