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Looking back to see ahead: Reassessing The Snake Pit for its gothic codes and significance
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Margaret McallisterMargaret Mcallister, Donna BrienDonna Brien
While the linking of mental illness and the gothic is prevalent and persistent in the popular imagination, little sustained investigation has interrogated prominent examples of this co-relation and the typographies which can be drawn from such a consideration. In this context, we dissect The Snake Pit (1948) in order to investigate how the gothic operates in this classic and influential film, the filmic techniques used to establish and develop gothic elements and how mental illness is used to illuminate both aspects of societies in disarray and the cultural anxieties around this. In the process we will demonstrate the power of popular culture to not only describe, portray and define mental illness but also to illuminate the human condition and act as a powerful catalysing agent for change.