"Hideous Progeny": Representing the Unconscious in English Narrative before Freud

By Charles Campbell.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Beginning with “Beowulf,” the monsters in English fiction represent the uncontrollable forces of the unconscious operating in similar narrative landscapes and plots. An archetypal narrative dynamic occurs in “Beowulf,” “Clarissa,” “Frankenstein,” “Wuthering Heights” and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” a pattern of opposition between a house of order and a house of the outsider (the dwelling of the monster), with journeys, spying and existential conflict between the two. These shared elements of form reflect a common concern with the incursions of the unconscious into the structures of civilized social life. The monster is humanized in the novel, after his initial appearance as Grendel, but he retains his original character, setting, movements and aggressions. This study shows how this outsider figure is represented on a typical landscape and how he figures in various fictional worlds. The perspective thus opened provides new insights into narrative form and into consciousness of the unconscious in fiction.

Keywords: Narrative, Archetype, Unconscious, Monster, Hero, Outsider, Fictional Landscape

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp.11-23. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 407.188KB).

Dr. Charles Campbell

Assistant Professor, English Department, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman

Charles Campbell teaches Shakespeare, eighteenth and nineteenth century literature, and film studies at Sultan Qaboos University, Oman. He has published on Shakespeare, Pope, Johnson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Howells, Dreiser, Fitzgerald, Joyce and Hitchcock. His “Women and Sadism in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” is forthcoming in ELT.