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The Gothic and Death$
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Carol Margaret Davison

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781784992699

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784992699.001.0001

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The annihilation of self and species: the ecoGothic sensibilities of Mary Shelley and Nathaniel Hawthorne

The annihilation of self and species: the ecoGothic sensibilities of Mary Shelley and Nathaniel Hawthorne

Chapter:
(p.103) 7 The annihilation of self and species: the ecoGothic sensibilities of Mary Shelley and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Source:
The Gothic and Death
Author(s):

Jennifer Schell

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9781784992699.003.0008

This chapter argues that Shelley and Hawthorne adapt traditional Gothic imagery to environmental contexts in order to create two distinctly different ecoGothic visions of the extinction of humanity. Drawing on ideas advanced by ecocritics, conservation biologists, and psychoanalytic thinkers, this chapter describes the historical context and emotional import of extinction science and its impact on Shelley and Hawthorne. Taking up The Last Man and “The Ambitious Guest,” respectively, the chapter contrasts Shelley’s view of nature as a indiscriminate force that slaughters millions of innocent humans, with Hawthorne’s view of nature as a vengeful force that punishes a small, symbolically significant group of sinful humans. It concludes by noting that it was Hawthorne’s brand of ecoGothic writing, not Shelley’s, that eventually became immensely popular with late-twentieth-century writers and filmmakers.

Keywords:   ecoGothic, Extinction, Mary Shelley, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Environmental, Science, Psychoanalytic

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