A bifurcated ideology allows for the possibility of contradictory moral behavior. For example, the church may be represented in a good light in a scene of worship wherein a lofty sermon elevates the entire congregation. The same church is then also portrayed as an evil organization when members of the clergy torture the heroine in a dungeon (an example from The Monk). In a bifurcated ideology, the subject can be good and evil at the same time. Bifurcated ideologies are fairly common in the Gothic, where the shifting, distrustful nature of characters’ relationships lends itself well to the notion that good and evil could inhabit the same person or institution.
The origin of this term in Gothic scholarship is unclear, however it may have its roots in sociology, ethnography, or history, where it is more commonly used. Mikhail Bahktin used the word 'bifurcated' in The Dialogic Imagination when preparing to apply his theory of heteroglossia to novelistic prose. Heteroglossia, according to Bahktin, "is another's speech in another's language, serving to express authorial intentions but in a refracted way." Bahktin further explains that "such speech constitutes a special type of double-voiced discourse. It serves two speakers at the same time and expresses simultaneously two different intentions: the direct intention of the character who is speaking, and the refracted intention of the author. In such discourse there are two voices, two meanings and two expressions." It is a short leap from two expressions and meanings to two ideologies in discourse; perhaps the wording of this theory creates a bridge between disciplines by which the term 'bifurcated ideology' makes its entrée to literary analysis.
Courtesy of Wendy Fall, Marquette University
Bakhtin, M. M., Caryl Emerson, and Michael Holquist. The Dialogic Imagination : Four Essays. Austin : University of Texas Press, 1981. Print.
Horatio and Camilla; OR, THE NUNS OF ST. MARY. A TALE OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY [Transcript], Sarah Scudgell Wilkinson