By Ruth Bienstock Anolik
The Gothic mode, in general preoccupied via questions of distinction and otherness, always imagines the opposite as a resource of ugly horror. The 16 severe essays during this assortment research the ways that these being affected by psychological and actual diseases are refigured as different, and the way they're alleged to be substantial. jointly, the essays spotlight the Gothic inclination to symbolize all diseases as visibly mammoth, even these, similar to psychological affliction, which have been invisible. mockingly, the opposite additionally turns into a pitiful determine, usually evoking empathy. This exploration of sickness and incapacity represents a robust addition to Gothic reports.
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Additional info for Demons of the Body and Mind: Essays on Disability in Gothic Literature
The use of this deformity indicates that each is degenerate and socially outcast: Devil Bug as a member of the lower classes, the Jew as an ethnic and religious outsider. 2 Given a mid-century cultural milieu that believed, as R. W. Tamplin articulated in 1846, that crooked spines “generally occur[red] in weak and unhealthy children,” those who were “already predisposed, from any slight causality, to diseased action” (204), it is no surprise that Lippard heightens the visual horror of his Gothic plot by providing his novel’s most threatening characters with quickly recognizable hunchbacks.
As the proprietor of Monk Hall’s underground den of sin, Devil Bug’s substantiates this belief. He spreads society’s moral blight from the bottom up. With sinister joy and what David Reynolds’s calls “gleeful evil” (xxiii), Devil Bug purveys debauchery, incest, rape and murder to Philadelphia’s lawyers, doctors and even its “judges from the bench” (Lippard 55). Those partaking of Devil Bug’s ﬁendish hospitality include “demure parson[s]” (55), enlightened “poets,” upstanding “clerks,” young “hopeful sons,” reﬁned and “distinguished millionaire[s],” and even “reputable married men” with “trustful wives,” (56), all drinking to various degrees of “unconscious intoxication” (55).
Lippard uses the developing strength of Anderson’s backbone to indicate his moral growth and hard-won self-possession. Anderson’s initial resolve weakens when faced with the incarnation of sin, and his spine’s “ﬁrmness” (74) crumbles at the sight of Devil Bug’s “unsightly shoulders” (51) hunched over as if “an omen of death” (74). However, as soon as Anderson learns of his sister’s ruin and deﬁlement within the hellish halls of Devil Bug’s lair, he transforms from a “quivering” (567) youth into a righteously strong American man whose “stern and erect” (149) backbone transforms him into a “towering ...