Qualitative Analysis on Facets Used in Gothic Literature
Gothic Origin Research
The use of Gothic literature conveys the notion that relates to the irrational acts that portray a certain event as ruined, chaotic, and dangerous during the historical psychosocial contexts that prevailed in the ending moments of the eighteenth century all through to the nineteenth century. Some of the greatest Gothic literature authors produced their writings in the mid- 1700s, with Edmond Burke, 1757 and Horace Walpole 1764 being the early Gothic novels ever written[i]. Though Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful was not regarded as a Gothic due to its base in the philosophical element, it contributed greatly to the development of preceding works of literature for instance at the inception the graveyard school of poetry, the poets and authors largely concentrated in themes that were largely based on Gothic[ii].
New entrants in Gothic literature encountered an easy moment since Walpole’s, the castle of Otranto had created a strong background with the plot involving literary and other thematic elements that upheld the Gothic movement that had gained ground. Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, Frankenstein is among the early forms of Gothic genres that presented the transformation and transition from other literary works all through to the twentieth century[iii]. It is critical to note that the more phenomenal influence to today’s forms of literary genres that takes the form of supernatural and horror exerts are as result of the early Gothic elements by inceptors, for instance Dracula, 1897 by Bram Stoker where supernatural and horror fascination prevailed throughout the novel[iv].
The Gothic’s defining characteristic is and has always been the irrational, a state or experience expressed through the Gothic’s fascination with unreliable narrators (in questionable mental states for a variety of reasons), illogical events, bodies that resist normal classifications, spaces that defy order, and characters that eschew reason and logic or are driven into states of mental decline[v]. For example, The Turn of the Screw is often read as a text with an unreliable narrator and the ghosts within the story as a result of the governess’ instability as depicted through her manuscript[vi]. Likewise, the use of epistolary documents in Dracula draws explicit attention to the subjectivity of its narrators.
From the idea that these texts are distorting reality, there is a significant claim to be made in how this relates to postmodern media, one of the most resounding fears of post modernity that the texts we consume are changing us and changing our reality[vii]. While it would be erroneous to suggest the idea that media can be corrupting is in any way a new concept comments that even ultimately moralizing works of Gothic were censored as ‘degenerate’ in the 1890s the lack of censorship and the overload of material in late-capitalist society makes this a prominent concern[viii]. This is while the validity of these anxieties is debatable whenever a violent incident occurs, especially one involving a young person the question of whether the media is the underlying cause of these violent actions.
“Usually but not always described as highly sexual beings, vampires are often but not exclusively found in European folklore”[ix]. Examples of vampires found in Gothic Literature include John Polidori’s “The Vampyre,” and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which tells the story of a Transylvanian vampire Count Dracula that can only be defeated by the occultist Van Helsing. Another is Ann Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, which brings to the forefront the old bloodsucker’s status as a villain-hero and even invites our sympathy for him[x]. Thus, a contemporary character may not share the name Dracula, but literary minds often borrow traits and characteristics from Stoker’s title character as a way to perpetuate his immortal legend[xi].
The character of the notorious vampire has not only been altered within literature; with the help of technology and the invention of cinema, the physical face of Dracula has also evolved throughout the years[xii]. Statistics reveal that Dracula has appeared in over 130 films since the publication of Stoker’s novel; that is more films than any other fictional character with the exception of Sherlock Holmes.
According to Gelder, “Most people, and certainly would ‘know’ about Dracula from films rather than from Stoker’s novel, popular as it has been”. Stoker’s title character has had many faces on film[xiii]. For the most part, vampires are on a rotation, or a cycle of popularity. Creative and literary minds continue to use the vampire as a means of commenting on their societies. In addition, although certain characteristics of undead protagonists have evolved, Stoker’s work remains the template for all of vampire fiction[xiv]. With the current popularity of vampire literature, films, and television series, it does not appear that the mythical bloodsuckers will lose their appeal anytime soon[xv]. Furthermore, it is safe to assume that vampires will continue evolve and conform into beings that attract the attention of fresh generations for years to come.
