Introduction to Gothic Literature



this week as we spend a little bit of time looking at the introduction to Frankenstein it's important that you understand a little bit about Gothic literature since Frankenstein is an example of Gothic literature first of all what is Gothic literature it's a sub-genre of literature so remember we have our main genres like fiction nonfiction poetry drama etc we also have subgenres of each of those gothic is a sub-genre of the fiction category it was created in the late 18th and early 19th centuries I was actually created by a man named Horace Walpole who wrote a book called the castes castle of an tronto and this kind of signifies the start of this genre Gothic literature focuses on the world of the supernatural it's a blend of horror and romance and really you're going to find in Gothic literature that setting is the key so how did the Romantic movement make Gothic literature more popular because the Romantic movement was really important in gaining notoriety gaining popularity for Gothic literature well first of all remember during the Romantic movement that reason is not the most important trait of the human being because the romantics believe that the world cannot always be explained by reason so they look to things beyond reason they centered their faith around the concepts of both imagination and nature so when you think about romantics the two things that you come to your mind are the concepts of imagination and nature in nature the romantics believed was a great power of healing they believed that nature could cleanse both the body and the soul they went on to define imagination as a creative force and they compared it to the creative force of nature they also found that in the imagination that that was the source of morality and truth so all of your ideas of whether it's right or wrong the actual truth of humanity was all housed in the imagination so let's look a little bit more closely at the elements of Gothic literature as I said before setting width is key in Gothic literature oftentimes you're going to find the setting in a castle if you switch it to the modern day you're going to probably see them done in mansions usually you're going to find things like secret passages trap doors sometimes they're connected to caves so that adds to the haunting the mystery of it so the castle setting is key to Gothic literature also this idea of an atmosphere of mystery and suspense so you get this idea the fear of the unknown and many times the actual plot of the whole piece of literature is built around a mystery maybe there's a disappearance some kind of unexplainable event sometimes there's also an ancient prophecy usually the ancient prophecy has something to do with the castle or the people who live there and the prophecy is usually pretty vague pretty confusing we also have omens portents and divisions so for instance a character might have a disturbing dream maybe some some glimpse at what's coming there's also the element of the supernatural or other unexplainable events so we have things like ghosts or inanimate objects coming to life think of the idea the painting with the eyes that follow you that would be an element that could be found in Gothic literature high emotion Gothic literature is very dramatic you have characters who have strong feelings such as anger surprise a lot of the times it's going to be terror and so this emotion runs high throughout the whole piece you have characters frequently crying weeping screaming so these are not calming pieces of literature okay continuing oftentimes you have the women in distress so the whole female character that's fainting or terrified so you need to have somebody come in to save her of course you also have oftentimes in these type of novels or these types of stories women who are threatened by some kind of powerful male might be the lord of the house might be a father or a guardian but you have some male character who is threatening those a bit of a tolerant oftentimes you also have a thing called metonymy and that's a type of writer full metal or excuse me where one thing is standing for another so you see rain and that's standing for sorrow you didn't see that oftentimes even in movies you have a funeral scene and so there's a great deal of rain and fog and and kind of gloom that's the type of metaphor you have something physical and you have it standing for an idea or a concept there's also a circle area that can be found within Gothic literature let me give you a little bit more of an example of that the vocabulary that you find in Gothic literature really focuses really enhances these concepts of mystery fear terror sorrow surprise haste which means the need to hurry anger just a sheer largeness in darkness so for instance to promote the idea of mystery we have words like ghost miracle ominous specter fear you might see words like despair dismal panic horrid whore and it would go on largeness you were you going to find the words like enormous gigantic tremendous vast so you're going to definitely find the very specific vocabulary found within Gothic literature and that just serves to build the theme build the setting even more that idea of mystery and suspense there are also elements of romance in Gothic literature I told you is both supernatural horror and romance that signifies this sub-genre so you're going to see some kind of powerful love you also get this uncertainty of reciprocation so does the one individual love the other person back what is the beloved thinking you also have on returned a lot sometimes so one point the person's love isn't returned perhaps it will be returned at some later date and that can add a little bit to the mystery of it that age old idea of a tension between true love and father's control remember one of the elements is that tyrannical male figure with the woman in distress and so this can also be brought into the romance of it get the idea of lovers being parted something stands in their way maybe it's geography where they live maybe one has been forced to flee locked in a dungeon and arrested maybe somebody is deliberately keeping them apart we also have this idea of love threatening someone virtuous so we have the fair maiden and now some evil man yeah really cares for this this maiden and wants to basically destroy her we have rivals oftentimes in Gothic literature so one of the people in love has more than one person who's trying to get that person's attention and again Gothic literature doesn't have to have all of these elements it just has to have some of them you are going to find though I think that when you read true Gothic literature that it's going to contain a great deal of these elements this week as you read the introduction to Frankenstein you can already see some of these elements directly within that work and so I would like you to complete the chart that goes with this assignment picking out some of the things that you see in the introduction I'm matching them to some of these elements that I've reviewed if you have questions please don't hesitate to give me a call or email me Thanks you

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