Over the centuries, the American fascination for the grotesque and mysterious elements of Gothic literature never died off since its beginnings with Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto in 1764. The novel was a success; its creative usage of a remote and obscure setting, the supernatural and medieval motifs were found so attractive that its imitations began rapidly publishing across America. Very soon, the Gothic genre was an established classic. Even after undergoing through many changes such as evolved time periods and cultures, the major components and themes of horror, medieval settings and abnormal characters from the Gothic movement are still present among today’s novels and movies, has inspired new genres such as detective fiction, science fiction and the ghost story as well and offers moral and cultural criticism for today’s society.
Once admired for its daring originality, its use of the supernatural as well as motifs of medieval times, The Castle of Otranto would be criticized by today’s modern readers for lacking suspense and emphasis. Published 246 years after The Castle of Otranto, The House on Black Lake by Anastasia Blackwell , though a contemporary piece, shares gothic similarities with it, such as a woman in distress and an air of gloom, horror, mystery and suspense. It tells the story of Alexandra Brighton, who sets off on an investigation of the mysterious home of Ruth and Ramey Sandeley after experiencing a most horrific and unrestful night. She ends up being enticed into a web of her own hidden truths, deceit, and betrayal as well as a fanatic obsession for Ramey Sandeley. Her and her child’s safety are threatened, but a curiosity for the unknown is what makes the element of terror in this writing and other works so emotionally appealing for the readers. Unlike The Castle of Otranto, The House on Black Lake puts emphasis over building a Gothic atmosphere with diction, tone...
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