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Thursday, November 14, 2013

We Have Always Lived in Fright option #5

Chase Mackey
14 November 2013

We Have Always Lived in Fright

In Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle there are many frightful events that occur. Merricat narrates the novel and we are biased by her perception of events. The fact that she poisoned the majority of her family definitely scared me, in that she is a young girl. The connotation that goes hand in hand with young girls is innocence, but innocence is far from an accurate description of Merricat. Her odd obsession with Constance also concerned me somewhat. Constance was deliberately kept alive and I could not help but think Merricat was saving the best kill for last. Thankfully, this was not the case. Merricat begins the novel saying “I have often thought that with any luck at all, I could have been born a werewolf… Everyone else in our family is dead” (Jackson 1). This definitely creates a creepy vibe and sets the rest of the novel up perfectly.
The suspense is felt the entire novel and many Gothic tropes were used successfully. The Uncanny is the trope that I noticed most often, especially in reference to Merricat. Merricat has witch-like qualities that aroused a sense of fear. Witches are typically thought of as not being real, but Merricat is able to make the reader second guess that thought. A real life event that occurred not too long ago in Idaho mirrors the novel quite well. Sarah Johnson, 16 year-old Idaho resident, snapped on her parents one afternoon when she was told that she was to stop seeing her 19 year-old boyfriend. Sarah Johnson then reacted erratically and killed both of her parents. This is very similar to Merricat in that she was sent up to her room for misbehaving and also reacted harshly by poisoning her family. The essential difference is that Sarah Johnson was caught and Merricat was not.
I would recommend this novel to a friend without a doubt. I was actively reading this on the edge of my couch night after night. Shirley Jackson is able to keep the reader consistently engaged the entire time through the thrilling, unraveling plot. I would rate this novel at a 5 because of the thrill I experienced when realizing that Merricat was behind all the madness.

Richardson, Michael A. "Profile of Idaho Teen Killer Sarah Johnson." Crime / Punishment. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2013.

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