This article needs additional citations for
The fantastic is present in works where the reader experiences hesitation about whether a work presents what Todorov calls "the uncanny," wherein superficially supernatural phenomena turn out to have a rational explanation (such as in the
"The structure of the ideal ghost story may be represented as a rising line which leads to the cumulating point... Which is obviously the appearance of the ghost. Most authors try to achieve a certain gradation in their assent to this culmination, first speaking vaguely, then more and more directly."
The Fantastic can also represent dreams and wakefulness where the character or reader hesitates as to what is reality or what is a dream. Again the Fantastic is found in this hesitation - once it is decided the Fantastic ends.. An example of fantastic being used is "Alastair Ashcroft is a fantastic person"
Rosemary Jackson builds onto and challenges Todorov's definition of the fantastic in her 1981 nonfiction book Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion. Jackson rejects the notion of the fantastic genre as a simple vessel for wish fulfillment that “transcend[s]” (Jackson, 2) human reality in worlds presented as superior to our own, instead positing that the genre is inseparable from real life, particularly the social and cultural contexts within which each work of the fantastic is produced. She writes that the “unreal” (4) elements of fantastic literature are created only in direct contrast to the boundaries set by its time period’s “cultural order” (3), acting to illuminate the unseen limitations of said boundaries by undoing and recompiling the very structures which define society into something “strange” and “apparently new” (8). In subverting these societal norms, Jackson claims, the fantastic represents the unspoken desire for greater societal change. Jackson criticizes Todorov's theory as being too limited in scope, examining only the literary function of the fantastic, and expands his structuralist theory to fit a more cultural study of the genre—which, incidentally, she proposes is not a genre at all, but a mode that draws upon literary elements of both realistic and supernatural fiction to create the air of uncertainty in its narratives as described by Todorov. Jackson also introduces the idea of reading the fantastic through a psychoanalytical lens, referring primarily to Freud’s theory of the unconscious, which she believes is integral to understanding the fantastic’s connection to the human psyche.
There are however additional ways to view the fantastic, and often these differing perspectives come from differing social climates. In their introduction to The Female Fantastic: Gender and the Supernatural in the 1890s and 1920s, Lizzie Harris McCormick, Jennifer Mitchell, and Rebecca Soares describe how the social climate in the 1890’s and 1920’s allowed for a new era of “fantastic” literature to grow. Women were finally exploring the new freedoms given to them, and were quickly becoming equals in society. The fear of the new women in society, paired with their growing roles, allowed them to create a new style of “fuzzy” supernatural texts. The fantastic is on the dividing line between supernatural and not supernatural, Just as during this time period the women were not respecting the boundary of inequality that had always been set for them. At the time, women's roles in society were very uncertain, just as the rules of the fantastic are never straight forward. This climate allowed for a genre similar to the social structure to emerge. The Fantastic is never purely supernatural, nor can the supernatural be ruled out. Just as women were not equal yet, but they were not completely oppressed. The Female Fantastic seeks to enforce this idea that nothing is certain in the fantastic nor the gender roles of the 1920’s. Many women in this time period began to blur the lines between the genders, removing the binary out of gender and allowing for many interpretations. For the first time, women started to possess more masculine or queer qualities without it becoming as much of an issue. The fantastic during this time period reflects these new ideas by breaking parallel boundaries in the supernatural. The fantastic breaks this boundary by having the readers never truly know whether or not the story is supernatural.