Gothic Literature Informaiton

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Aspects of Gothic Literature
December 2012

Contents

Gothic elements in some pre-eighteenth century literature……………………….page 3 The Gothic in Literature of the 20th/21st Century……………………………………...page 6 Transgression and Excess………………………………………………………………………..page 9 Structure of Gothic Literature………………………………………………………………..page 11

GOTHIC ELEMENTS IN SOME PRE-EIGHTEENTH CENTURY LITERATURE

Horace Walpole The Castle of Otranto (1764)

21st century gothic style
* Originate from a Germanic tribe
* Came to describe ornate architecture – gloomy splendor * Gothic writing found in literature before the 18th century – Gothic is a recurring element of story telling * A permanent part of human experience

* Comes from deep within the human psych
* Beowulf (Anglo-Saxon) the monster Grendel – plays on the fear of the unknown * Gothic words
* FEAR
* CORRUPTION
* FREEDOM
* DARKNESS
* GRAVEYARD
* SPECTRE
* IRRATIONAL
* Gothic literature is full of oppositions – world of binaries, ambivalence – virtue vice, reason irrational, law and justice tyranny, light darkness, natural supernatural KEY GOTHIC ELEMENTS

* The Presence of some ‘supernatural’
* Monsters, demons etc.
* Macabre and gloomily atmospheric
* Church
* Castles
* Abbeys
* Graveyards
* Expressions and experiences of fear and terror
* Characters with in the narrative itself – intra-fictional characters * Reader also experiences these feelings
* Transgression and excess
* Fred Botting – identifies two words that encapsulates central aspects of Gothic literature * Transgression – breaking of moral, ethical and conventional codes * Excess - Crossing boundaries of what is expected-sexual, moral, ethical TEXTS

* Chaucer – Canterbury Tales 1400
* Marlowe- Doctor Faustus (1588)
* Shakespeare – Macbeth (1605)
* Milton - Paradise Lost, books 1 and 2 (1667)

* The Pardoner’s tale (in the Canterbury tales)
* On seeing a funeral, drunken men decide to kill death. They catch an old man who wants to die – they threaten the old man – find a man with gold coins – 1 rioter find take him away under the cover of nightfall. 2 rioters plot to kill; the 1 rioter plots to poison the others. They found death through their own greed. * Dr Faustus

* Clever man makes pact with the devil. Exchanges soul with 24 years of power and omniscience, thinks that he will see himself as g-d. Taken to hell by Lucifer. * Macbeth
* Makes for himself a personal hell. 11th century Scotland – a man (Macbeth) is tempted by the 3 witches and spurred by his wife to become king, murders king. Has to murder others until he too meets his death. Escalation of spiraling violence, ending of death of the perpetrator. * Paradise Lost

* Set in Hell. Rebellion of Satan, army of fellow angels against g-d in heaven. Fall from heaven into hell, where they build a great conference hall called pandemonium – plan to take revenge on g-d by spoiling his project of ‘earth’ by ruining Adam and Eve. The first human transgression – disobeying G-ds instruction.

IMPORTANCE OF TRANSGRESSION
In all 4 texts the central characters are transgressors
* Characters are challengers of accepted norms, breakers of established orders * The Pardon – encounter someone whom is a self acknowledged hypocenter – happy to break the moral laws of humanity in order to make himself as happy as possible. 3 characters – lead by greed, vile lives lead by violence. * Dr Faustus – wishes to rival g-d in power and in knowledge. Makes a pact with Satan. Aligns himself with the enemies of G-d. Challenges divine authority. Ultimately – harms no one but himself. * Macbeth – prepared to commit not only murder, but also the murder of the king in order to obtain honor. Monarchs, at the time, were considered to be divine, g-ds human...
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