Date of Award

Fall 2021

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Liberal Studies


Dr. Jill Jones

Second Advisor

Dr. Lucy Littler


In the realm of Gothic literature, the main characters typically involve a helpless woman in the clutches of her male assailant. Critics have long established that the traditional Gothic genre is considered a male-dominated discipline fixated on ideas of power, control, and submission. This essay argues that Shirley Jackson and Toni Morrison separate from this trope and invent the haunted heroine, a leading lady so haunted by the past, relationships, and emotions that through unique character development, insidious use of dread, and malicious paranormal occurrences create a nouveau dichotomy within Gothic literature. This essay is a close reading of two primary texts: Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (1959) and Morrison’s Beloved (1987) to contend that the human condition is a haunted condition. Through their renaissance of Gothic literature, they force a mirror up to society and history, and by their work we are forced to face our own hauntings.

Rights Holder

Mallory L. Danley