Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1, Or The Return of Mina, Plus Others

So as the last novel we read for my Gothicism course, we chose Alan Moore's graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1, which is a work rich with allusions to Victorian literature, and because of its employment of famous literary characters, there is a great deal of Gothicism floating around.

First, and most obviously, we return to the exploits of Mina Murray from Dracula, now divorced, disgraced, and employed by a shadowy branch of military service. She returns here as leader of the League, a collection of various heroes and villains from Victorian literature: Allan Quatermain, the Great White Hunter; Captain Nemo, Scourage of the Empire; Hawley Griffin, Invisible Man; and Dr Jekyll, with Mr. Hyde in tow. Mina is the leader because she "has experience with monsters," i.e., the abhuman and the Other. Each of her subordinates, with the possible exception of Quatermain, has something specifically Gothic about them.

Furthermore the overreaching plot, especially the confrontation with Moriarty, brings to mind the human Gothic that we found in Bleak House and Northanger Abbey; we are confronted with a perfectly ordinary man as the antagonist, while the Others and the abhumans become the heroes of the work; quite a turn around from Dracula.

The Chinese Devil Doctor, however, relates to the sense of Orientalist fears to the east that plagued England during the Victorian era, as well as the sense of foreboding that permeates Dracula. That we find ourselves constantly in opium dens, crowded sidewalks, underwater, underground, and in the bat-like aerial ship seems a very codified use of the urban Gothic's restriction of space; meanwhile, the constant crush of people in the city street reinforces that element.

All right, so that wraps up the blog for the time being. I hope to continue on this summer, as I've just received a copy of Dracula: The Un-Dead, which is supposed to be the official sequel to the classic novel. Thanks for reading!

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