Innocence As A Major Theme Of Gothic Literature Year 13 Significance Of Innocence In The Gothic

1325 words - 6 pages

Innocence is often an important element in Gothic writing. Mahdi Succar
Innocence is used as a major theme in Gothic literature as its definition is broad. The term applies to the virginity of a woman as well as the pureness of an individual or a lack of identity. Its connotations and its use vary depending on the context. Women are often portrayed as innocent as they have not yet made love. They are depicted as being sexually pure in a sense. Some characters are innocent before they undergo a transformation filled with sin and death leaving them with a corrupted mind. Innocence, in the Gothic genre can be a protection against the deranged mind of the Gothic villains and a protection against what the mind of the innocent can become if the latter fades.
Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ (1897) uses innocence as a main theme through characters such as Jonathan Harker, Lucy and Mina. In an introduction to ‘Dracula’, Maurice Hindle qualifies Dracula’s blood sucking violence as “obsessive sadistic substitutes for sexual gratification”. This quotation clearly justifies the ways in which Dracula manipulates and drains Jonathan Harker’s and Lucy’s innocence through a disturbing psychological transformation. Harker is imprisoned by Dracula’s Castle and by his sexual power. Before meeting Dracula, Harker is depicted as being a rational Victorian man who comprehends science and reason. His view of life is innocent and he is unaware of the behaviour of men when pushed to the extreme. This behaviour clearly represents the typical beliefs held by men and women in the 19th Century in England. Jonathan endures a psychological transformation from the latter state to a state of wonder and chaos. Dracula’s blood draining is comparable to the fact that he is draining Harker’s personality. The supernatural is the element which puts an end to the Victorian rational. “I saw something which filled my very soul with horror”. This melodramatic and sensationalist quotation shows how the supernatural affects Harker to his very soul. Before declaring the above, Harker is ready to die rather than live in the castle which could be compared to hell: “a diabolical wickedness”. Dracula is compared to the devil. Jonathan experiences an immense desire to escape or die. This behaviour contradicts the rational behaviour he adopts at the beginning of the book. Dracula fills Harker with horror as he changes his appearance to become younger. This supernatural event is similar to the story in ‘The Picture of Dorian Grey’ written by Oscar Wild in 1819. This reference as well as Dracula’s hypnotic and homoerotic sexual power over the male characters in ‘Dracula’ show the impact Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment for his sexuality in 1895 had on Stoker’s depiction of sexual control and loss of innocence. Mina is a character who experiences a transformation from innocence and naivety to control. She is one of the main characters in the novel as she represents a...

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