Gothic Collisions: Regarding Trauma in Margaret Drabble’s The Gates of Ivory
Margaret Drabble’s The Gates of Ivory highlights the challenges to responding to trauma by confronting protagonist Liz Headleand with the task of locating her friend Stephen Cox, who has disappeared in Cambodia. By initiating Liz’s crossing of the threshold from “Good Time” London to “Bad Time” Cambodia by way of the Gothic trope of the found narrative (a package containing Stephen’s unfinished play alongside fragments of human finger bone), the novel forces Liz to accept responsibility for trauma represented in the media and viewed at a distance. But despite her opportunity to move beyond mere spectatorship, Liz’s retreat back to her comfortable middle-class life suggests that trauma fiction as an ethical mode of writing is, perhaps, merely a convenient narrative absolving readers from true responsibility.
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