Document Type


Degree Comments

Submitted to the College of Graduate Studies Bridgewater State University Bridgewater, Massachusetts in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in English

Degree Program


Degree Type

Masters of Arts in English


Particular to the Irish gothic, a postcolonial history seems to repeat itself in Anne Enright’s The Gathering. The victims of an atrocious sexual crime seem to circulate this hidden secret that all tragedy revolves around, yet no one is willing to speak about it. Enright suggests that the same oppressed past of Ireland’s history keeps creeping up to the surface, even in the twenty-first century. Veronica and Liam Hegarty, Enright’s main characters, demonstrate one of the main tropes of the gothic where no matter how long one might suppress a memory, it is bound to come back and reveal the truth behind the suffering. Veronica’s memory loss is where she seems to be pushing past secrets deeper into her psyche everything comes back to the surface. Through the intergenerational sexual trauma that the reader witnesses in the family home, we see that silence is inherited from Veronica’s mother and grandmother. Veronica’s oppression can no longer be contained within the domestic interior of the family when she learns that the oppressor, Lambert Nugent is the landowner of the family’s home where the sexual crime occurs. Ownership of the land is at the heart of many Irish narratives, particularly those that pursue a gothic framework. As gothic novels depend on readers to question everything, Enright made sure we ask those questions as she creates an unreliable narrator in Veronica, whose memory keeps us questioning the doomed events that led this family to close in on itself, particularly the intergenerational sexual assault. In a way that mirrors Ireland’s colonialism and the “rape” of its nation one generation after the other, history eventually lands on Veronica, pushing her to release that oppression and begin to make sense of her family history and, therefore, the nation. When it comes to Irish literature where a reader can, almost always, read the nation in its pages, can one separate between the postcolonial and the gothic? Is it possible that in both categories, postcolonial reading imposes its presence in the texts and in return manifests itself as it starts fitting into many gothic tropes? I believe both exist simultaneously at the heart of Enright’s The Gathering.


Ellen Scheible