Under the Bed, Creeping

Psychoanalyzing the Gothic in Children’s Literature


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About the Book

From Puritan tracts and chapbooks to fairy tales and Victorian poems, from zombies and werewolves to ghosts and vampires, the gothic has become an important part of children’s literature. This book explores how Gothicism is crucial in helping children progress through different stages of growth and development. It examines five famous texts—Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market, Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, three versions of Little Red Riding Hood, and J.M. Barrie’s play and then novel Peter and Wendy—incorporating renowned psychologist Erik Erikson’s landmark theories on psychosocial stages of development. By linking a particular stage to each of the aforementioned texts, it becomes clearer how anxiety and terror are just as important as happiness and wonder in fostering maturity, achieving a sense of independence and fulfilling one’s self-identity. Gothic elements give shape to children’s fears, which is precisely how children are able to defeat them, and through their interactions with the ghosts and goblins that inhabit fantasy worlds, children come to better understand their own world, as well as their own lives.

About the Author(s)

Michael Howarth is a Professor of English at Missouri Southern State University. He has published numerous short stories, articles, essays, and novels. He lives in Joplin, Missouri.

Bibliographic Details

Michael Howarth

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 196
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7843-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1598-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  ix
Preface  Appreciating the Big Bad Wolf 1
Introduction  Lurking in the Shadows 11
1 • Behavior and Boundaries  Autonomy and Doubt in Goblin Market 23
2 • Fools’ Trap  Initiative and Guilt in The Adventures of Pinocchio 50
3 • Games and Challenges  Industry and Inferiority in Coraline 74
4 • Genital Dystopia  Identity and Role Confusion in Little Red Riding Hood 100
5 • An Awfully Big Commitment  Intimacy and Isolation in Peter and Wendy 128
Epilogue  One Last Gasp 163
Notes  169
Bibliography  175
Index  179

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “The study is fascinating, revealing clear links among psychology, literature, and education…. Howarth’s enthusiasm for the texts and for the genre makes the book entertaining as well as educational…recommended”—Choice