Gothic tales have certain characteristics that make them gothic tales.
Whether they be the creation of fear and anxiety or the simultaneous attraction and
repulsion of a character. Doris Bett’s Hitchhiker deviates quite greatly from these
main characteristics. This is made even more apparent when contrasted to other
gothic tales such as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Birthmark, a story which sticks very
closely to the standard characteristics of a gothic tale. Doris Betts gothic tales
deviates from standard gothic literature in 2 main categories, the creation of fear
and anxiety in the story and the simultaneous attraction and repulsion to a main
character. This will be proven with the use of both texts in the following chapters.
The main character of Doris Betts Hitchhiker Rose Marie Duffy or Duffy as
will be referred to lacks the creation of fear and anxiety that The Birthmark does
due to its attitude towards life and death. This is evident as Duffys attitude toward
her plummenst off a bridge and into a river in her car is almost that of peaceful. “The
current was sluggish and she had no diffifculty turning into it, The brown water
halfway up her window, and heading downstream.” This attitude almost feels as if
Duffy is disassociated from reality and not giving the reader a sense of fear. This is
contrasted by Nathaniel Howthornes tales of the Birth mark attitude towards death.
Duffys attitude towards her own death is this quote is a microcosm of her hole
attitude towards her own life throught the story. “ I have already administered
agent powerful enough to do aught except to change your entire physical system.
Only one thing remains to be tried. If that fails we are ruined.” The main character
Alymer is hestitant to administer his last agent to his wife due to its possible
dangerous nature.This gives the reader an anxious feeling of the unknown danger
with a simultaneous fear of failure but also curiousity of success. Yet this is not how
the author goes about telling her “Gothic Tale” in Hitchhiker as Duffy sits in her car
about to drown from the water pushing in on the car around her she seems peaceful
and disinterested in her impending death. “Duffy laid her head against the seat,
watching shadows fall on the water ahead of the car and pour through the window shield, cool on her face. She closed her eyes and could still see them, through her
eyelids, like clouds.” With Duffy so relaxed and indifferent about her own death it
leave the reader with no sense of fear or anxiety to weather Duffy will survive or not
and giving us almost a sense of peace Fear and anxiety are a main characteristic of
Gothic tales and the tale Hitchhiker doesn’t just deviate from this characteristic it