These will generally include one or more young and innocent virgins of both sexes; monks and nuns, particularly of sinister aspect; and towering male and female characters of overpowering will whose charismatic egotism knows no bounds. Frequently the novels are set in the rugged mountains of Italy and contain an evil Italian character.
Tumultuous weather often accompanies tumultuous passions. The gothic genre specializes in making external conditions metaphors of human emotions, a convention thought to have been derived in part from the works of William Shakespeare.
Critical Resources - Resources for the Study of Gothic Literature
Brigands are frequently employed in the plot, and most gothics of the period employ morbid, lurid imagery, such as a body riddled with worms behind a moldy black veil. The various subdivisions of the gothic may feature any or all of these conventions, being distinguished by relative emphasis. The historical gothic, for example, reveals the supernatural against a genuinely historical background, best exemplified by the works of the Lee sisters, who, although their own novels are infrequently read today, played a part in the evolution of the historical novel through their influence on Sir Walter Scott.
The school of terror provided safe emotional titillation— safe, because the morbidity such novels portray takes place not in a genuine, historical setting, but in some fantasy of the past, and because the fearful effects tend to be explained away rationally at the end of the respective work. Radcliffe is the major paradigm of this subgroup. The Schauer-Romantik school of horror, best represented by Lewis and Maturin, did not offer the reassurance of a moral, rational order.
These works tend to evoke history but stir anxiety without resolving or relieving it. They are perverse and sadistic, marked by the amoral use of thrill. There are very few traditional gothic plots and conventions; a discrete set of such paradigms was recycled and refurbished many times. The Castle of Otranto , emphatically not historical gothic, takes place in a fantasy past.
It is not of the school of terror either; although it resolves its dilemmas in a human fashion, it does not rationally explain the supernatural events it recounts. This earliest of the gothics trembles between horror and terror. The story opens with Manfred, Prince of Otranto, ready to marry his sickly son, Conrad, to the beautiful Isabella.
Manfred, the pattern for future gothic villains of towering egotism and pride, is startled when his son is killed in a bizarre fashion. Manfred precipitously reveals that he is tired of his virtuous wife, Hippolita, and, disdaining both her and their virtuous daughter, Mathilda, attempts to force himself on the exquisite, virginal Isabella, his erstwhile daughter-in-law elect. Theodore is incarcerated in the palace but manages to escape.
Theodore and Isabella, both traversing the mazelike halls of Otranto to escape Manfred, find each other, and Theodore manages to set Isabella free. She finds asylum in the Church of St. Nicholas, site of the statue of Alfonso the Good, under the protection of Father Jerome, a virtuous friar. Manfred threatens Theodore in order to maneuver Jerome into delivering Isabella. The long-lost relative later became a popular feature of the gothic.
A round of comings and goings through tunnels, hallways, and churches ensues. This flight through dark corridors also became almost mandatory in gothic fiction. In the course of his flight, Theodore falls in love with Mathilda. Wishing to prevent Theodore from possessing the woman he thinks is his own beloved, Manfred mistakenly stabs his daughter.
Manfred must now forfeit his kingdom for his bloody deed. The final revelation is that Theodore is actually the true Prince of Otranto, the direct descendant of Alfonso the Good. The statuary helmet flies back to the statue; Isabella is given to Theodore in marriage, but only after he completes a period of mourning for Mathilda; and order is restored. Here is the master plot for the gothic of the Kingdom. Not only will the sins of the past be nullified, but also human understanding will penetrate all the mysteries.
Aubert; she is complemented by a virginal male named Valancourt, whom Emily meets while still in the bosom of her family. When her parents die, she is left at the mercy of her uncle, the villainous Montoni, dark, compelling, and savage in pursuit of his own interests. Montoni whisks Emily away to Udolpho, his great house in the Apennines, where, desperate for money, he exerts himself on Emily in hopes of taking her patrimony while his more lustful, equally brutal friends scheme against her virtue.
Emily resists, fainting and palpitating frequently. Emily soon escapes and, sequestered in a convent, makes the acquaintance of a dying nun, whose past is revealed to contain a murder inspired by lust and greed. Her past also contains Montoni, who acquired Udolpho through her evil deeds. Ultimately, it will belong to Emily and Valancourt. This novel contains the obligatory gothic flights up and down dimly lit staircases and halls and into dark turrets; there are also fabulous vistas of soul-elevating charm in the Apennines, which became a hallmark of gothic, and blood-chilling vistas of banditti by torch and moonlight.
In Udolpho, in a distant turret, Emily finds a body being devoured by worms. The dark night of the soul lifts, and terror yields to the paradise that Emily and Valancourt will engender. This is the master plot for personal gothic: the gothic of the family. Radcliffe was known to distinguish between horror and terror and would have none of the former.
Terror was a blood-tingling experience of which she approved because it would ultimately yield to better things. Horror she identified with decadence, a distemper in the blood that could not be discharged but rendered men and women inactive with fright. He is fervent in his devotion to his calling and is wholly enchanted by a picture of the Virgin, to which he prays.
Mathilda is the very image of the picture of the Virgin to which Ambrosio is so devoted, and, through her virginal beauty, seduces Ambrosio into a degrading sexual entanglement that is fully described. As Mathilda grows more obsessed with Ambrosio, his ardor cools.
Critical Essays on Gothic Horror
Mathilda, the madonna-faced enchantress, now reveals that she is actually a female demon. Ambrosio then rapes Antonia in the foul, suffocating stench of a charnel house in the cathedral catacombs. Each tear excites him further into a frenzy, which he climaxes by strangling the girl. Mathilda reveals his union with Satan through her.
During this time, Ambrosio must suffer the physical and psychological torments of his situation, and the reader along with him. The devil triumphs at the end of this novel. All means of redressing virtue are abandoned, and the reader is left in the abyss with Ambrosio. The book may be called a novel only if one employs the concept of the picaresque in its broadest sense. It is a collection of short stories, each centering on Melmoth, a damned, Faust-like character. The book also minutely details the degradation of a beautiful, virginal island maiden named Immalee, who is utterly destroyed by the idolatrous love of Melmoth.
The denouement is an almost unbearable agony that the reader is forced to endure with the protagonist. Again the horror is eternal. There will never be any quietus for either Ambrosio or Melmoth, or for the reader haunted by them.
Essays on Gothic Literature
These are the molds for the gothic of damnation. The reading public of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was avid for both horror and terror, as well as for supernatural history. Such works were gobbled greedily as they rolled off the presses. Indeed, the readers of the gothic may have begun the mass marketing of literature by ensuring the fortunes of the private lending libraries that opened in response to the gothic binge.
Although the libraries continued after the gothic wave had crested, it was this craze that gave the libraries their impetus. Such private lending libraries purchased numerous copies of long lists of gothic works and furnished subscribers with a list from which they might choose. Like contemporary book clubs, the libraries vied for the most appetizing authors.
- Select Subject Headings?
- Gothic Novels and Novelists | Literary Theory and Criticism?
- The Gothic Novel: A Selection of Critical Essays?
- Journeys into Darkness.
- biology coursework help gcse;
- obesity solution essay.
Unlike the modern clubs, books circulated back and forth, not to be kept by subscribers. Lane went after the works of independent gothic authors but formed the basis of his list by maintaining his own stable of hacks. By the time Melmoth the Wanderer had appeared, this trend had run its course. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem.
Return to Book Page. This volume in the novels section of casebooks surveys the rise and development of the Gothic tale of mystery and horror, from the midth century to the eve of the Victorian period.