I was also quite taken by Gilbert's passage regarding patriarchal society as it relates to female authors who grew up with little feminine influence from a mother:
If all women writers, metaphorical orphans in patriarchal culture, seek literary answers to the questions 'How are we fal'n/Fal'n by mistaken rules...?' motherless orphans like Mary Shelley and Emily Bronte almost seem to seek literal answers to that question, so passionately do their novels enact distinctive female literary obsessions (380)I'm unsure how I feel regarding this passage; surely the lack of a mother figure in real life, compounded by being raised in a patriarchal culture, do influence a woman writer's work to an extent, but I don't quite understand what Gilbert means by "seeking literal answers". Perhaps she is saying that the way Shelley and Bronte portrayed their characters in their works was actually a way of projecting themselves onto their work and seeing how they would react in various circumstances?
But this seems rather far-fetched; for an author to place themselves so closely to a novel in that way while maintaining the objectivity needed to see how they would function in such a situation is next to impossible. Perhaps I'm misinterpreting Gilbert's claim.
I also enjoyed Gilbert's analysis of imprisonment from a Gothic perspective. Her analysis of how being imprisoned and starved (in both physical and metaphorical senses) brought to light some fascinating suggestions:
Starvation--both in the modern sense of malnutrition and the archaic Miltonic sense of freezing ("to starve in ice")--leads to weakness, immobility, death (391)Starving in ice is a bountiful image of isolation and loneliness, and it helps to allow the reader to understand more parallels between Milton and Bronte in their work.
Gilbert's analysis was a rather thought-provoking read, and she may prove to be interesting as a reference in future Gothic novels, if that is her area of expertise.