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An Introduction to Gothic Literature

An introduction to the field of Gothic Literature for students.
by

Thom Haines

on 17 January 2014

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Transcript of An Introduction to Gothic Literature

GOTHIC
Literature

...this recurrent pattern of primitive thinking, appearing from the period from about 1760 to 1830, is symptomatic of the sudden dislocation, challenge to, or loss of faith in the theological interpretation of nature before there was a scientific one to replace it.
Marilyn Gaull, 1988
The Castle of Otranto looks uncommonly like an attempt to graft on to the novel - that modern form concerned with money, possessions, status, circumstance - the heightened passions, elemental situations, and stylised poetic techniques of the Elizabethan dramatists.
Marilyn Butler, 1981
The continuum that links the gothic to the 'domestic novel' is marked by the fact that however arcane of historic the setting, it is always linked to the desire of contemporary readers. At once escapist and conformist, the gothic speaks to the dark side of domestic fiction: erotic, violent, perverse, bizarre and occasionally connected with contempoary fears.
Clive Bloom, 1998
Conventions of the Gothic Novel:
terror (both psychological and physical),
mystery,
the supernatural,
ghosts,
haunted houses and Gothic architecture such as castles,
darkness,
death,
humans challenging god (creating life),
doubles,
madness,
secrets,
hereditary curses
Byronic heroes.
Famous Gothic Texts & Writers
Bram Stoker - Dracula
Angela Carter - The Bloody Chamber
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Christabel - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Mary Shelley - Frankenstein
Edgar Allen Poe - The Raven
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde - Robert Louis Stephenson
The Woman in Black - Susan Hill
Matthew Lewis - The Monk
Horace Walpole - The Castle of Otranto
The Enlightenment (18th Century)
A term for the developing dominance of reason as key to solving human problems.
Ironically a reaction against superstition and tradition.
Celebration of scientific, open enquiry.
Social progress through, technological & scientific development made it safe to believe in the supernatural.
The middle classes indulged their fantasies safe in the knowledge they were immune from real danger.
The term 'Goth' originates from several Germanic tribes instrumental in the destruction of the Roman Empire in the 4th Century. It came to represent freedom and opposition to foreign imperialism.
A Contempoary Goth
The Original Goths
Byronic Heroes
Named after the poet Lord Byron, these dark, brooding characters often appear in Gothic Literature.
Often the Byronic hero is moody by nature or passionate about a particular issue. He also has emotional and intellectual capacities, which are superior to the average man. These heightened abilities force the Byronic hero to be arrogant, confident, abnormally sensitive, and extremely conscious of himself. Sometimes, this is to the point of nihilism resulting in his rebellion against life itself. In one form or another, he rejects the values and moral codes of society and because of this he is often unrepentant by society's standards. Often the Byronic hero is characterized by a guilty memory of some unnamed sexual crime. Due to these characteristics, the Byronic hero is often a figure of repulsion, as well as
fascination.
Examples
Heathcliff - Wuthering Heights
Mr Rochester - Jane Eyre
Edward Cullen - Twilight
Angel - Buffy
Full transcript