gothic literature essay examples

gothic literature essay examples

Analyzing Gothic Literature

1. Introduction

To dwell on them too strongly would be the practice of some more recent critics, and the error or minor deficiency arises from the title itself. But, what exactly is Gothic? As echoed not only in the title but throughout the text, Gothic is something that “Goths” did, or participated in, and hence is over. However, the further one reads into Mark’s text, the less tenuous the tie becomes. How is this possible? Settings described in these stories are all from the pre-Gothic eighteenth-century period, making the genre time-bound. True, the “Renaissance architect theorist” Palladio, became widely known in England during the Gothic period.

To analyze this vast literature, one must first decide on a limiting set of criteria. The most obvious has already been established: time. It is easy to see how much the literary concerns of some works would alter or vanish after Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or Bram Stoker’s Dracula. However, these conventions did not simply appear one day, from out of nowhere. First, there had been much that might all be called “Gothic” tradition: stories of things bizarre, chilling, ominous, and frightening. This classification might include, but need not be limited to or by, the actual Gothic period that Europeans name for the Middle Ages. Critics have been worrying about categories for about as long, but with lesser effect, than readers.

2. Characteristics of Gothic Literature

Nothing else can be called gothic. Not even Edgar Allan Poe wrote an authentic gothic tale. And dedicated followers of the pattern, throughout its upsurge and its atrophy, were rare. What there was of it rarely straddled the Atlantic as did the much more fecund following of Simms and Cooper. Setting was the major constituent in the gothic novels. To produce an atmosphere of unease, to create an impression of the malignance and foreboding projected by an ancient building, the gothic storyteller moved his participants, accompanied by none of the paraphernalia of magic or necromancy, across the threshold of a monstrous and malformed places. Walls and roof, windows and doors were deftly transformed into prophetic and sinister symbols of the ominous happenings within. Sinister events, prophecies of doom long preserved in the local legends were pervasively suggested.

The gothic novel has a rich tradition and offers many themes for students to explore. Some of the writing elements discussed in the goals are: gothic setting, Byronic hero, tragic hero, doppelganger, motifs—curse, revenge, powers of darkness, etc. These subjects offer a myriad of options to explore and the resources provided are valuable tools to guide the exploration. The gothic novel lasted for only half a century, and it was not prolific: Horace Walpole wrote The Castle of Otranto (1764) and book-ended it with prefaces intended to connive at its fictitiousness; Ann Radcliffe had published The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and The Italian (1796) before she died in 1823, most of Matthew Lewis’ works are from 1812 and 1816; Monk Lewis, William Beckford, and a few other authors filled in the gap.

3. Themes in Gothic Literature

Relic and Curse: Gothic literature often symbolically reflects unnatural forms of inheritance that have been born from curses and sufferings within them, causing unwanted consequences for society and their descendants. Relic and Curse objects contain many Gothic symbols, fears, desires, magical powers, visions, and even embodied, such as father/son, beloved, life/soul, etc. In the Gothic novel, Gothic and Curses often turn out to be the experiences of seriously reflecting personal and cultural agonizing revelations. The ultimate goal of this kind of reflection is to adhere to a deeper faith. Since Gothic fiction emphasizes the emphasis on the future of individuals trying to hide pain from themselves in structures and trinkets, the ending might be equivalent to the enlightenment of understanding and acceptance of the existence of limits.

Distribution of knowledge and secrecy: This is the usual characteristic of Gothic literature, whose origins and titles are usually closely related to it. The protagonists pursue knowledge and truth but are always warned by ambiguous information or secret threats like a line of voices and minus codes. Behind the door, as a symbol of unknown binary opposites. Knowledge itself also tends to be controversial. Sometimes they obtain knowledge through birthright and achieve a good purpose, while those gained through performances often have a devastating effect. With these symbolic devices, Gothic deeply questions the medium’s knowledge, truth, and related concepts and forces the reader to be curious and think while reading. Prison, dungeon, and body cell Gothic narratives often evoke the archetypal pattern of the underworld journey associated with many epics, Bible stories, or, for example, Jon Dante’s Inferno.

