A Long History

Rise of Spiritualism

Industrial Revolution

Industrialism and Ghosts

Post-bellum America

Supernatural and Hope

Supernatural Restores Faith

Ghosts Build Communities

Comfort to Bereaved

Why the Supernatural was Entertaining

Transcending the Real

Ghosts and Mystery

Ghosts and Thrills

Entertainers Cash In

Laughing at Ghosts 

Anthony Hopper






















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Why Were Americans Interested in the Supernatural?

Ghost Stories Provided a Needed Thrill (con.)

Other ghost stories of the period were similar in nature. The protagonist’s life in “The Shape of Fear” resembled that of many post-bellum Americans—dull and uninteresting. The character also admitted he was afraid of ghosts because they represented the unknown world that awaited him after his physical demise; a world that he dreaded because he didn't know what it was like. His fears engaged the interests of others around him in part because the talk of spirits and their connections to the death realm provided a contrast to these mens' comfortable but uneventful lives (3). Part of the suspense in “The Monkey’s Paw,” which appeared in a 1902 issue of Harper’s Monthly, revolved around whether or not a family's son would come back from the grave to visit his parents (4).









Last update 

September 8, 2004











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