"Penny Dreadful" (2014-2016). Postmodern mythology and ontology of otherness
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Monterrubio-Ibáñez, L. (Lourdes). ""Penny Dreadful" (2014-2016). Postmodern mythology and ontology of otherness". Communication & Society. 33 (1), 2020, 15 - 28
The television series Penny Dreadful (2014-2016) is an appropriation, intertextuality and transfiction exercise of four modern myths from nineteenth-century literature –Frankenstein (Mary Shelley, 1818), The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson, 1886), The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde, 1891) and Dracula (Bram Stoker, 1897)– to which the mythological figure of the lycanthrope is added. This myth syncretism is completed by linking these characters, located in the Victorian London of the late 19th century, with different mythologies: biblical, Egyptian, American West, Native American or witch mythology. The article aims to analyse, focusing on the final season of the series, how the narrative complexity of contemporary seriality and the different materialisations of postmodern image –multiplex-image, distance-image and excessimage– become perfect tools to both narrate the identity search of the different characters and subvert and resemantise these modern myths. Their identity searches emerge from an ontology of otherness that defines postmodernity –from otherness of conscience to otherness of other people–, using the mythical figure of the monster. It allows then the subversion and resemantisation of each mythical character, generating a kind of postmodern mythology that reflects on our contemporaneity: feminist emancipation and violent revolution, patriarchy and machismo, family institution, social marginalisation, individualism and lack of commitment, classism and racism.

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