Implementation of Gothic Themes in The Gothic Ghost of the Counterfeit

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

In “The Gothic Ghost of the Counterfeit and the Process of Abjection,” Jerrold E. Hogle argues that the eighteenth century gothic emergence from fake imitation of fake work is the foundation of what is defined as modern gothic today. He maintains that Horace Walpole’s 1765 The Castle of Otranto, which is considered as the groundwork of the modern Gothic story, is built on a false proclamation that the novel was an Italian manuscript written by a priest. Hogle argues that modern Gothic is grounded in fakery. He maintains his explanation that Walpole’s novel, The Castle of Otranto, formed the foundation for the contemporary Gothic story. Hogle argues that the Otranto manuscript was “initially published in 1764 as a translation by Willian Marshall of sixteen-century Italian manuscript by a priest who was supposedly trying to draw the populace” (Hogle, 2012:496). Hogle’s observation of the history of The Castle of Otranto forms the basis for understanding the concept of counterfeit as a result of the abjection process. Contrary, neo-Gothic of Walpolian ghosts derive from the levels of Gothic story signify the drifts of falsification of their foundations. The foundations of modern gothic mean the already falsified signs, which eventually become the basis for the development of counterfeit of the abject past that is seen in recent films, novels, and stories. Hogle channels Freudian psychoanalysis and Julia Kristeva’s definition of abjection to explain his perspective.

According to Hogle (2012:498), modern gothic is, “continuously based on ghosting of the already spectral or at least re-symbolization of what is already symbolic and thus more fake than real.” Hogle attempts to explain the modern Gothic as the falsification of what already existed. This explanation is relevant to distinguish between modern Gothic and medieval Gothic. In other words, Hogle’s argument is both interesting and challenging, he seeks to explain that the modern Gothic mode is based on faking of what already existed in the past. For instance, Hogle gives a useful example of Shakespeare’s Hamlet where the ghost of Hamlet’s father is real and appears as a ghost (not an idea nor a representation of other elements).

In contrast, Walpole’s three-dimensional ghost does not appear all at once but rather appears throughout the novel as a gigantic armor then as different representations, basically ghosts of portraits and ghosts of statues. This, Hogle argues, alludes to the idea of the Gothic Story as a signifying of signifiers. In other words, he believes that the counterfeit of the ghost of the past or the Shakespearean spectral is the modern gothic. Hogle’s comprehensive analysis of the difference between the ghost in Hamlet and in Otranto is crucial to understand his idea of the counterfeit as a signifying not a signifier. This becomes evident as the result of what Walpole stressed on his preface that he is trying to create a new kind of romance, one that combines old romance of supernatural beliefs and new romance of realism. This makes the idea of the past and present relevant as “The Castle of Otranto has often been seen as indicative of Walpole’s reactionary nostalgia, his longing to escape into an idealistic past,” this is for Hogle’s argument important because the idea of counterfeit is to resemble the past “the known past is more secure than the changing present.” (Kilgour 1995:17). Thus, this mode of the gothic becomes concerned with signifying rather than signifiers.

Furthermore, Hogle (2012:502) argues that “Renaissance counterfeit of the medieval, has now become the evacuated “signified” of the Gothic signifier, which is thus the ghost of the counterfeit.” To illustrate, Hogle’s explanation is relevant to the theory of the counterfeit in terms of understanding its history and how it fits as a literary concept. The exploitation of this transferability of counterfeit sign shifted to other signs like the pointing of Walpole’s ghosts to portraits. This shift shows the applicability of divisible ghosts of earlier authors instead of real people and their statuses. Also, Hogle explains that the revival of neo-Gothic in the eighteenth century was sarcastic and managed to completely replace ‘bound-sign’ where ‘natural’ meaning is replaced by pictures. Hogle further argues that Walpole adopts and refashions fake icons to make ghosts to his reference to an antiquated belief system. In addition, he rejects to assert the symbol’s claim to the truth; as such assertion directly contradicts the counterfeit Gothic.

Thus, Hogle believes that Renaissance counterfeit of the medieval is nearly empty and dead due to refaking of fake ghosts. What is especially interesting about Hogle’s argument is that he emphasizes that the counterfeit’s shift is far more complex than just a mere faking of earlier work. This is important to acknowledge especially when comparing between Shakespearean spectral and any work that follows Walpolian gothic. Although Hogle’s argument of the ‘signifying vs. signifier’ is valid in terms of comparing between ghosts in the past and present, still, it does not adhere to the politics of their time. This particular point would be clearer if Hogle included political aspect of why modern gothic is represented as “signifying” and related it to the text.

