Women in Gothic Lit

521 Words3 Pages
Gothic horror was a popular genre in the late 19th century that was defined by specific literary tropes. This particular genre focused on the supernatural and fictional monsters to entertain readers by appealing to their natural fears. During this period many authors took their place in literary history by creating unique stories that combined both romanticism and science fiction. Gothic fiction was published as short stories, novels, novellas or poetry and continues to excite audiences and readers in the 21st century. Two significant gothic works include Bram Stoker’s infamous story Dracula and Christabel a long narrative poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s. This essay will discuss these texts in relation to specific gothic tropes that surround the female protagonists and how they compare and contrast. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a classic example of gothic tropes in literature; published in 1897 the story is set in England and Eastern Europe. The main female protagonist character Miss Mina Murray/Harker is a young meek schoolmistress who marries the male protagonist and both are victimized by Count Dracula. Miss Lucy Westenra is Mina’s best friend and subsequently opposite in characteristics; she is a vivacious young woman who becomes Dracula’s first victim. Mina and Lucy embody many of the typical and traditional tropes of gothic literature, Mina being an example of purity and Lucy symbolizing the sexuality of women. Gothic tropes such as female sexuality and the “New Woman” are evident in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and characters Mina and Lucy can be compared to Coleridge’s Christabel and Geraldine. Miss Mina Murray and Christabel are both young women who share the gothic tropes of the ‘New Woman’, purity and subsequently both pursued by the antagonist (Domíngues-Rué 300). Mina is a schoolmistress engaged to be married who strives for self-improvement through her
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