Passage In The Secret History Of An Irish Countess Analysis

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Joseph Sheridan LeFanu’s Passage in the Secret History of an Irish Countess: Through the lens of Sigmund Freud’s The Uncanny The emergence of the Gothic Literature in the 18th century set the stage for one of the most prolific Irish writers of the 19th century, Joseph Sheridan LeFanu, whose “work is squarely in the nineteenth-century Gothic tradition” (Begnal 27), and to whose name can be ascribed The Purcell Papers, titled so due to “being attributed to the Reverend Francis Purcell of Drumcoolagh” (Sullivan 6), a pseudonym used by LeFanu to circulate his first stories, one of which was a short story, bearing the title: Passage in the Secret History of an Irish Countess. This essay will analyze this short story from the perspective of Freud’s…show more content…
Additionally, elements – those foreign in a human dwelling – are taking control of the spot: “stagnant swamps, overgrown with rank weeds […] encroached upon by the straggling underwood” (LeFanu). These swamps, weeds, and underwood appertain to the elemental forces of nature and would essentially have no place in a well-kept civilized human dwelling place. They belong to the wild and untamed nature. Nonetheless, in this case they have intruded into the human habitat, where they do not belong. Since according to Freud the heimlich is something that is “regarded as belonging” (2), in consequence, the unheimlich is something that does not belong. Thus, as the wild nature thrusts itself into a place where it originally does not belong, it becomes unheimlich and endows the whole place with an uncanny quality. It produces a feeling of the uncanny in the countess, inspiring fear in her. As soon as the uncanny dread is awakened she is again reminded of “a dark page in the history of the family” (LeFanu), that is, the murder that the owner of Carrickleigh Castle was accused of. This clearly shows how the manifestation of the unheimlich in the external world leads to the reemergence of a sense of the uncanny in the mind of the heroine, evoking in her mind the dreadful murder, which in itself has a highly unheimlich character, capable of arousing “dread and creeping horror” (Freud

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