Hellish horses and monstrous men: Gothic horsemanship in Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Mills offers the first study of the horse and horsemanship in Gothic fiction, focusing on Washington Irving’s ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ and Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Metzengerstein’. Horses were a popular symbol of masculinity in Romantic-period Europe and America, where the rider’s appropriation of the horse’s body as an extension of his own signalled his masculine dominance over the natural world. This chapter examines the ways that Irving and Poe engage with this equine symbol in order to expose the Gothic potential for terror, brutality, and loss of the human within such close pairing of man and animal. It focuses particularly on their construction and development of the Demonic Horse as a Gothic monster that posits human and animal as uncanny doubles, drawing on equine folklore and the ballads of Gottfried August Bürger and Sir Walter Scott to critique the limits of, and reveal the animal potential within, nineteenth-century masculinity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGothic animals
Subtitle of host publicationuncanny otherness and the animal with-out
EditorsRuth Heholt, Melissa Edmundson
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783030345402
ISBN (Print)9783030345396
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Animals and Literature
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


  • literature
  • literature and history - Great Britain - history - 19th century
  • literary criticism
  • literary history
  • gothic
  • Gothic fiction
  • Gothic horror
  • Animals in literature
  • folklore
  • supernatural
  • ghosts
  • Horses
  • Horsemanship
  • Masculinity
  • Masculinity in literature
  • Gender
  • American literature


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