(POST)COLONIAL DISCOURSE AND THE IRISH SELF IN THE WRITINGS OF J.S. LEFANU
It is widely accepted that the relationships of dominance between the self and the other are concurrent to both the Gothic genre and postcolonial theory. In Gothic literature this relationship has traditionally been expressed through the dichotomy self vs. other, in which the self is the male protagonist while the latter is “everything else in that world” (Day 19), Gothic literature being, thus, an exploration of the formation of identity. In colonial Gothic this is brought under the axiom colonizer-colonized, and, therefore, characters are analysed as manifestations of a dichotomy which usually links first the other to the monstrous, who is subsequently presented as the colonized subject. The Irish case further complicates this simple binary relation. The running argument of the present paper is that far from being a dichotomy, the Irish case is better understood as a triangle in which two of its vertices are fixed—Catholics/Irish and English—while the third vertex, that of the Anglo-Irish, gradually shifts positions from the English to the Irish one, following a creolization process in which they are both victims and victimizers. The characters in the fictions of J.S. Le Fanu all epitomize this constrained relationship, displaying an array of roles who do not comfortably fit into either category, showing a pervading feeling of being ill-at-ease. As this paper shows, a deeper reading reveals these figures to be just the opposite of what the prototypical colonialist figure ought to be—weak and feeble, terrorized rather than terrorizer, in awe of the other instead of subduing it.