Mario Ortiz-Robles deposited LiminAnimal: The Monster in Late Victorian Gothic Fiction in the group GS Prose Fiction on MLA Commons 6 years, 1 month ago
The animal characteristics of the monster in late Victorian gothic fiction make visible the biopolitical rationalisation of life in modern societies. Key moments in Bram Sto- ker’s Dracula and R.L. Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde provide evidence for the animality of late Victorian gothic monsters. In an extended reading of Richard Marsh’s 1897 novel The Beetle, this essay shows how the liminality of the monster in late Victorian gothic fiction is rhetorically articulated as a figural aberration that can only be reabsorbed into the dominant discourse by the use of animal imagery. In the face of ever more sophisticated calculations concerning populations in the nineteenth century, Victorians’ increased awareness of humans’ animality as Darwin’s theory of evolution became culturally assimilated allowed this transformation to be encoded as a biological mutation. The monster’s status as a limi- nal creature that occupies an indeterminate zone between human and animal draws attention to biopower’s dividing practices, which create social categories, such as race, that come to be understood as biological classifications.