Emigration Gothic: A Scotswoman’s Contribution to the New World
Keywords:female Gothic, Canadian immigration, Ellen Ross
Ellen Ross (1816?–1892) emigrated from Scotland to Montreal at mid-century and wrote two Gothic novels, in one of which – Violet Keith, An Autobiography (1868) – she used the Canadian setting as a fantastic Gothic locale in which to explore areas of social and sexual transgression. Drawing on earlier traditions of European Gothic, including Sir Walter Scott’s mythologized Scottish landscape, and on an emerging North American genre of convent exposes, Ross’s writing accommodates female protest, distances it from reality and allows its dissipation in conventional denouements. If female Gothic can be read as an analogue of realistic women’s problems, then perhaps this analogy can be extended to encompass emigration and immigrant life. The paper analyzes Ross’s motifs of loss, imprisonment, solitude, surveillance and deliverance and considers the possibility that Gothic motifs in her work both conceal and express features of the immigrant’s psychic battle with the transition to the New World.
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