The Evocation of the Gothic in the Woman in Black

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‘No reader of ‘The Woman in Black’, can be left in doubt about its conscious evocation of the Gothic. It is full of motifs and effects associated with that genre.’ How far would you agree with this statement of the novel? There is absolutely no doubt that Susan Hill consciously evocates the Gothic in ‘The Woman in Black’. There are many obvious conventions she uses that create a great Gothic effect throughout the novel. It is clear that this novel contains most of the elements that constitute the genre, for example, an eerie atmosphere full of mystery and suspense, and a character feeling high or overwrought emotions. This concludes the novel into a sub-genre of the Gothic, a ghost story. The Gothic has been active since the eighteenth century; the genre was especially popular within the years of The French Revolution and The Great Terror, which fell between 1789 and the 1790’s. The Gothic can also be traced back to the original Goths, who were believed to have been around in the last days of the Roman Empire. However, there is no substantial proof as the Goths left almost no written records, and were mostly unheard of until the ‘first Gothic revival’ in the late eighteenth century. In Britain this revival involved a series of attempts to ‘return to roots’, in contrast to the classical model revered in the earlier eighteenth century. It is believed that the very first Gothic novel was invented solely by Horace Walpole, when he wrote ‘The Castle of Otranto’ in 1764. This novel was imitated throughout the following centuries because it contains essentially all the elements that comprise the Gothic genre. It is also believed to have influenced writing, poetry and film making to the present day. Other key Gothic novelists of this period that would also have contributed to this influence are Mary Shelly, the
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