Some Words with Poe and Stoker: Changing Mummies in Nineteenth-Century Gothic Literature


  • James Inkster Newcastle Univeristy


Poe, Gothic, Nineteenth Century, Mummy, Stoker


Centring on Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Some Words With A Mummy’ and Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars, this paper argues that Poe and Stoker present the Gothic figure of the mummy as an ever-changing entity with a beneficial impact on Victorian society. Past scholarship has read the nineteenth-century literary mummy as a dangerously enlivened commodity, or else as an anticolonial power with (to imperialist eyes) too much terrifying agency. Conversely, I assert that Poe and Stoker render an impression of the mummy that is more active and changeable than a collectible object, and one which actually celebrates the mummy’s extended liveliness. This paper therefore demonstrates how Poe and Stoker resist the objectification of the mummy and the belief that its power is excessive or rebellious and monstrous, and instead construct a celebratory impression of its resurrection, seeming to prefer animacy and changefulness to fixity and sameness. To that end, they wrap their mummies in a particular covering of dynamic and ambiguous language, and so they encourage its reanimation by way of their descriptions and their plots. From a political and philosophical perspective, this paper suggests a connection between these depictions of the mummy and the ideology of progress that ran throughout the 1800’s, and claims that by conjuring a vision of the mummy that is moving and altering forever, Poe and Stoker attempt to align what would otherwise be frozen and static with the nineteenth-century current of development and change.


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How to Cite

Some Words with Poe and Stoker: Changing Mummies in Nineteenth-Century Gothic Literature. (2024). Postgraduate English: A Journal and Forum for Postgraduates in English, 45.