Date of Award

1992

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English

Department

English

First Advisor

Ralph Tutt

Abstract

This thesis compares and contrasts Biblical images in Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1764) and Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood (1949), seeking to illuminate their common participation in Judeo-Christian philosophy (referred to herein as the Jehovah Imperative) and in the tradition of Gothic fiction. Although both books center on a religious hero who defies an "irreligious" authority, and both are resolved when a major character is murdered by a legitimate legal agent, historical and feminist perspectives will show: (1) the ways in which Walpole's Otranto manipulated Biblical images in favor of eighteenth-century Protestant ambition and the furtherance of the father-son inheritance chain begun in the Bible, and (2) the formula by which O'Connor's Wise Blood reverses the Gothic/Biblical "realities" to expose that manipulation in a "grotesque" mirror-image. Examining those acts of brutality -- specifically incest and blood sacrifice -- long legitimized by Biblical texts, and tracing their historical sexual dynamics to an inter-testamentary economic paradigm, this thesis will look at how those biases were fixed in place by the first Gothic novel, and transferred through history by similarly biased lexicological and critical exegeses, invisibly maintaining the social, economic and political sovereignty of the white Protestant (Gothicized) male in the western world.

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