It’s late into the night. A full moon casts its shadow over the voluminous mansion, glittering spectrally upon the wet pavement leading to the home’s towering front door. Two masculine figures stand expectantly in the driveway, their eyes focused on the single road leading to the isolated home. Black limousines slowly glide towards the two figures. One by one, young unmarried women pour out of the vehicles. “I’m so nervous,” one confesses. “I can’t stop shaking,” whispers another. These women are welcomed into the home by the two men. The younger man is introduced as the “bachelor” of the home. He is eager to meet the women so that they may become his lovers before he singles out one as his wife. As the weeks progress, the women reside within the looming mansion together. Sometimes, the bachelor will reward one or a few of them by taking them on excursions beyond the house’s gates. As these women are not allowed any contact with the outside world, these outings are greatly desired. Without the distraction of friends, family, and work, the women find that their minds focus solely on the bachelor- what is he thinking? How does he feel about me? Will I be the chosen wife? Soon, something dreadful is discovered. Each week, a few of the women disappear. Not only are they no longer physically present in any of the mansion’s many chambers, but ominous figures dressed entirely in black have removed all traces of the disappeared women’s existence. The women remaining have little choice but to continue working towards their potential married future while avoiding the sinister fate to which so many before them have succumbed.
Although the above passage may sound like I’m describing the plot of a gothic romance, I’m actually summarizing the basic plot of ABC’s reality show staple, The Bachelor. I admit that I’m describing The Bachelor with a ton of gothic style, however, as this blog post will hopefully demonstrate, the connections between The Bachelor and the female gothic mode are numerous.
The focus for my American Gothic class this week is the female gothic. While reading some articles on this sub-genre, as well as “The Whisper in the Dark” by Louisa May Alcott, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “What a Thought” by Shirley Jackson, and selected poems by Emily Dickinson, my mind kept going to The Bachelor. Perhaps this was because of the “most dramatic finale ever” which viewers were graced with last night, but after some thought, I think it was because The Bachelor definitely borrows from this gothic mode.
WARNING: There may be some spoilers from various seasons of The Bachelor. I’ll try to keep it minimal.