Dark Castle

Gafsen, Oliver (2023) Dark Castle. MFA thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis comprises the opening five chapters of my memoir, dealing with themes of addiction, masculinity, class privilege and illness. The story begins at Hammersmith Hospital, the night before I was due to have surgery to remove a tumour on my pancreas. The prologue explores the consequences of that surgery in the present tense, causing me to reflect on the sum of my life as I become increasingly unwell and am confronted with my own mortality.

The subsequent chapters switch to the past tense and are written in a reflective and at times distanced style as I come to terms with the childhood influences that shaped my behaviour as a young adult. This includes an exploration of my family’s immigration story and how my parents’ differing relationships with Judaism shaped my father’s insecurities with his own identity, as well as looking at learned connections between toxic masculinity and violence.

In the final chapters, I examine my school years, exploring the privilege of masculinity and class by juxtaposing my time playing for a local working-class rugby club with my experiences at a north London private school. I also begin to look at issues with mental illness, starting with my panic attacks and dealing with the public mental healthcare system, and my journey towards addiction, assessing damaging behaviours towards food and drugs.

As the story continues beyond the scope of this thesis, the memoir will chart my descent into heroin addiction, mapping a confluence of themes including masculinity, body image and sexuality before a recovery that came too late for the physical toll taken by years of abusing my body. At the end of the thesis, I have included an epilogue taken from the concluding chapters of my memoir, which ties back to the themes of illness which are explored at the beginning of the piece.

Item Type: Thesis (MFA)
Qualification Level: Masters
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Reeder, Dr. Elizabeth and Strachan, Dr. Zoe
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83507
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2023 11:54
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2023 12:06
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83507
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/83507

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