|Kipling appears to be manipulating fear for the entertainment of his readers, fear of unknown forces which lie the other side of the familiar world, and fear for the human mind, which is vulnerable to invasion.|
Dream and Hallucination as symptoms
Shortly after Christmas 1876, Georgie Burne-Jones, wife of the painter, caught her eleven-year-old nephew, Ruddy, at the bottom of her London garden, striking out with a stick at a tree. When she asked what he was doing, ‘I thought it might be Grandma but I had to hit it to make sure,’ he replied.
Georgie was alarmed by what she read as the signs of disturbance and she put investigations in train. As a result, Ruddy’s mother returned from India to reclaim him with his younger sister, Trix from ‘The House of Desolation’ as he would come to call it, in Southsea. They had been living there in the care of a foster-mother, Mrs. Holloway, a woman who turned out to be an unfortunate choice. A strict Evangelical, her piety was of the kind that takes pleasure in manipulating fear.
As a man of seventy, Kipling recalled Mrs. Holloway with bitterness, in his autobiography, Something of Myself: ‘I had never heard of Hell, so I was introduced to it in all its terrors’ he wrote. I will explore the damaging impact of this encounter more deeply in due course. Yet in his maturity as an artist, he was able to extract some benefit. Over time, writing sensational stories about dreams brought to the surface his own intimate knowledge of terror and guilt. This was gold dust to him as a writer.