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Home » » Analyze the gothic character Beloved

Beloved is presented as an allegorical figure. Whether she is Sethe’s daughter, Sethe’s mother, or a representative of all of slavery’s victims, Beloved represents the past returned to haunt the present. The characters’ confrontations with Beloved and, consequently, their pasts, are complex. The interaction between Beloved and Sethe is given particular attention in the book. Once Sethe reciprocates Beloved’s violent passion for her, the two become locked in a destructive, exclusive, parasitic relationship. When she is with Beloved, Sethe is paralyzed in the past. Beloved allows and inspires Sethe to tell the stories she never fells. By engaging with her past, Sethe begins to learn about herself and the extent of her ability to live in the present. 

Beloved also inspires the growth of other characters in the novel. Though Paul D’s hatred for Beloved never ceases, their strange, dreamlike sexual encounters open the lid of his “tobacco tin” heart, allowing him to remember, feel, and love again, Denver benefits the most from Beloved's presence, though indirectly, At first she feels an intense dependence on Beloved, convinced that in Beloved's absence she has no “self" of her own, Later, however, Beloved's increasingly malevolent, temperamental, self-centered actions alert Denver to the dangers of the past Beloved represents. Ultimately, Beloved’s tyranny over Sethe forces Denver to leave 124 and seek help in the community, Denver's exile from 124 marks the beginning of her: social integration and of her search for independence and self possession. 

Beloved is the manifestation of a murdered two-year old in a 20 year old body. Her mind and actions speak as a child not an adult. She loves her mother and wants her all to herself like a typical two year old child. She even loves Denver though she is jealous of her and the relationship Denver has had with her mother. She is also jealous that she survived. The reversal of power from Sethe to Beloved is when the vampiric nature of Beloved intensifies. In the novel the vampiric or parasitic aspect of motherhood is amplified. Like the fetus is a parasite to the mother whose uterus it is sucking life from and continues to nourish its body by gleaning the nutrients from the mother’s body after birth by nursing. Sethe’s mental capacities decline because she has given up any thought of life other than focusing on the baby she murdered. Her own guilt about the act allows her to become entrapped by Beloved. As the author is female, she could depict the mother child relationship and the feelings of the women more effectively. 

Although Beloved vanishes at the end of the book, she is never really gone—her dress and her story, forgotten by the town but preserved by the novel, remain. Beloved represents a destructive and painful past, but she also signals the possibility of a brighter future. She gives the people of 124, and eventually the entire community, a chance to engage with the memories they have suppressed, Through confrontation, the community can reclaim and learn from its forgotten and ignored memories. 


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