In 1764 Horace Walpole combined horror and romance in his novel The Castle of Ortranto. He effectively created the gothic novel. Tyrants, villains, bandits, maniacs, Byronic heroes, persecuted maidens, femme’s fatales, madwomen, magicians, vampires, werewolves, monsters demons, revenants, ghosts, perambulating skeletons, wandering lew, and the devil are all characters included in Gothic fiction. As I mentioned, Gothic literature contains Byronic heroes. Byronic heroes were used to describe Lord Byron by his jilted lover, Lady Caroline.
Gothic has been described as “excess: excess in moral terms, excess of realism into the supernatural, [and] formal excess” (Becker, 1999:1). Discuss this view of the Gothic mode in specific relation to The Castle of Otranto, and M.R. James’s stories. When Horace Walpole published his Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto, in 1764, he became the first author credited with changing the meaning of the Gothic genre forever. With his tale of corrupt patriarchy filled with mystery, romance, and tragedy, Horace Walpole bridged the gap between the wantonly romantic and the excessively realistic (Scott 11); filling the space with dark settings, stark characters and tangled narratives.
In Gothic writing, women are presented as either innocent victims or sinister predators or are significantly absent. Consider the place of women in Gothic writing in the light of this comment: 2500-3000) Guiltless individuals, devilish seductresses or merely not being significant whatsoever are some of the very few attributes women are presumed as in Gothic literature, highlighting women’s actually position in society as to what role they actually play. This type of fiction was a popular tradition developing from the 18th century onwards which includes conventions of the underground, the unspoken taboo as well as concepts from evil in the human mind. Elements that tend to be popular within gothic literature range from Sadomasochism, melodrama, exoticism, transgression and even alienation. Whether woman are perceived as weak and feeble victims, or sinister seductresses (or not included at all), writers of this genre present this gender to the audience as either of these options which makes us question how innocent are women?
Gothic horror was a common genre of use in the time Frankenstein was written. This was a time of great novels such as Dracula and Hound of the Baskervilles. Gothic horror is traditionally set in dark castles and countryside with eerie moaning music and bad weather Written in 1818 Frankenstein is the deeply disturbing tale of a monstrous unnamed creation that was created in the name of science. Huge and strong, the creature created by Victor Frankenstein kills and murders many throughout the tale, but considering his tragic beginnings I must ask, who is the real monster in this gothic tale of horror? Frankenstein is cleverly written in two parts.
Another element is an atmosphere of mystery and suspense. Throughout the novel readers are kept wondering about different situations such as Lucy’s fate, Dracula’s next victim, and Renfield’s purpose. Presence of the supernatural is an element as well. Dracula is a vampire which is supernatural. The next element is a woman or women in distress.
‘The role of female vampires in the novel is to warn of the dangers of female sexuality’ consider the presentation of the female vampires in Dracula in the light of this comment Many may argue that the novel Dracula highlights the suppression and belittlement of women during the 19th Century. In Victorian England, women’s sexual behaviour was dictated by society’s rigid expectations. A Victorian woman was either a virgin or else she was a wife and mother. If she was neither of these, she was considered a whore, and thus of no consequence to society This idea is reinforced by Stoker with the contrast of the ‘brilliant white teeth, that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips,’ the virginal white is contrasted with the hellish red of their lips shows the battle the women went through suppressing and hiding their sexual desires. Stoker’s choose of women as the temptresses may be a warning to the women of the Victorian era to beware about pushing the boundaries of their sexuality.
Gothic fiction became socially acceptable around the time Austen was writing Northanger. Catherine becomes influenced by this new genre of fiction, especially during her visit to Northanger Abbey. Riots and War are another modern element of the time. The French Revolution creates anxiety amongst those in England and poses the threat of riots. Catherine, ignorant to politics, is dealt another contemporary element of the time.
To what extent do you think gothic literature is characterised by a fascination with death? Notions of 'death' manifest themselves into gothic texts in numerous ways, throught plot, setting and through both characters perceptions, and reactions to death, thus one interpretation is that gothic literature has become fascinated by death. Death, represents arguably one of the main provokers of human fear. It is the ultimate unknown and stimulates feelings of both horror and terror, the sickening apprehension at the mere thought of death and consequently the dismal realisation.Gothic texts are known for the promise of the sickly addictive combination of both horror and terror, thus it is almost inevitable then, that 'death' too has become an archetypal feature. To an increasingly large extent gothic literature is concerned with and obsession or fascination with death, however some may argue that this notion of death presents merely a sole characteristic of the gothic, and that perhaps there are alternative features that take predominance over it, such as the supernatural.
Language is a key element of The Lady of The House of Love which lends itself to the gothic genre. Through the endless connotations of light and dark, and the use of symbolism, Carter shapes a gothic short story by utilising key gothic conventions portrayed by the complex use of language. One way Carter uses language to not only reveal character but elicit gothic convention is through the description of the Countess; presented to us wearing "an antique bridal gown" trapped in a "chateau." The idea the Countess is wearing a bridal gown reiterates Miss. Havisham in Great Expectations; where the readers are introduced to a woman trapped in time, and unable to let go.
Gothic horror is a type of romantic, horror fiction based on irrational fear that overpowered the 18th century in England. The term 'gothic' comes from the architectural style of the middle ages, but came to describe the dark, making tales now scary and popular. Gothic horror can be determined by many things which exist in all gothic horror stories, for example eerie settings such as gothic monasteries, bleak comfortless castles, grave yards and cobwebbed rooms lit by guttering candles. It can also be determined by a unique character such as a beast, monster, ghost, evil creature and innocent person. Usually the innocent person is killed by the evil creature in a gothic horror story.