Here lies a Never-ending string of Questions

Throughout the 1700-1800’s, various socio-political tensions such as gender inequality bred fictional representations of the monstrous as well as the demonic, and oftentimes the two are linked inextricably so that they become interchangeable. Thus, my question is not respective to such representations of the monster as Frankenstein or Dracula, but also seeks to include characters with no horrible deformities or supernatural ontology, but instead are likened to monsters, demons and other supernatural horrors through the way they are described in the book. Oftentimes there emerges a correlation between identifying supernatural traits and identifying gender. Can monstrosity be gendered? What is the part of gender in representations of the monster in early modern literature? Does the male form always imply demonhood, and the female, angelicacy, as we know it in early-18th century classics like Clarissa? In which instances is the female form demonic, and what does this represent about larger social constructs? Are these pre-gothic and Gothic examples of demonology seeping into gender relations a result of the lasting impact of late Medieval and early renaissance Italian poetry? What role, if any, did these works play on 18th and 19th century representations of the gendered supernatural? The Medieval Italian literary movement is often considered a source and inspiration to later literary movements, is it possible they could have had their impact here as well? The works of Dante and Petrach are enduring examples of a gendered spirituality that resonates themes like the angelic woman and the demonic male in works of literature like Clarissa, or the History of a Young Lady, Wieland, and Wuthering Heights.

I will focus on the use of supernatural imagery as seen in literature with the goal of tracing a connection between Catholic “evil”, monstrosity, and gender. Do the concentration of demonic representations in literature increase of decrease throughout time? Does the ethical identity of a gender shift as the decades progress, or remain the same? What are the masses saying about their interpretation of gender identity?

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