The typical Gothic mother is absent or dead. The repression of the mother allows the progression of the narrative in the Gothic mode. The missing mother also serves as a social commentary in which her absence and silence highlight the repression of women within an overwhelming and stifling patriarchal regime.
The missing mother points to the absence of regulation and the absence of stability in the family, hence the desire for the male characters to usurp the maternal role and circumvent the female’s role in procreation (Victor Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll do that in their respective fictional worlds). At the same time, the missing mother is a signifier for the stranglehold of men over the legal and physical self-agency of the women in Gothic texts.
Courtesy of Choo Li Lin, 2006, National University of Singapore class: EN 4223 - Topics in the Nineteenth Century: The Gothic and After, Gothic Keywords project .
The Affecting History of the Duchess of C**** Who Was Confined Nine Years in a Horrid Dungeon, Under Ground, Where Light Never Entered, a Straw Bed Being Her Only Resting Place, and Bread and Water Her Only Support, Conveyed by Means of a Turning-Box, by Her Inhuman Husband; Whom She Saw but Once During Her Long Imprisonment, Though Suffering by Hunger, Thirst, and Cold, the Most Severe Hardships, But Fortunately She Was at Last Discovered, and Released from the Dungeon, By Her Parents. [Transcript], Stéphanie Félicité Genlis