Challenging the Victorian Nuclear Family Myth: The Incest Trope in Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak

  • Dina Pedro Universitat de València


(Neo-)Victorian literature offers contradictory conceptualisations of the nuclear family. While it usually revolves around traditional heteroparental households, at the same time it portrays them as fragmented and deeply flawed. Guillermo del Toro’s film Crimson Peak (2015) builds on domestic traumas, the dysfunctional family and the supernatural, three recurrent tropes in (neo-)Victorian Gothic fiction. My main aim is to explore how Del Toro exploits the incest plotline in order to subvert preconceived views on the idealised Victorian family. I first analyse the ancestral family house and the mother figure as the loci of family traumas. I then move on to examine the Sharpe siblings’ incestuous relationship from a threefold perspective involving ethics, aesthetics and psychoanalysis, thereby showing that Del Toro exposes nineteenth-century family traumas that are still present in contemporary societies, so that audiences may become aware of these social issues and even take an active stance against them.

Author Biography

Dina Pedro, Universitat de València
Dina Pedro is a PhD student at the Universitat de València, where she works under the supervision of Dr. Laura Monrós and Dr. Rosario Arias. She holds an FPU grant, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (MICIU). She is a member of the “Literatura, Arte y Espectáculo” (LAP) research group at the Universitat de València (GIUV2017-354) and a coinvestigator on the research project “Orientation: Una perspectiva dinámica sobre la ficción y la cultura contemporáneas (1990-en adelante),” funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitivity (FFI2017-86417-P). Her academic interests range from neo-Victorian fiction and adaptation studies to trauma studies and their application to literature and audiovisual arts.


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