The period called Romanticism appeared as a reaction against the fixed standards of neoclassicism which emphasized reason and logic, and in this way, Wordsworth, in the preface of his Lyrical Balads claimed for a imaginative approach to nature and the overflow of feelings. Thus, English writers of the Romantic period believed individualism as being the most important feature; they valued subjectivity, imagination, and the expression of emotions over rational thought as a true source of aesthetic experience. Before the 18th Century, few writers were concerned with discovering their own individual identities and feelings but the changing economy of the industrial revolution helped to widespread the interest for individualism, creating a deep shift in the attitudes to art and human creativity, transforming not only the theory and practice of writing but the way to perceive the world.
This authentic concern for individualism led some author to explore that inner part of human minds which is not strictly rational and they introduced themes and topics which readers cannot solve using merely their rational minds; following the romantic ideal, these authors aimed to stimulate emotions within the readers by using certain imagery, to such a degree to evocate strong, irrational emotions and create a terror reaction .
In the human history, fear is a distressing negative emotion, which has been playing a very important role in the personal and social life, through the centuries and becoming a substantial part of the psychological background of the man. The emotion of fear is not a stranger to the majority of people and it would not be an exaggeration to say that every person is afraid of something.
As H.P. Lovecraft stated “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” . And this primitive emotion was accompanied by a fascination with the unknown and horror stories which have always existed throughout oral and written literature. This emotion is underlined in literature, either as fear of death, of the unknown, of the time and mode of the end of the life or as a threat derived from the natural environment or unexpected phenomena, so we agree with H.P. Lovecraft when he says “no one need wonder at the existence of a literature of cosmic fear. It has always existed, and always will exist” . Thus, we could examine the terror imagery and their prevalence in literature, fully developed with the gothic literature of the 18th century, with environments with mysterious atmospheres and ruined castles and authors like Ann Radcliffe, or Matthew Lewis and those English authors, who followed and developed the gothic tradition creating characters that became worlwide archetypes. The elements of this imagery can be found in folklore and legends, as Mary Shelley did, in an oniric world, like Charles Lamb or in James Hogg´s wicked character,
This essay attempts to...