The Secret Meaning Of Ghost Stories


    When night comes, there is nothing better than to be frightened by the good old horrific ghost story. No one appreciates this more than MR James, who wrote many terrible stories about the paranormal in the world specifically so that they can be read on the eve of Christmas.

    Men’s works

    However, classical mystical stories of James allowed to strengthen one more aspect of this sphere – that it completely belongs to men. James, an avid bachelor, was the rector of the Cambridge Royal College, where he vigorously opposed the adoption of female students in this institution. As a result, he went to Eton, his first exclusively male college. Therefore it is not surprising that women rarely appear in his stories. When it comes to the supernatural, also immediately recalled Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Oliver Onions, Sheridan Le Fanu and others – all men. In recent years, a series of books have been published, the authors of which are exclusively women. Novella Gillian Flynn “Adults” tells of a false psychopath, a difficult teenager and a house in which, apparently, the evil spirit lives. When you read this work, there is a feeling that someone threw an ice icicle behind your collar. The first novel by Lorna Gibb “The History of the Ghost” describes in an entertaining way the life of a Victorian specialist in supernatural sessions, and the book “Raw Blood”, written by Catriona Ward, tells the gothic story of a damned family.

    Women’s works

    In the book Kate Moss “The daughter of a taxidermist,” the story of ghosts is mixed with historical mysticism. Louise Welsh and Audrey Niffenegger, who both wrote their own “otherworldly” works, became editors of the anthologies “Ghost: 100 stories to be read with light” and “Ghost: A collection of ghost stories” in which female authors are widely represented. Well, Susan Hill, who has long established herself in this genre as the book “Woman in Black,” has published a collection of short stories, with which she proved that she is still the queen of ghouls and ghouls.

    The First Revolution

    But it is interesting in this case that the world has not seen anything new. According to some scientific assessments, in the 19th century, at the height of the popularity of the genre, women created about seventy percent of ghost stories published in American and British magazines. The names of most of these writers (Amelia Edwards, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Charlotte Riddell, Mary Louise Molesworth) have long since sunk into oblivion, while others (Edith Wharton, Edith Nesbit) are still remembered by people through their other works.

    The Strongest Example

    In the stories of James and the company, most often the protagonist-man discovers that his mental faculties and scientific ideas were challenged by a supernatural phenomenon. In works written by women, when a sudden noise is heard in the night, it is definitely the writer who is beating her head about the rigid definition of her role in society.

    For the first time in the seventies, critics began to appreciate how the question of sex began to influence ghost stories, finding incredible subtexts in the stories that women wrote. One of the classic examples – the book “Yellow Wallpaper”, written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, where the unnamed storyteller suffers from a staged depression, as a result of which is tied to the bed under the constant supervision of her husband, the doctor, and because of this begins to lose his mind. Gilman himself was diagnosed with “neurasthenia” when she was little more than twenty years old. She was treated by Dr. S. V. Mitchell, whose medication was bed rest for a woman for many months. He allowed her only rare and meager meals and refused any mental, physical and social activity. Creative urges, such as writing or drawing, were strictly forbidden. As Gilman later said, the very “treatment” almost drove her crazy.


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