Date of Award

11-28-2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Michael Galchinsky - Chair

Second Advisor

Calvin Thomas

Third Advisor

Lee Anne Richardson

Abstract

"Sounds of Terror" explores the interrelations between discourses of sound and the ghostly in Victorian novels and short stories. Narrative techniques used by Charles, Dickens, George Eliot, Henry James, and Charlotte Mew are historically and culturally situated through their use of or reactions against acoustic technology. Since ghost stories and nvoels with gothic elements rely for the terrifying effects on tropes of liminality, my study consists of an analysis of an important yet largely unacknowledged species of these tropes: auditory metaphors. Many critics have examined the visual metaphors that appear in nineteenth-century fiction, but, until recently, aural representations have remain critically ignored. The aural itself represents the liminal or the numinous since sounds are less identifiable than visuals because of their ephemeral nature. My study shows the the significance of auditory symbols becomes increasingly intensified as the century progresses. Through analyses of Charles Dickens's David Copperfield, George Eliot's Daniel Deronda, and short stories by Henry James ("The Altar of the Dead" and "In the Cage")and Charlotte Mew ("Passed" and "A White Night"), I argue that Victorian writers using gothic modes employ metaphors and symbolism as an alternative to frightening visual images--what could be heard or not heard proved terrifying and dreadful.

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