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The Gothic Novel. A short introduction to the genre. Origins. Gothic novel reaction against Augustan ideals (many feature fights between fathers and sons) Some elements found in earlier ballads ( the supernatural , witches, ghosts, ghouls, drowned sailors knocking on girls’ windows)

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the gothic novel

The Gothic Novel

A short introduction to the genre

  • Gothic novel reaction against Augustan ideals (many feature fights between fathers and sons)
  • Some elements found in earlier ballads (the supernatural, witches, ghosts, ghouls, drowned sailors knocking on girls’ windows)
  • Violence of Renaissance drama which was then coming back in vogue
  • The rise of Methodism, wilder than Anglicanism
  • Influence of Rousseau: nature and primitives
gothic versus mainstream
Gothic versus Mainstream
  • Mainstream is realism, Gothic is emotional, extravagant, irrational
  • Gothic plays on awe, ectasy, disorder and is often deliberately anti-intellectual or nonintellectual
  • Gothic refers to a form that is frowned upon in architecture….
mary shelley
Mary Shelley
  • Father Godwin celebrated writer, champion of justice for all, proposes that Man is perfectable
  • Mother Mary Woolstonecraft, feminist avant la lettre, dies 11 days after Mary is born
  • Mary feels guilt about Mother’s death
  • Meets married Shelley when she is 16, affair, more guilt, miscariageof daughter, even more guilt
  • Percy Shelley advocates free love, pair elopes with sister-in-law Claire Clairmont in tow
  • Mary is very intelligent and interested in science
mary shelley s frankenstein
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Snowy summer of 1816 Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, age 19, and her husband-to-be Percy Bysshe Shelley, visited Lord Byron at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva
  • Reading Fantasmagoriana, an anthology of German ghost stories, Byron challenged the Shelleysand his personal physician John William Polidorito each compose a story of their own, the contest being won by whoever wrote the scariest tale.
mary shelley s frankenstein1
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Mary’s idea after nightmare during which she saw "the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together." This was the germ of Frankenstein.
  • Byron wrote a short bit on the vampire legends heard while travelling Balkans, from this Polidoricreated The Vampyre(1819), the progenitor of the romantic vampire literary genre.
  • Recent experiments and philosophies
  • Mary’s mind much on still-born child
  • Guilt about suicide of Shelley’s wife
  • The feeling of being cast out by society (all three were..)
  • Mary’s father had written a gothic novel about a man who was hounded (Caleb Williams)
  • The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (the obsessed narrator)
what s new about frankenstein
What’s new about Frankenstein?
  • Not a supernatural ghost but a real, ‘created’ monster
  • Much of story takes place in society, not in dungeons or castles
  • No barely hidden sexuality in the story
  • Legend of Prometheus (violation of the contract between God / the gods and Man)
very short plot
Very short plot
  • Captain Walton discovers a Dr Frankenstein in the Arctic
  • Through letters he recounts the doctor’s life
  • Monster created in chapter 5!
  • Monster created with ‘materials’ and imbued with ‘the spark of life’, no mention here of thunder and electricity
  • Frankenstein abhors his creation, it escapes
very short plot1
Very short plot
  • Frankenstein’s brother is killed, Justine accused and hanged but Frankenstein knows whodunnit
  • Monster tries to befriend villagers but fails as they get frightened
  • Frankenstein meets monster again in the Alps, agrees to make him a mate, but reneges
  • Monster vows revenge, on F.’s wedding night: it kills F.’s friend Clerval, and after the wedding Elisabeth, F’s wife, too.
very short plot2
Very short plot
  • Frankenstein wants revenge
  • He follows the monster everywhere, finally to the Arctic region
  • After telling Walton his story, he asks him to kill the monster if he dies before he can do it himself.
  • F. dies.
  • Just after his death, the monster arrives finds his creator is dead and decides to build a funeral pile for himself, leaves the ship and disappears on his ice-raft in the darkness.