Toni Morrison's traditions of the Ghost Story.

Essay by JoekiltyUniversity, Bachelor'sB-, April 2003

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Discuss how Beloved revises and renews the tradition of the ghost story

Beloved is a ghostly novel. There is a question though, as to whether the character of Beloved is a ghost at all and if she is whether she falls into the African-American ghost genre or the classic Gothic ghost of American folk horror. There is evidence in the novel to support all three theories. Whether or not Beloved is actually the reincarnation of a ghost does not change the fact that she has a haunting effect on the novel as a whole and in many ways acts as a personification of the slave race collectively. Beloved can be said to be a symbol of the slaves who met their death during the years when the slave trade prospered, and in particular those who were on the slave ships which ferried between Africa and America.

There is evidence to suggest that the woman calling herself Beloved is not the reincarnation of a ghost but in fact a real person.

Sethe herself gives an explanation as to who this girl might be when she tells Denver: 'that she believed Beloved had been locked up by some whiteman for his own purposes and never let out of the door' (Page 235). There is a lot of evidence to suggest that Beloved is a ghost though, one such piece being that she has 'new skin, lineless and smooth' (Page 50). Sethe's explanation of this is that if Beloved was locked up from when she was a child and used only for sex: 'Folks say he had her in there since she was a pup' (Page 235). This would explain her not having the rough skin common among working slaves. Morrison makes the identity of Beloved ambiguous through such references. Whilst allowing it...