Gothic Animals pp 223-240 | Cite as

Hellish Horses and Monstrous Men: Gothic Horsemanship in Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)


Mills offers the first study of the horse and horsemanship in Gothic fiction, focusing on Washington Irving’s ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ and Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Metzengerstein’. Horses were a popular symbol of masculinity in Romantic-period Europe and America, where the rider’s appropriation of the horse’s body as an extension of his own signalled his masculine dominance over the natural world. This chapter examines the ways that Irving and Poe engage with this equine symbol in order to expose the Gothic potential for terror, brutality, and loss of the human within such close pairing of man and animal. It focuses particularly on their construction and development of the Demonic Horse as a Gothic monster that posits human and animal as uncanny doubles, drawing on equine folklore and the ballads of Gottfried August Bürger and Sir Walter Scott to critique the limits of, and reveal the animal potential within, nineteenth-century masculinity.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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