The irruption of the abnormal into the normal is central to conceptions of the weird tale in general and the Gothic in particular. It takes a number of different forms, and there are multiple interpretations of the role of this trope, or the reasons for its significance. Gothic acts in part as a response to eighteenth century Augustan thought, which raised the idea of reason as a way of understanding the secrets of the universe. However, as David Punter has pointed out, ‘Reliance on reason may appear to remove mystery, but only at the expense of outlawing large expanses of actual experience, the experience of the emotions, the passions’ (1996a, p. 24). This means that ‘rationalism will be a self-defeating system because that which cannot be thus assimilated will therefore become all the more taboo; reason will create its own enemies’ (Punter 1996a, p. 24). Where a superstitious world-view could be conceived as reducing fear of the unnatural, because anything could be made to fit into that world-view as ‘natural’, a rationalist world-view excludes and therefore makes seemingly ‘unnatural’ those things which it cannot explain. Emotion itself could even be seen as something to be feared and distrusted.
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