The Romantic Conventions of the "Haunted Melodrama"

  • Zachary Z. E. Bennett


THE ROMANTIC CONVENTIONS OF THE "HAUNTED MELODRAMA" THE NEXUS between love and death has been fodder for artists at least since antiquity. In Greek mythology, Orpheus famously descended into Hades in a fruitless attempt to retrieve his wife Eurydice from death. In his Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri, after passing through hell and purgatory, is guided through paradise by his beloved Beatrice. The human preoccupation with the twin forces of love and death was best (and most frequently) expressed, however, by the artists of the Romantic movement. In more recent history, artists and directors working in the field of cinema resurrected many Romantic conventions in treating the same subject matter. Their collective work can be roughly collected into a film genre known as "haunted melodrama."(1) Before exploring the application of Romantic conventions to haunted melodramas, it is first necessary to establish the philosophical foundation of these Romantic conventions. In...