Growth as a result of pain: Such growth refers to good changes, sacrifices, self-realization, and redemption of characters under the pressure of extreme conditions. In Gothic literature, these include mainly women or non-hegemonic characters. Here, Gothic’s dramatization and reversal of the treatment that mainstream society generally gives to such women not only warn of the misfortunes and sorrows endured by these unfortunate women but also evoke the emotions hidden behind the mask of society such as honesty, compassion, and love.

4. Influence of Gothic Literature

Throughout history, we can also note imagery and elements of the Gothic style peeping through countless written works, historical events, creative arts, buildings, etc. These elements are adopted to suit a particular context or need and are not necessarily used to create a controlled or finished art form. Regardless of definitions, Gothic literature covers prose, poetry, and/or drama that is rooted in the supernatural and features aspects of horror. This aspect is highly present in literature, especially when studying the Victorian age where literature used supernatural events, such as the appearance of ghosts lurking around or noises, to highlight the political, moral, and social aspects and defects in the society. Truth being written in reliable fiction works was more read than documentaries themselves.

Not only did the Gothic genre prove immensely popular in the 18th and 19th centuries (especially in British literature) but it also left an indelible mark on many later literary genres and worldwide culture. The term “Gothic” originally meant “coming from the Goths”, a period in time which was reminiscent of decay. In literature, Gothic has long been associated with the Gothic novel, which is described as a genre that first became popular in England in the late 18th century. Frankenstein (1818) and Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker are both considered to be early examples of the genre. Hence, we can trace the broad prominence of the Gothic style to horror fiction before moving from literature into all possible media and genres in mass culture.

5. Conclusion

The future of Gothics continues thanks to the convenience and power of print’s superpower for exposing readers to offerings and demands of “small presses” like Ghost Rose and Melange Books. They compete successfully against behemoths like Penguin because of their flexibility and entrepreneurial intelligence to satisfy submarkets, including fans of Victoriana, romance, and supernatural tales. The media convergence of the internet (combining print, film, and other media types across the globe) promises that Gothics will be better protected and disseminated than ever before. Loyalty from traditional consumers has stabilized value and social meaning in these texts; readers are still gathering around fires reading their old favorites. Additionally, the digital revolution has raised the value of print as a display of social standing and mastering lexical codes. Finally, Gothics will likely benefit from dehistoricizing gender-determined identities and the treasure of expressing fluid sexuality, identity, and practices. Too many subcultures are so cerebrally complex and sophisticated that everyone gives up and needs to have a glass of tea and a sandwich before reviving. For the Victoriana and supernatural crowd, that tea is Earl Grey and the sandwiches are crustless and cucumber topped with cream. Just like “they” had them when the first werewolf howled at the first full moon.

In conclusion, readers can appreciate the aesthetic and style of Gothic texts and films. Many Gothics help individuals relieve some of their own psychopathologies, fears, and malcontents and offer a “retreat from ‘the current neuroses of civilization’”. This is evident from the number of reviews that discuss how enjoyable “campy” Gothics are. Generally taken to connote “absurd, exaggerated, or unrealistic situations or captures a consciousness of the past as always ‘creaky, homely, rustic, cant, parochial, wooden as toothpick construction’”, camp (or high camp as defined by Toffler) is complete devotion to preserving the seriousness of the perverse, making overdone seriousness funny, especially in a terribly inappropriate and melodramatic setting. Campy Gothics offer an innocent and usually benevolent view of the supernatural and evil while blending good-natured scares with humor. Humor, in the form of camp, offers a mediatory control through danger in order to overcome fear through transgression, eventually returning to equilibrium and order. The lack of erotic desire in these texts, key to the scary story, is replaced by a delightful mix of the real and absurd. Popular culture has continually celebrated “campy” Gothics with shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and the revival of Gothics played on the British show “Doctor Who”.

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