Women in Gothic Literature

Topics: Gothic fiction, Dracula, Macbeth Pages: 3 (865 words) Published: April 4, 2011
Women in gothic literature are presented as either evil or victims how far do you agree? The Gothic genre is an increasingly popular area for feminist studies, showing contrasts in society at the time and the expectations of women within it. In pre industrial times, women were expected to play a subservient role to men, they were expected to marry young and bare children, they would simply care for their husbands and support the family, they were denied the right to vote or own property and were expected to be the innocently silent, supportive backbone behind patriarchal society. It is noted that female characters in Gothic novels and plays often fall into one of two categories: innocent victims, subservient to the strong and powerful male characters, or the shameless and dangerous predator. The stereotypical female in Gothic literature is portrayed as an innocent, helpless maiden, passive, vulnerable, dependant and weak. However, a common theme in gothic novels is for this feeble female to feel sympathy for the villain, for example, Elizabeth in Frankesntein, Lucy in Dracula and Ophelia in Hamlet, sadly, this usually results in the innocent females tragic death such as Ophelia’s untimely suicide, which, similarly is seen in another of Shakespeare’s women, Lady Macbeth, although this female is certainly not fitting to the “helepless maiden” stereotype. She is an example of the other female figure prominent in Gothic literature, the strong, dominating, powerful predator. Ambitious and destructive, she offers a sexual threat. Lady Macbeth, so enthralled by dangerous ambition, she claims she would kill her own children, “How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me: I would, while it was smiling in my face, have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums, and dash'd the brains out.” Another example of the un-stereotypical female would be the vampires in “Dracula”, Stoker depicts them as deviants and sexually aggressive in order to undermine the foundations of a...
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