Writers of wrongs : discovering social ills through the gothic fiction of Toni Morrison and Stephen King.


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Toni Morrison and Stephen King are both prolific writers, though scholars do not often favor King’s work with critical study. Perhaps this is a mistake. Both Morrison and King write in the tradition of the American gothic, a genre that conveys concerns about society and history through its depictions of terror. Originating in Europe, writers quickly adapted the genre to suit American concerns. Today, the gothic attempts to unsettle the reader in order to critique social ills in American culture. Both Morrison and King are adept at this. This thesis uses three novels by each author—Beloved and The Shining, Song of Solomon and Carrie, The Bluest Eye and It—to examine their usage of similar gothic tropes. Comparing these novels shows both authors’ preoccupation with the unchangeable past, false security, and racism, ultimately revealing that King’s work can be just as literarily important as Morrison’s.



American gothic. Toni Morrison. Stephen King.