Refiguring the Labyrinth and the Minotaur: Representations of the Female in Contemporary Gothic Fiction
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This dissertation will study images and characters from the Cretan labyrinth myth, predominantly the labyrinth itself and the Minotaur that is found imprisoned in the centre. With representations of the female, selected contemporary texts will be analysed showing their attempt at refiguring these original, mythical ideas and figures. Chapter one will explore Umberto Eco’s seminal novel The Name of the Rose (1980). The focus will be on blind librarian Jorge of Burgos and the peasant girl who controversially seduces main character Adso. These figures will be examined as Eco’s portrayal of the monstrous feminine, and spaces such as the library and kitchen in particular will be identified as womb-like constructions that feminise the labyrinth. The following chapter will analyse Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s novel The Dumas Club (1993). Character Irene Adler will be examined as the protagonist’s Ariadne-type figure, as she navigates his way through the labyrinthine quest. The chapter will also analyse Adler’s ambiguous character and often maternal nature, which will identify the author’s play on the ambiguity of the Minotaur and the mythical mother Pasiphaë. Other female characters will be analysed in addition to the nine images in the novel, which further demonstrate the refiguring of the Minotaur through a textual labyrinth. The final chapter will examine Mark Z. Danielewski’s textual experiment House of Leaves (2000) where the focus will be on mother and housewife Karen as the feminised Minotaur figure. It will also explore the character Delial who haunts the past of husband Will Navidson and remains at the centre of his labyrinth, again portraying the refigured Minotaur as a feminised character. It will be proved that all three novels exemplify the gothic postmodern and subvert ideas belonging to the Cretan myth, particularly the hyper-masculinity of the Minotaur.
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