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Gothic literature began due to the Romanticism movement, which became popular during the late 18th and 19th centuries. The word “Gothic” refers to ” An architectural style in Northern Europe from early 12th century to 16th, and, as Gothic revival, in 19th century. Thence it is applied to literature and religion to denote the opaquely mysterious and grotesque”. (John Bowker) Characters within gothic genre novels typically have their world distorted in some way. Lisamarie’s world becomes warped when she is encountered with the disappearance of Jimmy, which influences her to reflect on the past relationship that she once had with her younger brother.
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Eden Robinson embarks the reader into a world of mystery instantly when she writes “Six crows sit in our greengage tree. Half-awake, I hear them speak to me in Haisla. La’es, they say La’es, ls’es.”(Eden Robinson) Instead of including a description of the setting to the reader at the introduction of the novel, the author wants us to understand the ambiguity behind the story. Shortly into the story Lisamarie discovers that her younger brother, Jimmy has gone missing on a fishing trip. Distraught of their sons disappearance, Lisa’s parents decided to be closer to the search so they embark on a journey to Namu. The night before the Queen of the North disappeared, Lisa had a dream that she saw Jimmy at Monkey Beach. Monkey Beach quickly became Jimmy’s favorite place to escape to when he was a kid. He enjoyed hearing stories that his dad, Ba-ba-oo, told to him about the B’gwus which is a sasquatch that inhabits Monkey Beach. Ba-ba-oo would often embellish the story of the B’gwus and Ma-ma-oo would become irritated saying “You’re telling it wrong.”(Eden Robinson)The author establishes an environment where story’s are exaggerated and told in partial truths. While on a trip to Monkey Beach, Jimmy tries to find this mythical creature with no avail. This adventure to Monkey Beach sparked an interest in Jimmy. The mysterious disappearance of Jimmy is a main theme during the story. While the story continues with the search for Jimmy, the narrator provides the reader with flashbacks to the childhood of both Lisa and Jimmy. During these flashbacks we come to understand the strong bond that is forged between brother and sister.
One familiar theme of gothic genre is death. Eden Robinson presents this gothic theme in several ways in which she leaves the reader with the mystery of Jimmy’s death during the story and also feeds the readers desire for death by revealing that of Mick’s and Ma-ma-oo. Mick was a rebellious character whom Lisa was frightened at first of his persona. Lisa would later become fond of her uncle and earn the name “little monster”. On a fishing trip Lisa discovers that Mick and her mom has once dated before she meet Albert. While on the fishing trip tragedy strikes and Mick is killed in a fishing accident where he was partially eaten by seals. Lisa’s grandmother suffers a misfortune when her house catches fire and unable to escape Ma-ma-oo dies in the house fire. Ma-ma-oo was always affectionate and caring to Lisa, so in her inheritance she leaves Lisa with 200,000 dollars.
Ghosts and the supernatural are both elements that amplify the horror of a gothic genre. Eden Robinson provides Lisa with a “gift”, which is an ability to see ghosts. Lisa is haunted by the apparition of a little man whom always appears to Lisa before something bad is about to happen. The sasquatch or B’gwus, was a creature that haunted Monkey Beach and gave the island a bit of ambiguity.
The elements of Gothic genre are spread throughout Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach, which aid the reader in understanding a doom and gloom atmosphere in the story.
JOHN BOWKER. “Gothic.” The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. 1997. Encyclopedia.com. 19 Oct. 2010
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