Southern Gothic script in "A rose for Emily" Y "Kill a Mockingbird"

Southern Gothic is an American subgenre of the Gothic style, probably more familiar to the Brontë sisters of Victorian England. (No, we are not talking about Hot Topic here.) Like its European progenitor, the Southern Gothic style draws heavily on the supernatural, only with less “O Heathcliffe!” and more “Oh no, racism!” (Unlike Gothic novels, Southern Gothic novels are more interested in uncovering social crimes and injustices than in being gloomy for the sake of sadness.) Grotesque elements are common to both genders as well, but they can take the form of actual bodily blood or just extremely flawed characters that are somehow tolerable enough to remain interesting. (See also: “O Heathcliffe!”)

William Faulkner is known to have been especially good with the Southern Gothic style, and many American children have read his creepy and disgusting “A Rose for Emily” since high school. This tale, which begins with a funeral and ends with the discovery of a body from decades ago, recalls the life of Miss Emily Grierson, the recently deceased town spinster. Turns out her father was a bit overbearing, and while we don’t know if there was any abuse involved, let’s just say she wasn’t able to break her curfew until she was 35. When the old man finally meets his creator, Emily refuses to admit he’s dead or leave the house for three days, which wouldn’t be so creepy if his decomposing body wasn’t in it yet.

The even scarier part, however, is that this is not the same corpse that appears in Emily’s house at the end of the book; That one belonged to her one-time, short-term boyfriend, who invited her over, had dinner with her, and tried to get rid of her a few years after his father’s death. Boy, did he pick the wrong woman. Although Emily is clearly insane, her father’s mistreatment and the resulting psychological damage nonetheless make her an understanding character. So understanding, in fact, that the townspeople help cover up the murder by spreading lime around their house when it starts to smell. (YOU WILL NOT BE MY NEIGHBOR!) So let’s recap how “A Rose for Emily” compares to a Southern Goth novel. Death? Check. Injustice? Check. The grotesque? Double verification. A terrifying inmate with a mysterious past in a seemingly haunted house? Mate.

Now that we have an idea of ​​what gender is, let’s do a little comparison. One of America’s most widely read and loved Southern Gothic novels is To Kill a Mockingbird, which chronicles Scout and Jem Finch’s shy childhood interactions with local social outcast, Boo Radley. This book may not sound particularly gothic to you, especially if you grew up wanting to befriend Jem and Scout (and possibly even Boo), or have Atticus as a father, but technically speaking, it fits. Let’s take a look at those criteria again.

  1. The supernatural. Granted, Mockingbird isn’t exactly supernatural, but narrated through the eyes of a terrified six-year-old, it might as well be. A scary guy locked in his house for decades because he probably stabbed his father in the leg with scissors? It’s not natural, that’s for sure. The only thing keeping Boo from becoming a full-blown Emily Grierson is the fact that she doesn’t hide any bodies that we know of.
  2. Injustice. Hi boy! Almost every character in the novel is at least somewhat racist, including our lovable narrator from time to time. The plot centers on the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man who is wrongly accused, and ultimately convicted, of raping a white woman, who made up the story to hide her crush on Tom from an abusive father. When Tom tries to escape from prison, he is shot no less than seventeen times. You know, just in case.
  3. The grotesque. While To Kill a Mockingbird isn’t gory, some of its characters can be downright gross. Ms. Dubose is a great example of a grotesque character; She is a humorless bigoted old woman with an unnecessarily possessive attitude towards her camellias, but as we later find out that she is trying to kick a nasty morphine addiction, we end up feeling a bit bad for her. Sometimes all it takes is a drug habit or an authoritarian parent.

So while the two stories may seem very different at first glance, they share a particular combination of Gothic elements that allows them to explore unglamorous the social and cultural issues of the South, be it racism and bigotry or simply the obsolescence of the “Belle of the World.” South “approach to dating. You decide which one is scarier.

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