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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Michael Scrivener


Servant Voices and Tales in the British Gothic Novel explores representations of servant identity in the eighteenth and nineteenth century Gothic novel, constructing an argument framed around the following questions: how is superstition and community represented in the Gothic novel; in what ways do servant voices interact with individual voice and experience; how do servant voices manifest in the marginal spaces surrounding the dominant narrative and rational discourse of the speaker/narrator; and what oppositional messages and subversive roles do servant characters convey? I emphasize servants’ discourse within the context of domestic ideology, and as a result, analyze class, gender, and racial positions through servant/master relations in the home. To delineate the opposition between the rational/skeptic and the credulous/superstitious voice, I further analyze eighteenth-century anti-Gothic rhetoric and highlight hierarchical patterns of experience and knowledge further reiterated in the home. My argument demonstrates servant voices as not only disruptive to rational domesticity but also as subversive, showing how servants act as producers and consumers of superstition in an effort to resist and even parody rational discourse. Through marginal subtexts, they validate the supernatural tale within frame narratives, reports, testimony, and gossip, constructing a pedagogy for reading Gothic texts that opposes oppressive patriarchal structures by employing the same literary mechanisms, oral tales of ghostly haunting, demonic possession, and illicit desire, that rational discourse assigns as vulgar and gratuitous.

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