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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Powerlessness and Terror

Clarissa Robles
Professor Jackson-Waggoner
American Gothic
3 September 2013
Option 1A

          While the movie and short story The Veldt each have their own version of gory details, they both definitely incorporate the sublime motif. That is—“to inspire powerlessness and terror.” The short story reflects the sublime in the children and the parents while the movie only reflects the sublime in the parents.
            When George shuts off the nursery Peter exclaims “Don’t let them do it! Don’t let Father kill everything. Oh, I hate you! I wish you were dead! (Bradbury 275).” This powerful feeling seems to bring utmost terror to Peter as though he cannot imagine life without the nursery the way we cannot imagine life without water. It is obvious that when the parents are begging their children to open the door and start screaming, they are totally powerless. So the sublime seems to go both ways in the short story as the children and parents have moments of powerlessness and terror.
            However, in the movie, the children seem to be condescending and cynical. Peter and Wendy talk down to their parents by calling them by their first names and lying about the nursery being Africa. Although they also do this in the short story, the gazes of Peter and Wendy create a chilling effect that is not visible in the text. The only characters that appear to reflect the sublime in the movie are the parents. The sublime is most apparent when George and Lydia are searching for Peter and Wendy in the nursery and realize their own children have tricked them and locked them in the nursery. Peter and Wendy do the unthinkable as we can assume they kill George and Lydia when we see blood splattered on the door.
            We see a power struggle in the children and parents but both groups at some point feel threatened by the other. Powerlessness and terror reign throughout the text and movie and are what really give the story its gothic touch.

Works Cited:

Bradbury, Ray. "The Veldt." American Gothic Tales. Ed. Joyce Carol Oates. New York: Plume, 1996. 264-77. Print.

"Ray Bradbury Theater (The Veldt)." N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Sept. 2013. <>.

The Ray Bradbury Theater. Prod. Seaton McLean. Alliance Atlantis, 1985. DVD.

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