The connection between ghosts and slavery-Lalaurie Haunted House narrative

Supernatural Folklore; Belief and Society

Ghost stories are among the most significant genre of supernatural folklore that has been narrated in movies, novels, articles and music across other platforms. From children’s tales to adult content, ghost characters are mostly used to explain an underlying subject that often unveils a moral lesson. In The Lalaurie Haunted House, the narrative demonstrates a dual structure whereby the ghostly apparition is used to unravel the historical aspect of slavery. Although the story primarily focuses on New Orleans, this setting is a representation of the numerous areas where slavery was practiced in the eighteenth century (Caro, 2015, p. 24). Reading The Lalaurie Haunted House helps to explain the connection between ghosts and slavery as narrated by several authors and artists in the context.

The Author’s Overall Argument

The author’s central argument implies that the ghost narrative regarding the hauntings in the Lalaurie house is a primary commentary on slavery before the civil war reforms. He explains that the ghosts are a representation and a significant reminder of the attitudes towards the chattel bondage that was significantly valued in New Orleans and how the residents of this place perceived and treated slaves (Caro, 2015, p. 38). Frank is critical in analyzing the connection between the history of the haunted house, including its residents and the element of slavery. Without the ghost tales that are told until today concerning the haunted house, the historical legend of the Lalaurie incident may have died as first as it was narrated.

Consequently, the author is keen on illustrating the essence of Madame Lalaurie in the legend, given that without her, the history of the haunted house is vague. There are several versions of Madam Lalaurie’s role in the narrative, as gathered by several writers. Still, they appear to agree that Lalaurie was a representation of other slave owners who defied slavery chords of the time (Caro, 2015, p. 35). By ill-treating her slaves, Lalaurie was perceived as a wrongdoer by many in her town, which implies that New Orleans is used to showing how people in the time dealt with the issue. The author suggests that New Orleans is set aside from other cities in the American South that also practiced slaveholding (Caro, 2015, p. 38). This emphasizes the setting of the narrative as a central ingredient regarding how the ghost stories rooted.

The author continuously argues that the ghost narratives of today regarding the haunted house serve as a reminder of the horrors of slavery, which is still present in different forms today. Moreover, Frank projects the community outrage in the Lalaurie incident as a moral counter note where citizens assert the rights of an oppressed population (Caro, 2015, p. 46).

Therefore, the haunted house legend is a central story based on the dramatic role it plays on commenting about a critical historical issue, slavery, rather than the characters used to tell the story, including Madame Lalaurie and residents of New Orleans. Overall, the author’s central argument overshadows the presence of ghost stories and focuses more on the accounts of slavery.

The Compilation of Data

The author supports his central argument using data from historical records and written accounts. Given that the legend is centuries old, Frank impressively connects different versions of the narrative to make this conclusion. The analysis begins with recounts about ghost stories as narrated by different people. These recounts focus on the ghostly part of the legend explaining the claims to date regarding the presence of ghosts in the haunted house (Caro, 2015, p. 25). The spirits are a representation of the slaves who were tortured by Delphine Lalaurie. To summarize these events, the author draws from the works of Saxon, Dreyer, and Tallant (Caro, 2015, p. 26). The qualitative data used by the author also includes newspaper segments and articles such as The Bee.

The author then explains the history segment of the legend using quotations from directories such as the New Orleans City Guide, which provides accurate records of the happenings. Moreover, Frank quotes directly from several volumes, including Victor C. Klein’s New Orleans Ghosts I, II, and III (Caro, 2015). To demonstrate the different versions of the Lalaurie story, the author uses written accounts of the incident as narrated by various writers, including Fredrika Bremer, George Cable, Henry Castellanos, and Martineau, among others (Caro, 2015). Consequently, Frank depicts timelines when these accounts were written to perhaps draw a map for the reader to connect the past to the present better.

Comparison to Other Authors

The author thoroughly builds his central argument around the concepts and perceptions of slavery rather than the ghost narratives. This route follows that of many other authors, including Cable and Castellanos (Caro, 2015, p.41). Several quoted writers focus more on recounting the Lalaurie incident regarding how the Creole woman tortured her slaves, how her actions were discovered, and her escape from mob violence. They, however, do not concentrate on the spiritual folklore of ghost existence, which may, at the beginning of the reading, appear to be the dominant context of the narrative.

The author significantly expresses the moral implications that the haunted house story draws as an anti-slavery message agreeing with sentiments from other authors, including Harriet Martineau (Caro, 2015, p.38). However, the author does not significantly refute the ghostly apparitions narrated by other writers such as Saxon. This helps to demonstrate the importance of the ghost narratives in the haunted house legend.

Critical Response

I contend with the author’s central argument regarding the use of the ghost narratives to unravel the much deeper context of the institution of slavery. People may not always believe in the existence of ghosts in the haunted house. Still, this oral tradition is a necessary reminder of a practice in historical tradition. The author is very keen on deriving a connection between the ghosts’ stories of the haunted mansion while convincing the audience that behind the rather scary tales lays a deeper meaning. By narrating the legend of Lalaurie, the reading concentrates on the nature of slavery at the time and the different community reactions. Moreover, the author’s choice of articles, books, pictorials, and quotations to support this argument makes it significantly relatable.

Consequently, I agree that the author demonstrates the purpose of the reading, which is to explain the historical significance of New Orleans in both the ghost legends and the historical narrative. The city is exonerated from supporting the horrors of slavery, as demonstrated by the mob outrage at the end of the story. The emphasis on citizen’s intolerance towards slave torture establishes New Orleans as a peaceful place which provides a foothold for the haunted house. However, the house is only a romanticized representation of the historical traditions of the eighteenth century.

I feel that the author should have emphasized on the ghost narratives at the beginning of the reading to romanticize the historical background a little further. The diversion towards the ancient story of Madame Lalaurie is inarguably very significant in providing a background to the ghost stories told today. However, that diversion critically overshadows the essence of the supernatural folklore in society, given that the ghost stories are merely mentioned rather than explained. For instance, the author could have narrated the presence of the ghosts relative to social beliefs. Do people have the same opinion today about the ghostly presence in the haunted house, or are they just a form of entertainment to tourists? Moreover, the author could have included recent quotations from people who lived in the mansion, such as Nicholas Cage.

This reading is essential in understanding the connection between ghostly legends and the historical background of such narratives. It opens a discussion about the essence of other ghost stories today and whether or not they have a more profound context to their existence. Supernatural folklore is very much alive today in different genres, including movies, and it is interesting to understand how they came to formation. Moreover, this reading creates a need to understand the importance of community intolerance to different forms of oppression that are existent today. These may include racism, gender violence, and sexual discrimination, among others. Overall the fact that the author borrows from other writings too makes one want to explore different opinions about the haunted house ghost narratives.

Ghost narratives are a significant genre in structuring the beliefs of society, and they also play an essential role in the evolution of oral tradition. Similar to other types of folklore, ghost narratives aim to reveal a deeper meaning to their existence, such as the slavery tradition explained by the haunted house story. Understanding the historical background of supernatural folklore helps to signify their presence today both as a form of entertainment and a message vessel with a moral inclination.

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