The Gothic novel emerged out of the romantic mist alongside a new conception of the home as a separate sphere for women. Looking at novels from Horace Walpole's Castle of Otranto to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Kate Ferguson Ellis investigates the relationship between these two phenomena of middle-class culture -- the idealization of the home and the popularity of the Gothic -- and explores how both male and female authors used the Gothic novel to challenge the false claim of home as a safe, protected place. Linking terror -- the most important ingredient of the Gothic novel -- to acts of transgression, Ellis shows how houses in Gothic fiction imprison those inside them, while those locked outside wander the earth plotting their return and their revenge.
"An ambitious, readable, and well-argued book, The Contested Castle ... presents useful, sometimes radical re-readings of familiar and unfamiliar gothic texts; it also takes important steps toward demonstrating, as Ellis puts it, 'that popular literature can be a site of resistance to ideological positions as well as a means of propagating them'--an argument of considerable importance for scholars in and advanced students of critical theory." -- Choice "Ellis sheds special light on the way capitalist relations and the culture of capitalism influenced the way women lived, envisioned, wrote, and read their own narratives. It's a story at least as gripping and at least as terrifying as the male and female Gothics that Ellis so gracefully presents and interprets." -- Lillian S. Robinson, author of Sex, Class, and Culture "The strength of Ellis's The Contested Castle is in its linking of the Gothic novel with a bourgeois ideology that specified the role and place of women in its system... In the light of her work, not only the Gothic novel but the rise of the novel and the realist novel will be reread as well." -- Mary O'Connor, Eighteenth-Century Fiction