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To What Extent Has Gothic Literature Continued Or Changed From The 18th Century To Present Day?

2101 words - 9 pages

Before discussing what exactly Gothic Literature is, assessing what elements contribute to a Gothic novel is fundamental in examining what conventions are easy to identify it and why it is so different to other genres. For instance, looking at figure 1.1 the highest percentage that readers (based on an audience ranging from different ages) associate with ‘Gothic’, is Castles followed by Graveyards, then Unknown Regions and lastly The Devil. Some examples listed in this chart are conventions in some books like Walpole’s Castle of Otranto, Milton’s Paradise Lost & Alighieri’s Dante’s Inferno and even in more modern works like King’s Pet Cemetery are popular examples that are listed in the ...view middle of the document...

In the twentieth century, Gothic figures have continued to shadow the progress of modernity with counter-narratives display.”

Gothic Literature in the eighteenth century established a time where the novel was increasingly popular and writers would begin to look at Romantic traditions such as the Arthurian legends etc. However, during this period it was a time called of Romanticism or the neo-classical period. The idea of writers like Blake, Coleridge etc. looking at nature and its beauty, the idea of the pastoral and picturesque landscapes contrasted impeccably with writers looking at the grotesque, the repellent, and the supernatural, which coincide with Romanticism, as there are elements of love in most Gothic Literature. However, Robert D. Hume author of Gothic Versus Romantic: A revolution of the Gothic Novel states that writers moved away from neoclassical ideas (ideas of order and reason) and focused their emotion and intelligence on Romanticism. This is evident as many writers of that time focused on the metaphysical, things that are beyond human physicality with the use of extended metaphors etc. that also applies with Bronte’s Jane Eyre and in The Castle of Ortrano. However, Gothic Literature can be explored by the writer’s use of architecture as one of the main symbols of Gothic Literature alongside the supernatural, monsters, killers etc. However, Walpole saw that the Castle of Otrano was "the great resources of fancy have been dammed up, by a strict adherence to common life. Indicating his disagreement with neoclassical restrictions on writers and finding that Romanticism allowed writers to be freer when expressing themselves. Architecture is significant in defining any ‘Gothic’ element: exploring such classics like Jane Eyre the reader is able to associate Thornfield with it resembling an eerie atmosphere because of its isolation:

“I did not like re-entering Thornfield. To pass its threshold was to return to stagnation, to cross the silent hall, to ascend the darksome staircase, to seek my own lonely little room and to meet tranquil.”

To readers Bronte’s use of the senses and eerie atmosphere sets the mood and tone of Thornfield as a strange house that gives the reader nowadays the sensation of fright or fear that the supernatural or any other force is in this house. However, compared to contemporary books like Maurier’s Rebecca it is still arguably evident that architecture still remains of such importance as it was beforehand in many Gothic Literature novels. Manderly [main house in Rebecca] is just as significant as Thornfield, or even the castle of Ortrano and Crythin Gifford in Hill’s Woman in Black, because the architecture is one piece of the puzzle that forms the story and gives it that edge. The idea of creepy castles and old haunted houses and graveyards or dungeons and cellars ignites the reader to feel fear from what is presented which is what Gothic fiction is mainly about. The use of pointed arches, flying...

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