Annotated Bib #2: The Dual Nature/Roles of Male Protectors UPDATED

Ellis, Kate Ferguson. The contested castle: Gothic novels and the subversion of domestic ideology. University of Illinois Press, 1989.

In this book, Ellis explores domestic ideology, specifically the imprisoning nature of domesticity and violence towards women in the family. She equates the castles of Gothic novels with failed homes permeated with danger and enemies scheming for entry into the fortress to extract their revenge. Ellis looks at a shift in the domestic ideology, paying particular attention to how this change affects women. She first explored ideas about this new domestic ideology in an article ten years earlier; however, this book has stood the test of time and has been referenced by scholars ever since. This text will be helpful in examining failed patriarchy, such as bad fathers like Manfred from The Caste of Otranto or flawed male protectors like Monsieur Pierre de la Motte from The Romance of the Forest, for the book specifically considers the works of Walpole and Radcliffe.

L. Andrew Cooper. “Gothic Threats: The Role of Danger in the Critical Evaluation of The Monk and The Mysteries of Udolpho.Gothic Studies, vol. 8, no. 2, 2006, pp. 18-34. Literature Online (LION), Accessed 6 April 2022.

In this article, Cooper looks at four “threats” of Gothic literature to society, ones that have the potential to disrupt the social norms. The first two threats target young adults and gender norms, while the latter two evoke superstition and revolution. Although Cooper chiefly references Lewis’ The Monk and Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho, his insights on Gothic literature as a whole, but in particular those pertaining to gender norms, will be useful in crafting an argument about the new domestic ideology of the eighteenth century. To open the discussion on Gothicism’s threat to gender norms, Cooper draws upon Ellis to set the stage for his claims, showing how important Ellis’ The Contested Castle is to any discussion on eighteenth-century domestic ideology.

Perry, Ruth. Novel Relations: The Transformation of Kinship in English Literature and Culture, 1748-1818. Cambridge University Press, 2004. ProQuest Ebook Central, Accessed 6 April 2022.

Perry picks up Ellis’ idea with an interdisciplinary approach, drawing upon both history and anthropology in addition to her literary analysis. Perry conducts her research between the works of Samuel Richardson and Jane Austen, noting a shift in familial relationships both real and fictional caused by a new understanding of what the meaning of family entails, one that puts an emphasis on marriage rather than kin. This change in ideas alters the male’s perspective of women and places new burdens upon them as a result. Perry counts Ellis among her extensive bibliography, noting her insights on the function of the Church and Catholicism in Gothic novels as well as indicating Ellis’ claims about the idea of the home in Gothic literature as the foundation for her own concept of the genre’s “terror of incest.” This book is an essential read among the modern scholarship about the eighteenth-century ideas of the domestic and presents a more wholistic survey of literature of the period, rather than focusing on the Gothic as Ellis does.

Shaffer, Julie. “Familial love, incest, and female desire in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century British women’s novels.” Criticism, vol. 41, no. 1, 1999, pp. 67-99. Literature Online (LION), Accessed 6 April 2022.

In this article, Shaffer investigates the nature of the Gothic and sentimental novels through familialization and incest. Her discussion particularly looks at the relationship between father-figures and daughters and how the relationship can be disrupted or at the very least display a potential for disruption. While she principally utilizes Elizabeth Helme’s Louisa; or, the Cottage on the Moor and Sarah Sheriffe’s Correlia as source material, Shaffer often makes reference to other major authors of the period (e.g., Walpole, Radcliffe, Burney). Likewise, Shaffer draws upon a wide variety of scholarship to craft her argument, showing the larger conversation that has taken place about the correlation between familialization and incest. Shaffer cites Ellis as having marked this theme as conventional of Gothic literature, and places Ellis’ claim for a shift in domestic ideology as central to understanding the genre.


One thought on “Annotated Bib #2: The Dual Nature/Roles of Male Protectors UPDATED”

  1. Hi Serena, this describes well Ellis’s influence on the discussion of Gothic novels and domesticity. Choices and annotations seem to be on the money. I was hoping for 3 sources apart from the foundational text. Could you add one more, to make it 1+3? Thanks, DM


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