This absolute treasure of an essay and accompanying video by Evan Hayles Gledhill and Dr. Lori Morimoto explore the themes of the genre of gothic romance and the parallels between William Godwin’s Things as They Are, or the Adventures of Caleb Williams (1794); Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847); and NBC’s TV series Hannibal (2013-2015).Note: both the video and essay contain spoilers for seasons 1-3 of Hannibal. Video contains gore and graphic violence.
Hayles Gledhill and Morimoto write,
In all these stories, the creators develop a great deal of sympathy for their monstrous characters; the audience is encouraged to explore and understand the motives of both the monster and the victim, not to simply condemn one set of actions as evil, and the other as good. To achieve this, these fictions focus on an intense relationship between the two individuals.
I would love to quote not just the whole essay but also the whole video. I’m particularly fond of their argument that Will Graham’s and Hannibal Lecter’s character coding flaunts stereotypes about masculinities and femininities, thus making them fully realized characters, and, to me at least, not only more believable ones but also more relatable to me as a genderqueer person. Additionally, having a large cast of bi+ and queer characters removes a lot of the “evil queer man” and “evil bisexual” stereotypes.
As the queer takes center stage in season three of Bryan Fuller’s adaptation, romance becomes a better mode than the legal adventure/pursuit model, because it focuses attention on the interpersonal gender dynamics, and this reveals the gendering of power dynamics at work in society, that Caleb Williams does not address in such depth.
Read the whole essay here.