Gothic Literature: Basics of the Genre & Key Elements
Gothic literature is a popular genre that dominated Western literature throughout the 19th century and still endures today due to its grotesque yet gripping allure. From the looming image of Frankenstein’s monster to the macabre tales of Edgar Allan Poe, images of the gothic genre have permeated Western literature and popular culture. Explore the morbid, fantastical elements and characteristics of Gothic literature, as well as classic and contemporary examples of this influential genre.
Gothic literature is a genre of literature that rose to prominence in the late 18th century. The term Gothic historically refers to a style of architecture popularized in the Medieval period. The term has since become applicable to any medium that displays particular aesthetic characteristics, such as dark settings and atmosphere and elements of the supernatural. All this and more can be found in Gothic novels.
Many Gothic stories that are read and retold today are now considered classics. Dive into the plots of a few Gothic novel greats.
The Castle of Otranto contained all the elements necessary to be dubbed the first true Gothic novel. So much so that the subtitle that appeared on the cover was “A Gothic Story.” This genre-defining tale has all the hallmarks of a good Gothic novel: prophecy, a crumbling castle, a madman, a murder, and intrigue.
Corruption and downfall take center stage in this Gothic novel with two interweaving plotlines. Readers of the day were riveted and repulsed by the downfall of the titular monk, Ambrosio, and his interactions with a demon, as well as enthralled by the romance between Raymond and Agnes. This Gothic classic features genre staples such as ghosts, demons, rituals, and prophecies.
At just nineteen, Mary Shelley revolutionized both the Gothic and Science Fiction genres with her classic novel Frankenstein. The novel depicts the anti-hero Victor Frankenstein, who is driven to near insanity by his thirst for knowledge, resulting in the creation of the iconic Frankenstein’s monster. The story has been retold countless times and endures as a staple of the genre and Western literature in general.
Gothic literature can trace its roots to Romanticism, a movement that swept through Europe in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Gothic literature stems from Dark Romanticism, a more macabre subgenre of Romanticism. This literary movement was particularly prevalent in English and German literature and ultimately dominated the market. Notably, many female authors rose to prominence writing Gothic literature, including Ann Radcliffe, Clara Reeves, Mary Shelley, the Brontë sisters, and even Jane Austen.
Some subgenres of Gothic literature include Gothic romance and Gothic horror. A popular example of Gothic romance is Jane Eyre, while the term Gothic horror might apply to the works of Edgar Allan Poe. A popular subgenre that has emerged in modern times is Southern Gothic, with notable works such as Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Beloved by Toni Morrison, and the works of Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy.
Gothic literature feeds off the fears and curiosities of the human experience to weave thrilling, imaginative tales. Keep your journey into literature going by exploring different literary genres, including ghost and monster stories.
In this essay, I will analyse Bram Stoker’s Gothic taking as a reference point his novel Dracula. The main purpose of these pages is to present the aspects conform to conventions of Gothic fiction and the ones that vary from this genre. Gothic fiction is considered a literature and film genre that mainly combines death, fiction and horror, and occasionally romance. Gothic narratives always describe journeys, flight and pursuit tales or stories of escape (Duncker, 2004). 1790s writers, considered the...
Who doesn’t love a theatrical drama filled with contemplation? Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a spectacular adaption of the renowned 1817 gothic novel, Frankenstein, and is a movie lover’s dream, touching the thoughts of viewers since its release in 1994. Today, Branagh has sat down with me to discuss how he has used gothic elements, such as women, to appeal to the modern audience to depict the infamous tale so the modern audience can still enjoy this classic. Hi Kenneth, thank...
Edgar Allan Poe is a famous American author. Poe wrote many famous poems such as “The Raven” and “Tell-Tale Hearts”. Poe’s poems are held in high regard today. He is seen as an amazing American author. Although many people believe that Poe’s mindset while writing poems was insane. Many things will be gone over in this research paper. Such as Poe’s life a few poems by him and his mindset. Almost none of Poe’s stories are light-hearted. Poe’s stories were...
Do you know the features of Gothic literature and who are Gothic writers? The origin of Gothic literature is Gothic architecture which is a kind of medieval architecture of several significant cathedrals and churches built by the style in Britain and France they emphasize verticality and light, height suggests aspiration to heaven, and the buildings represent the universe in microcosm and the geometrical nature of the construction is the image of an orderly universe. The features of Gothic architecture are...
Physical Setting Conrad was deeply fascinated by the circumstances that established men’s perseverance and were fascinated by physical realism. This curiosity propelled him into realities that he presented in romantic charm and ‘ adventurous exaltation’ in the novella. The very opening line of the novella, “The sea-reach of the Thames stretched before us like the beginning of an interminable waterway.” sets the eeriness, gloominess, and desolation, perhaps the most significant elements of gothic literature. The portrayal of imperialistic domination presents...
The literary term Gothic incorporates a number of sub-genres under it. Gothic Film forms one of the significant genres. Heidi Kaye in Gothic Film writes “ Gothic, as a genre born in darkness, has a natural affinity with the cinema’1. A film as a visual medium serves as a great spectacle for the audience to depict an atmosphere of suspense and mystery and tantalize the audience. However, Gothic films also include various sub-genres. Terror fiction largely speaks of thrillers as...
The Gothic fiction, however, enjoyed its heyday from 1762 to 1820 and influenced and inspired the sensational writers of the late nineteenth century. Certain merits of the Gothic fiction have been recognised by the Freudian psychologists. Herbert Read in his book Surrealism remarks: “It is possible that Monk Lewis, Maturin and Mrs. Radcliffe should relatively to Scott, Dickens and Hardy occupy a much higher rank.” He had defended the Gothic fiction against the objections that the plots of these novels...
The term Gothic fiction refers to a style of writing that is characterized by elements of fear, horror, death, and gloom, as well as romantic elements, such as nature, individuality, and very high emotion. These emotions can include fear and suspense. In this paper, I will be discussing the writer and works of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. According to the definition of gothic fiction, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein supports the characterized elements of fear, horror, death, and gloom as well as romantic...
A response to the scientific breakthroughs and technological advancements of the Industrial Revolution, the British Romantic period was a literary movement that revived an appreciation of the arts, stressing intense emotion in its works. In particular, Gothic fiction, a genre of Romantic literature that centered around dark, macabre elements, gained popularity throughout Europe and the world. One such Gothic-based timeless classic, Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, explores the theme of science versus nature. Victor Frankenstein, a radical monomaniac-scientist who shatters the...
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