Gothic Literature

Gothic Literature Gothic Literature - Start

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Gothic Literature - Description

Definition. Gothic.  (. goth. -IK): a literary style . usually . portrayed fantastic tales dealing with horror, despair, the grotesque and other “dark” subjects. Gothic literature was named for the apparent influence of the dark gothic architecture of the period on the genre. Also, many of the.... ID: 186685 Download Presentation

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Gothic Literature

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Presentations text content in Gothic Literature


Gothic Literature






-IK): a literary style


portrayed fantastic tales dealing with horror, despair, the grotesque and other “dark” subjects. Gothic literature was named for the apparent influence of the dark gothic architecture of the period on the genre. Also, many of these Gothic tales took places in such “gothic” surroundings.


 may people's eyes to the possible uses of the supernatural in literature. 

Charles Dickens was one of the first to


this approach into his literature


Gothic Elements

MurderDeathSuicideGhostsDemonsGloomy settingsFamily secretsDungeonsCursesTortureVampiresSpiritsCastlesTombsTerror

As you copy this chart down, also write down a specific example from

A Tale of Two Cities

that Dickens




A few more Gothic elements

(Again, as you copy these down, write down a specific instance from

A Tale of Two Cities.)


in distress (frequently faints in horror)

Secret corridors, passageways, or rooms

Ancestral curses

Ruined castles with graveyards nearby


, dream, death-like states


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.


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


Importance of Setting

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.


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


, usually isolated either voluntarily or involuntarily. Then there is the


, who is the epitome of evil, either by his (usually a man) own fall from grace, or by some implicit malevolence. The


, 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


(evil twin or double); demonic possession; masking/shape-changing; black magic; madness; incest and other broken sexual taboos.


Other Gothic Novels

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

(1831) by

Victor Hugo

The Fall of the House of Usher

(1839) by

Edgar Allan Poe


The Tell-Tale Heart

" (1843) by Edgar Allan Poe (

Full text




The Monkey's Paw

(1902 by

W. W. Jacobs


Full text

at Project Gutenberg)


Modern Gothic Novels

The Phantom of the Opera

(1910) by




Full text

at Project Gutenberg)


The Lottery

" (1951) by

Shirley Jackson

I am Legend

(1954) by

Richard Matheson

The Chocolate War

(1974) By

Robert Cormier

Interview with the Vampire

(1976) by

Anne Rice

The Shining

(1977) by Stephen King

The Little Friend

(2002) by Donna


Shutter Island

(2003) by



The Thirteenth Tale

(2006) by




Other Gothic Writers

Anne Rice

Edgar Allan Poe

Joyce Carol Oates

Stephen King



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