Moreover, Hogle (2012:498) uses Julia Kristeva’s definition of abjection as he writes, “In abjection, the most multifarious, inconsistent, and conflicted aspects of our beings are “thrown off” onto seemingly repulsive monsters or ghosts that both obscure and reveal this “otherness” from our preferred selves that actually exists very much within ourselves”. To illustrate, abjection functions as an entity of everything that is cast off or rejected. For instance, Hogle uses specific literary texts to illustrate his point of abjection as ‘other’. He compellingly illustrates the concept of abjection as ‘othered’ beings such as in Frankenstein, Dracula, and Phantom of the Opera. Such stories follow the Walpolean Gothic, however, are more represented as ‘other’ than ‘fake’. To further illustrate, Walpole’s story is based on fake foundation, re-telling of ghost series following Shakespeare’s way. However, stories like Frankenstein, Dracula, and Phantom of the Opera are represented as the “other”. While Hogle’s explanation of abjection is valid when he focuses on ghosts of representations, still, it lacks clarity in terms of how to identify the counterfeit. Hogle’s remains a little confusing because he maintains that abjection is everything that is castoff and forgotten but then gives examples of abjection that resemble the concept of ‘other’ more than his concept of abjection.

Hogle’s understanding of Abjection in relations to counterfeit is used within the lens of Freudian theory psychoanalysis. Hogle’s Abjection is unconsciously the ‘othered’ fake beings. Hogle explains abjection using a metaphor of signifier as a ‘simulacrum’. According to Hogle (2012:503) “simulacrum, a symbol repetitiously from a pattern of mold (which is the ghost of the counterfeit)”. To further illustrate, the simulacrum concept is important to grasp how the counterfeit is in a constant change. Hogle makes his point by surveying European history from middle ages till the enlightenment. He stresses that the gothic after the spectral could become the industry of imitation of itself because readers and publishers seek mechanical ways to reduplicate the world’s image by the simulacrum, a manufactured pattern.

However, the medieval changes and the ghost of the counterfeiting did not stop with the dominance of mechanical reproduction. Later, it turned out that the conflicting tension that derived from the foundations of the Ghost of counterfeit and required the changes to make it easy to identify the “unconscious” and the abject in Gothic narratives to fill the outcasted places with “othered” entities. In his comprehensive analysis, Hogle precisely surveys the European history in relations to abjection and successfully considers the cultural arguments, which makes it easier to understand the concept of ‘other’ in terms of abjection.

Similarly, Robert Miles (1993) defines modern Gothic abjection as “British Catholic,” which signifies abject othering who aims to steal the enjoyment, which he considered as “our thing.” Miles’s explanation emphasizes mainly on the cultural aspect that creates this interpretation for the idea of the “other” abjection. Although Hogle and Miles both agree that the Gothic has situated itself with the logic of the ‘counterfeit’, still, Miles’ illustration of Gothic is a little different from Hogles. Miles suggests that Gothic originates from a nationalist aspect that is chastely anti-Catholic. To further explain, Mile’s abjection used to enlighten the reader about the history behind why the other is seen as abject in terms of looking at the Catholic other as an abject. Miles (1993) argues “Otranto is structured in line with Kristeva’s theory of abjection, an Other, a super-ego-the ghost of Alfonso-built out of the myths of Whig legitimacy, arresting the subject’s slide into the abject antitheses of illegitimacy, incoherence, and fragmentation.” In other words, Miles ties Abjection with Whiggish politics and explains that what is seen as abjection is the result of such a nationalist identity. In some instances, both Miles and Hogles’ concept of gothic is the same because they agree that abjection is what formed the ghost of the counterfeit. Nevertheless, Miles’ argument is purely based on nationalism, which is the drive for the creation of gothic of the counterfeit.

Furthermore, Hogle argues that the fictions that arise from the Gothic revitalization circulate between a variety of sermons of self-definition in the 18th century because of the later the signifiers of conflicts that make the self-fashioning in Europe between 15th to 16th century (Hogle, 2012:502-503). Hogle uses Mark Madoff’s interpretation of history. Mark Madoff (1979) does not explore the idea of abjection but rather looks at Gothic as pseudo-history to defend the parliamentary privilege and protests against Catholics. Madoff’s concern is not with how to interpret Gothic literature or define it but rather with what made it the way it is.


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