Challenging the Victorian Nuclear Family Myth: The Incest Trope in Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak
Abstract(Neo-)Victorian literature offers contradictory conceptualisations of the nuclear family. While it usually revolves around traditional heteroparental households, at the same time it portrays them as fragmented and deeply flawed. Guillermo del Toro’s film Crimson Peak (2015) builds on domestic traumas, the dysfunctional family and the supernatural, three recurrent tropes in (neo-)Victorian Gothic fiction. My main aim is to explore how Del Toro exploits the incest plotline in order to subvert preconceived views on the idealised Victorian family. I first analyse the ancestral family house and the mother figure as the loci of family traumas. I then move on to examine the Sharpe siblings’ incestuous relationship from a threefold perspective involving ethics, aesthetics and psychoanalysis, thereby showing that Del Toro exposes nineteenth-century family traumas that are still present in contemporary societies, so that audiences may become aware of these social issues and even take an active stance against them.
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