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Characteristics of Gothic Literature Subgenre of Romanticism 1800-1860.

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Presentation on theme: "Characteristics of Gothic Literature Subgenre of Romanticism 1800-1860."— Presentation transcript:

1 Characteristics of Gothic Literature Subgenre of Romanticism

2 Gothic Literature The Beginnings… Gothic Literary tradition came to be in part from the Gothic architecture of the Middle Ages. Gothic cathedrals with irregularly placed towers, and high stained-glass windows were intended to inspire awe and fear in religious worshipers.

3 Gargoyles—carvings of small deformed creatures squatting at the corners and crevices of Gothic cathedrals—were supposed to ward off evil spirits, but they often look more like demonic spirits themselves. Think of the gargoyle as a mascot of Gothic, and you will get an idea of the kind of imaginative distortion of reality that Gothic represents.

4 Gothic Literature It was an offshoot of Romantic Literature. Gothic Literature was the predecessor of modern horror movies in both theme and style. Gothic Literature put a spin on the Romantic idea of nature worship and nature imagery. Along with nature having the power of healing, Gothic writers gave nature the power of destruction. Frankenstein is full of the harsh reality of nature. Many storms arise in the novel, including storms the night the Creature comes to life. The most common feature of Gothic Literature is the indication of mood through the weather.

5 Gothic vs. Romanticism Romantic writers celebrated the beauties of nature. Gothic writers were peering into the darkness at the supernatural.  Romanticism developed as a reaction against the rationalism of the Age of Reason. The romantics freed the imagination from the hold of reason, so they could follow their imagination wherever it might lead. For some Romantics, when they looked at the individual, they saw hope (think “A Psalm of Life”).  For some Romantic writers, the imagination led to the threshold of the unknown— the shadowy region where the fantastic, the demonic and the insane reside.  When the Gothic's saw the individual, they saw the potential of evil.

6 Gothic Movement in America The Gothic Tradition was firmly established in Europe before American writers had made names for themselves. By the 19 th century, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathanial Hawthorne, and to a lesser extent Washington Irving and Herman Melville were using the Gothic elements in their writing. Edgar Allan Poe was the master of the Gothic form in the United States.

7 Characteristics Set in Medieval times Dark, mysterious, evil tone Dark castles, palaces, chambers, haunted mansions Isolated setting All come together to emphasize the sense of evil m

8 More characteristics Presence of ghosts, spirits, vampires, and other supernatural entities Mysterious disappearances and reappearances Supernatural or paranormal occurrences

9 Characteristics -- cont’d. Religion, usually Christianity or at least spirituality, is confronted. A gothic “double” is used in which a character who seems to be good is linked with another who is evil GOTHIC%20CHAPBOOKSX.HTM

10 More characteristics Blood, pain, death Cruelty Characters with “aberrant psychological states” Events are uncanny or melodramatically violent bordering between reality and unreality e/hauntedcastle/hc.html

11 Purpose To evoke “terror” versus “horror” in the reader because of situations bordering reality/unreality Often used to teach a message May lack a Medieval setting but will develop an atmosphere of gloom and terror

12 Differentiating between the two Horror “An awful apprehension” Described distinctly Something grotesque So appalling, unrealistic Depends on physical characteristics Terror “A sickening realization” Suggestive of what will happen Depends on reader’s imagination Sense of uncertainty Creates an “intangible atmosphere of spiritual psychic dread”

13 Gothic Conventions MurderDeathSuicideGhostsDemons Gloomy settings Family secrets DungeonsCursesTorture VampiresSpiritsCastlesTombsTerror

14 A few more gothic conventions Damsel in distress (frequently faints in horror) Secret corridors, passageways, or rooms Ancestral curses Ruined castles with graveyards nearby Priests and monks Sleep, dream, death-like states

15 Metonymy of gloom and terror Metonymy is a subtype of metaphor, in which something (like rain) is used to stand for something else (like sorrow). For example, the film industry likes to use metonymy as a quick shorthand, so we often notice that it is raining in funeral scenes.

16 Note the following metonymies that suggest mystery, danger, or the supernatural wind, especially howlingsighs, moans, howls, eerie sounds rain, especially blowingclanking chains doors grating on rusty hingesgusts of wind blowing out lights footsteps approachingdoors suddenly slamming shut lights in abandoned roomscrazed laughter characters trapped in a roombaying of distant dogs (or wolves?) ruins of buildingsthunder and lightning

17 Importance of Setting The setting is greatly influential in Gothic novels. It not only evokes the atmosphere of horror and dread, but also portrays the deterioration of its world. The decaying, ruined scenery implies that at one time there was a thriving world. At one time the abbey, castle, or landscape was something treasured and appreciated. Now, all that lasts is the decaying shell of a once thriving dwelling.

18 Basic Plot Structure for a Gothic Novel Action in the Gothic novel tends to take place at night, or at least in a claustrophobic, sunless environment. Ascent (up a mountain high staircase); Descent (into a dungeon, cave, underground chambers or labyrinth) or falling off a precipice; secret passage; hidden doors; Physical decay, skulls, cemeteries, and other images of death; ghosts; revenge; family curse; blood and gore; torture; the Doppelganger (evil twin or double), etc.

19 Gothic Writers Anne Rice Edgar Allan Poe Joyce Carol Oates Stephen King Stephenie Meyer


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