Margaret Oliphant, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Charlotte and Emily Brontë
Carlyle’s ‘Natural Supernaturalism’ or synthesis of idealism and realism is interpreted by Mark Abrams as an immanentizing project. This is questioned in Chapter 12 by analysing ghost stories by women writers who reverse this trajectory to anchor the real in a supernatural cause. They use realism to open a transcendent depth in the material object. Emily Brontë’s lovers in Wuthering Heights seek to burst the limits of the material but are left in a liminal spectrality. Elizabeth Gaskell uses the reality of the supernatural to question the refusal of original sin by rational dissent. Margaret Oliphant’s Dantesque ghost stories establish the supernatural as the truly real positively in ‘A Beleaguered City’ and more problematically in ‘A Library Window’. Finally Charlotte Brontë’s supposedly new psychological Gothic is shown to be wholly traditional and to yoke feminist and theological desires for liberation in an apocalyptic union of body and soul.
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