The Poor Clare, Elizabeth Gaskell
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The Poor Clare

The Poor Clare is a collection of short stories by the English novelist and writer Elizabeth Gaskell. The stories are believed to have considerable influence on the Gothic genre. In addition to the eponymous story, the collection includes “The Old Nurse’s Story” which centers around the tragedy of sixty-nine-year-old Mary McDonald who suffers from a lethal tumor and who, towards the end of her life, decides to advocate the rights of nurses. First serialized in Charles Dickens’s Household Words in 1856, “The Poor Clare” is another bleak story about ghosts, witchcraft and curses. The protagonist is Bridget Fitzgerald, an Irish Catholic woman who works as a servant and who is left alone by her only daughter. When a hunter named Gisborne shoots her faithful dog dead, she curses him. The cursed man happens to be her son in law, the one her daughter left with. Thus, Bridget’s own granddaughter becomes haunted by a ghostly double. When Bridget learns that she has cursed her own family, she decides to become a nun, joining the convent of the Poor Clares. Later, she starves herself to death in order to release her granddaughter from the curse.
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