Homosexuality in Victorian Literature Essay

1847 Words 8 Pages
In the late eighteeth century, notions of modesty and propriety meant that there were few ways in which sexuality could be discussed openly in a social setting. Gothic narrative served as an outlet. In Victorian Supernatural fiction, the anxieties surrounding homosexuality is a very prominent theme. However, due to the cultural status of homosexuality as taboo, the subject is heavily veiled in literature. In John Mead Faulkner's `The Lost Stradivarius,' the story appears to be about a young man's obsession with a wonderful musical instrument and a particular piece of music. Through carefully disguised metaphor's, the story conveys pertinent information regarding the reception of homosexuality in England during the Victorian period. …show more content…
The `unmentionable' in his story inevitably carries sexual connotations, but homosexuality truly occupies the `sin' that cannot be named. Rather than supporting conventional Victorian attitudes about sexuality like most gothic fiction, Turn of the Screw actually critiques them.

Henry James's Turn of the Screw can be an incredibly frustrating and difficult story. It hints at much, but rarely states anything directly. The sheer number of possible interpretations of the events it describes can make it a difficult read, but the openness of the text to multiple interpretations is also, in some ways, the point of the novel. Henry James constructed his story in order to elude to sexual topics without stating anything explicitly. The very language of the story allows sexual implications to proliferate almost endlessly. James's story takes these tendencies to such an extreme, however, that it verges on a parody of Victorian sexual anxieties. The characters and narrator's refusal to address any of the obvious tensions directly seems to be a classic instance of denial. Ironically, the refusal to state anything explicitly breeds a ridiculous number of sexual connotations that includes every character in the story. Every word and every event is arranged so that it becomes almost impossible not to interpret it as sexual in some way. In this…