Gothic Literature 8th Grade Park Tudor

What is the historic context of Gothic literature
The words Goth and Gothic describe the Germanic tribes (e.g., Goths, Visigoths, Ostrogoths) which sacked Rome and also ravaged the rest of Europe in the third, fourth, and fifth centuries.
By the eighteenth century in England, Gothic had become synonymous with the Middle Ages, a period which was in disfavor because it was perceived as chaotic, unenlightened, and superstitious.

Gothic architecture today
Today, the word gothic is used as an architectural term to describe the shapes and motifs apparent in medieval buildings such as cathedrals and castles.

Gothic architecture 12-16th century
Gothic architecture used pointed arches and vaults, flying buttresses, narrow spires, stained glass windows, intricate traceries, and varied details; its upward movement was meant to suggest heavenward aspiration.

Horace Walpole
24 September 1717 – 2 March 1797
Walpole wrote what is considered the first gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto (very melodramatic)
Published in 1764
Inspired by his reconstruction of his home and a nightmare he’d had

Gothic novels
1765: Horace Walpole. The Castle of Otranto
1794: Ann Radcliffe. The Mysteries of Udolpho
1794: William Godwin. Caleb Williams
1796: Mathew Lewis. The Monk
1798: Regina Maria Roche. Clermont
1806: Ann Mary Hamilton. Montalva or Annals of Guilt
1807: Charlotte Dacre. The Libertine
1818: Mary Shelly. Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus 1820: Charles Robert Maturin. Melmonth the Wanderer
1826: Ann Radcliff: Gaston de Blondeville
1826: William Child Green. The Abbot of Montserrat or The Pool of Blood

Importance of setting in Gothic literature:
The setting is greatly influential in Gothic novels. It not only evokes the atmosphere of horror and dread, but also portrays the deterioration of its world. The decaying, ruined scenery implies that at one time there was a thriving world. At one time the abbey, castle, or landscape was something treasured and appreciated. Now, all that lasts is the decaying shell of a once thriving dwelling.

Gothic conventions.
Murder Terror Tombs Castles
Vampire Curses Dungeons Demons
Spirits Ghosts Suicide Death
Torture Family Secrets Gloomy settings

A few more Gothic conventions
Damsel in distress (frequently faints in horror)
Secret corridors, passageways, or rooms
Ancestral curses
Ruined castles with graveyards nearby
Priests and monks
Sleep, dream, death-like states

Literary connections to Gothic architecture
“gothic” came to describe a certain type of novels, so named because all these novels seem to take place in Gothic-styled architecture — mainly castles, mansions, and, of course, abbeys (“Gothic…”).

Note the following metonymies that suggest mystery, danger, or the supernatural
wind, especially howling
sighs, moans, howls, eerie sounds
rain, especially blowing
clanking chains
doors grating on rusty hinges
gusts of wind blowing out lights
footsteps approaching
doors suddenly slamming shut
lights in abandoned rooms
crazed laughter
characters trapped in a room
baying of distant dogs (or wolves?)
ruins of buildings
thunder and lightning

Archetypal characters
The Gothic hero becomes a sort of archetype as we find that there is a pattern to his characterization. There is always the protagonist, usually isolated either voluntarily or involuntarily. Then there is the villain, who is the epitome of evil, either by his (usually a man) own fall from grace, or by some implicit malevolence. The Wanderer, found in many Gothic tales, is the epitome of isolation as he wanders the earth in perpetual exile, usually a form of divine punishment.

Basic plot structure for a Gothic novel
Action in the Gothic novel tends to take place at night, or at least in a claustrophobic, sunless environment.
ascent (up a mountain high staircase);
descent (into a dungeon, cave, underground chambers or labyrinth) or falling off a precipice; secret passage; hidden doors;
the pursued maiden and the threat or rape or abduction;
physical decay, skulls, cemeteries, and other images of death; ghosts; revenge; family curse; blood and gore; torture; the Doppelganger (evil twin or double); demonic possession; masking/shape-changing; black magic; madness; incest and other broken sexual taboos.

Classic Gothic novels
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronté
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronté