Fall On Your Knees

The 'New Gothic' in Fall On Your Knees

Anne Marie MacDonald’s Fall On Your Knees contains many Gothic conventions – an eerie mood, an isolated house and castle, supernatural encounters, and secrets from the past that advance the plot. However, MacDonald’s characters do not conform to the Gothic standard. Rather, these well-formed heroines and intricate plot line make the novel much more modern than a typical Gothic one. It addresses issues of gender and sexuality that are relevant to today’s society.

MacDonald’s first twist on the Gothic standard has to do with setting. The classic Gothic story takes place in an isolated house or decrepit castle, but given modern ability to travel and communicate, true isolation is nearly impossible. Instead, MacDonald places the Pipers’ home in an isolated area that later became populated: “[The town] had sprung up overnight…the Piper house was suddenly on a street” (p.38-9). The home is still on the outskirts of town, though, on “an avenue… that leads out past the edge of town to where the wide, keeling graveyard overlooks the ocean” (1). The Pipers live between the known and unknown, halfway between civilization and ocean.

The sense of isolation is also captured in MacDonald’s depiction of the house’s attic as a place distinct from...

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