Revengeful Ghosts: The Woman in Black (Hill, 1983), Beloved (Morrison, 1987)

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Both novels reflect the brutal abjection of and widespread culturally produced damage done to those denigrated as ‘others’, here women, their bodies, their own and others’ vulnerable children, each indicting deadly unequal societies and expressing a potential threatening legacy. Susan Hill’s novel leaves the ghostly woman in black, Jennet Humfrye, to hover outside house and society following the terrible death of her illegitimate son Nathaniel, her own reason to live. Socially, she is driven by revenge, damning and destroying the village children. Spectral, dressed in black, haunting graveyards, wreaking revenge on families. She is a recognisable ghost, and an overt socially critical figure taking revenge on an unfair social system. Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) is a sweepingly powerful ghost story, played out on tightly local, domestic and broad levels, culturally, globally indicting all complicit in the enslavement and dehumanisation of others, here in transatlantic, plantation slavery. A dead baby girl ghost returns, a full-grown woman, shattering the restrained, disturbed silence of infanticide produced by genocide. The house, as others, is haunted by the angry, destructive, sad legacy of slavery embodied in a small family and in women’s bodies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContemporary Women's Ghost Stories
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)97830308905443
ISBN (Print)9783030890537
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2022

Publication series

NamePalgrave Gothic
ISSN (Print)2634-6214
ISSN (Electronic)2634-6222

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cultural Studies


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