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Southern Gothic Fiction
Transcript of Southern Gothic Fiction
What is Southern Gothic Fiction?
What is unique about the South and Southern writing?
Sub Genre of Gothic Fiction
Run Down, Dilapidated Settings
and Grotesque Characters
*A sub-genre of Gothic Fiction
*A style of writing unique to the South
* Characterized by:
-rundown, dilapidated settings
-grotesque, freakish characters
-macabre subject matter
-uses disturbing situations to
dissect social issues and illuminate
the cultural climate of the south
"Gossip is at a premium in Savannah....People tell stories that are full and rich in their description. In New York, people would say, 'Before going out, Mrs. Jones put on her coat.' That would not do in Savannah. People would say, 'Before going out, Mrs. Jones put on her coat from her third husband who gave it to her before he committed suicide.'- John Berendt
Goth- First a people
Then an architecture style
Then a genre of fiction-because so many gothic novels took place in gothic settings
Setting is key...Think abandoned abbeys and old castles with secret passages
Ghosts, murder, the supernatural, visions
haunted castles, etc.
Good old fashion horror
Suggesting the horror of
death and decay; gruesome
Deals with themes and
symbols of death and
Examples of Gothic Fiction
Setting: Old Mansion
Ghosts: You think so at first, but it's just
Rochester's crazy wife he keeps locked in the attic
Macabre Subject matter: See above and there's also suicide, death, fog, fire, fortune tellers
Themes of Good vs. Evil: check
Macabre subject matter: If creating a creature out of dead body parts is macabre then, check and check
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Castle: only the spookiest castle ever
Supernatural: Yes, only if you believe vampire's aren't real
Macabre: draining of blood is macabre, right?
The South has produced writers
as the dark ages produced
saints. - Alfred Kazin
"Let's sell everything and move south!
How we could write."
"In the South there are more amateur authors than there are rivers and streams, It's not an activity that aits upon talent...the woods are full of regional writers, and it is the great horror of every serious southern writer that he will become one of them." -Flannery O'Connor
Setting is important in Southern Gothic Fiction
Run down, dialect, decayed settings
Why are decayed settings so popular in Southern Gothic Fiction?
The decayed settings are a symbol of the South post civil war.
Why is this?
synonyms: malformed, deformed, misshapen, misproportioned, distorted, twisted, gnarled, mangled, mutilated
figures that may distort the natural into absurdity, ugliness, or caricature
One of the defining features of southern gothic is the cast of off-kilter characters, many of whom are "not right in the head." The genre is riddled with many broken bodies, and even more broken souls. When southern gothic authors examine the human condition, they see the potential to do harm. Morality is in question for many characters. A major theme for southern gothic writers hinges on innocence, and the innocent's place in the world—where they are often asked to act as redeemer. Faulkner's innocent is the mentally handicapped Benji from The Sound and the Fury; Carson McCullers the deaf-mute John Singer. But this is still a genre of love and loss. In the end, purity of heart rarely overpowers desperation. If society hangs in the balance of an idiot's mind or on the words of a deaf-mute, we are all in trouble.
Characters can be deformed: