This book demonstrates that incest was representative of a range of interests crucial to writers of the Gothic, often women or homosexual men who adopted a critical stance in relation to the heteronormative patriarchal world. In repositioning the Gothic, representations of incest are revealed as synonymous with the Gothic as a whole. The book argues that extending the traditional endpoint of the Gothic makes it possible to understand the full range of familial, legal, marital, sexual and class implications associated with the genre's deployment of incest. Gothic authors deploy the generic convention of incest to reveal as inadequate heteronormative ideologies of sexuality and desire in the patriarchal social structure that render its laws and requirements arbitrary. The book examines the various familial ties and incestuous relationships in the Gothic to show how they depict and disrupt contemporary definitions of gender, family and desire. Many of the methodologies adopted in Gothic scholarship and analyses of incest reveal ongoing continuities between their assumptions and those of the very ideologies Gothic authors strove to disrupt through their use of the incest trope. Methodologies such as Freudian psychoanalysis, as Botting argues, can be positioned as a product of Gothic monster-making, showing the effect of Gothic conventions on psychoanalytic theories that are still in wide use today.
scientific insights. The
interdisciplinary approach enables readings that expose the ways in
which different incestuousrelationships engage with eighteenth-century
concerns over family, social obligation, individual rights, inheritance
laws and desire. The fruits of this broad methodology are evidenced
through recent works on the Gothic such as Diana Wallace and Andrew
Smith’s The Female Gothic: New
current association between incest and abuse is due to the reduction of the scope of incest prohibitions that occurred towards the end of the nineteenth century, when several of the voluntary incest relationships were legalised.
In very broad terms, society's idea of incest has thus shifted from a perception of the forbidden act as a religious crime to a moral crime and then to a crime of violence.
The general attitude towards and the existence of incestuousrelationships have to a great
Father– daughter incest and the economics of exchange
discussions of the incest taboo
contribute to reading father–daughter incest within a gendered
framework that tends to view this incestuousrelationship as alternately
imagined or abusive. Freudian approaches are often applied in
conjunction with anthropological understandings of incest such as those
advanced by Claude Lévi-Strauss, who theorised that: ‘the
prohibition of incest is … the fundamental step … in
Drs Eleanor H. Russell and William K. Russell, who made a direct analogy
between the actinic light of flash photography and that of phototherapy.
In Section I of this chapter I
explore this alliance, but in Section II , I want to
tease out the tensions in what came to be an uneasy, incestuousrelationship
between photography and light therapy, between the visualising and
therapeutic powers of light. This was especially the
most disturbing of all incestuousrelationships.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was even more repulsed by the play
than Frances Burney, calling it ‘the most disgusting, vile,
detestable composition that ever came from the hand of man. No one with
a spark of true manliness, of which Horace Walpole had none, could have
written it.’ 5
Coleridge’s detestation of the play and his sense
against a biological explanation for incest.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, it was assumed in natural-science circles that incest prohibitions formed the starting-point of modern civilisation. Through socially constructed prohibitions, humans had distanced themselves from their animal origins.
Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud contended that humans were born with a natural longing for incestuousrelationships , but that, with the aid of cultural laws, they learned to suppress their forbidden
the general attitude to and assessment of incestuousrelationships were affected by these revolutionary social developments. The investigation continues where the previous part ended, in the middle of the nineteenth century, with the then topical debate on potential liberalisations of the affinity prohibitions in collateral and diagonal degrees.
An intermediate period, 1840–72
The Penal Act of 1864
During the first half of the nineteenth century, a legislative committee worked on proposals for a new civil
, or other disasters. This provided a link between morality and social development that could justify severe sexual legislation even when punishing crimes that did not really have an actual plaintiff, e.g., with respect to fornication.
The policymakers of the sixteenth century endeavoured to increase the correspondence between the biblical message and its practical application.
With regard to the regulation of incestuousrelationships, this meant that the number
believe illuminates a disjunction between the prevalence of scholarship
featuring Oedipus Rex and Freud in discussions of incest and the
actual limited occurrence of mother–son incest, particularly
compared to father–daughter incest. 3 The disparity between the statistics on
mother–son incest compared to those on other incestuousrelationships is accounted for in biological terms by the genetic