"We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones" (Stephen King). This quote could explain why humans have a fascination with horror and the frightening, which are present in many Gothic novels. Since the 18th century, Gothic Fiction has become a famous genre. Gothic Literature is unique and has certain elements that it consists of. It uses a combination of the supernatural, scary, and the frightening to deliver its point to the reader. From the beginning of the genre in 1765, to more modern Gothic novels, people have not lost interest in Gothic Literature. It has a style all its own.
Gothic literature has been around since 1765 (Academic). It was most popular in England, Germany, and the United States during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (Academic). It is a genre that combines Romanticism, horror, and fiction. It all started with Horace Walpole, who wrote the first gothic novel, called The Castle of Otranto, subtitled "A Gothic Story." The plot included the basis of Gothic literature: a threatening mystery and a curse, as well as hidden passages and heroines. It grew popular quickly and other people started to imitate it. It soon became its own genre (Academic). There are certain elements in Gothic literature that make it unique compared to all other genres. One example is contrasts with light and darkness (Academic). This includes shadows, a beam of moonlight in the blackness, a flickering candle, or the only source of light failing (a candle blown out or an electric failure.) Darks colors, shades of grey, and blood-red colors are present throughout (Course). Another characteristic is drastic landscapes (Academic). For instance, mountains, thick forests, icy lakes, and extreme weather are used throughout to give an eerie affect (Academic). The supernatural can also be used in Gothic literature (Academic). This includes omens and curses, magic, and spirits (Academic). Weather can also play a major part in setting the scene in a Gothic novel. There is often fog used to make things seem more frightening (Heck). Storms are very important, as well (Heck). The flashes of lightening and loud, booming thunder can make the story seem more suspenseful (Heck). Usually, a storm takes place when an important part of the story is going on (Heck). These characteristics truly make the story interesting and give the reader suspense and fright.
The architecture used in Gothic literature is a very crucial element. This type of architecture is called Gothic Revival Architecture (Princeton). Most gothic stories usually take place in medieval buildings (Course). Writers used buildings from the medieval time period because they saw it as a frightening time, with its tyrannical laws enforced in cruel ways and superstitions (Princeton). Some examples of the architecture include labyrinths, dark corridors, winding stairs, castles, dungeons, underground passages, catacombs, basements, attics, and stained glass windows (Course). Ruins of buildings are often used in gothic literature to represent the unavoidable death and decay of humans and their creations (Princeton). Also, having the setting be in an old castle or house can imply that the story is set in the past. Authors use creepy settings to reflect the creepy events that take place. The architecture can give readers feelings of dread, which is an element of gothic literature.
Characters in a Gothic novel have certain traits that are not found in other genres. Characters could be a passionate villain, a hero whose identity is not revealed until the end of the story, a heroine with a need to be rescued–maybe even multiple times throughout the novel (Academic). Usually, the main character is alienated, and it is made clear that they are different from...
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