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Gothic Literature & the Horror Genre

Gothic Literature & the Horror Genre. Historic Context – Gothic?. 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.

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Gothic Literature & the Horror Genre

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  1. Gothic Literature & the Horror Genre

  2. Historic Context – Gothic? • Gothand 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.

  3. Horace Walpole(Great-Great Grandfather of Modern Horror) • 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

  4. Typical Gothic Conventions

  5. 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

  6. Gothic architecture12th~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.

  7. Literary Connection 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...").

  8. Metonymy of gloom and terror • The metonymy of gloom and horror. • Metonymy is a subtype of metaphor, in which something (like rain) is used to stand for something else (like sorrow). For example, the film industry likes to use metonymy as a quick shorthand, so we often notice that it is raining in funeral scenes.

  9. Note the following metonymies that suggest mystery, danger, or the supernatural

  10. Importance of Setting • The setting is greatly influential in Gothic & horror novels. • Evokes the atmosphere of horror and dread • Portrays the deterioration of its world. • Decaying, ruined scenery implies that at one time there was a thriving world, something treasured and appreciated. Now, all that lasts is the decaying shell of a once thriving dwelling.

  11. Archetypal Characters • The Gothic Hero/Heroine = archetype  a pattern to characterization. • There is always the protagonist, usually isolated either voluntarily or involuntarily. • 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.

  12. Basic Gothic Plot Structure • Action tends to take place at night, or at least in a claustrophobic, sunless environment. • Physical/symbolic ascent (up a high staircase) • Physical/symbolic descent (into a dungeon, cave, underground chambers or labyrinth) or falling off a precipice; secret passage; hidden doors; • the pursued maiden and the threat of 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.

  13. Other Gothic Novels • 1765: Horace Walpole. The Castle of Otranto1794: Ann Radcliffe. The Mysteries of Udolpho1794: William Godwin. Caleb Williams1796: Mathew Lewis. The Monk1798: Regina Maria Roche. Clermont 1806: Ann Mary Hamilton. Montalva or Annals of Guilt1807: Charlotte Dacre. The Libertine1818: Mary Shelly. Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus 1820: Charles Robert Maturin. Melmonth the Wanderer1826: Ann Radcliff: Gaston de Blondeville1826: William Child Green. The Abbot of Montserrat or The Pool of Blood

  14. Modern Gothic Novels • Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronté • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronté Horror/Modern Gothic Writers • Anne Rice • Edgar Allan Poe • Joyce Carol Oates • Stephen King • Stephenie Meyer

  15. Modern Horror

  16. A Descendant of the Gothic • Horror can be either physical or supernatural – or both • It is meant to elicit fear and terror in the reader/observer • Unlike the gothic, there is not always a neat, “packaged” ending – sometimes, evil triumphs over good • Humanity as monstrous

  17. Three Major Types of Horror • Psychological horror - an element of horror that toys with the mind and targets the psyche. Generally, this type of horror is internal and deals with the inner darkness of human thought.

  18. The Second Major Type of Horror • Sociological horror - generally serves to comment on a specific aspect of society - cultural traditions, values, social issues - and is often externalized into something monstrous. Corruption is often a centerpiece in this type of horror.

  19. And Finally… • Allegorical horror - largely symbolic and may hold a deeper or almost hidden meaning, drawing on both internalized and externalized horrors. It is the Big Bad Wolf, the Witch in the Gingerbread House, the Vampire stalking in the night…

  20. Typical Traits of Horror • Familiarity of Situation • Folklore & Mythology • Fear of Death (Gore and Dismemberment) • Inner Human Nature – “Mirror of Ugliness” • Taboo or Tainted Desires • Attack of Personal Space, Beliefs, Values • Terror of Unknown • Loss • Lack of Control

  21. Sources • Gothic (1-14) – Adapted from http://schoolwires.henry.k12.ga.us/37252032811819983/lib/37252032811819983/Gothic_Literature.ppt • Created by J. Davis, Adams City High School

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