Gothic Nature Research
Illogical bodies tend to take the form of monsters such as those found in Dracula and Frankenstein. Gothic spaces are in constant flux and regularly defy physical order[xvi]. Characters that fall into mental decline are well represented in many of Poe’s short stories, most notably, in the novel “The Fall of the House of Usher” with the sickly and delusional Roderick Usher[xvii]. Subjects that reflect the irrational the monster, the Gothic space, the unreliable or declining mind have become persistent tropes within the Gothic genre. The whole plot is built in relation to some Gothic elements that are used to articulate the novel and which contribute to produce, in the end, a Gothic novel if it is considered all together[xviii]. Another element taken from Gothic tradition is the opposition between spaces: the terror appears when the character is alone and, specially, when he or she is in a particular place.
At the end of the century, in the period known as fin de siècle, more Gothic works were produced, being the most famous Bram Stoker´s Dracula and Henry James´ The Turn of the Screw[xix]. The first example is extremely well known and it has become the most famous vampire story ever written. It has also become a model in cinema, fashion, and cultural trends since it was published. Stoker had already published other horror stories; for instance, a tale entitled ―The Crystal Cup, first put into print in 1872.
To create Dracula, Bram Stoker was influenced by his professor, the Hungarian Arminius Vámbéry who told him about legends from East Europe and about Vlad the Impaler, prince of Wallachia, who was the historical character used as model for the building of the character of Dracula[xx]. Here, Stoker retakes the resource of the epistolary novel in order to compose the story.
The Turn of the Screw is a Gothic story, full of Gothic elements in order to produce terror and horror. “The horror shown here is an antecedent of the psychological fear developed by Stephen King in the twentieth century. In this story, the subjects of horror are kids, what makes the story even more horror-striking”[xxi].
Gothic Culture Research
Frankenstein, 1831 introduction, which is a reproduction of her original piece in 1818, Mary Shelley refers to her famous novel as her ‘hideous progeny’ her very own monster brought to life. This is mimicked when Botting refers to a “monstrous reading public” of Gothic literature created by the invention of printing presses. Because of the earthly nature of monsters they are often less concerned with the supernatural and more closely related to the failings of science—the unreasonable product of excess reason. Gothic, unlike science fiction, has little interest in explaining the workings of scientific method, but rather relishes in the near magic of new technologies.
This extends to the present from Frankenstein, “which articulated fears to do with the power of science, godlessness, social anarchy, and privation. Frankenstein’s monster has set the tone for the creatures that populate the Gothic that undermines the possibility of purity. Additionally, much of contemporary society is based in what is insubstantial and ghostly arguing that the “contemporary Gothic’s preoccupation with freaks, scars, diseased flesh, monstrous births and, above all, blood is an attempt to reinstate the physicality of the body in an increasingly decorpo realized information society”. This again reinforces the idea that the monstrous is an affront to the technological: the freak is placed regularly on a scale that leads away from enlightenment reason.
Frankenstein’s monster supplies the model for the created monster: where humans interfere with nature. Pieces are collected together in order to create an inharmonious whole whose creation is a demonstration of corrupted genius and brilliance and whose tainted birth becomes the symbol of flesh as production and consumerism[xxii]. Frankenstein’s monster is prolific in Gothic fiction in literal retellings of Frankenstein, but there is also a less explicit influence that can be seen in many Gothic texts that relate instances of created beings. This idea of a monstrous creation is not limited to physical bodies but, as suggested at the start of this section, has been applied to printed material – the hideous progeny of Frankenstein and the monstrous reading public attended to by new printing technology.
Several figures die during the course of the narratives and return as ghosts who exist on the sidelines of the lives of the living. Often they require help from the living to make their way and, as such, ghosts are marginalized from life and stand in as a representation of marginalization[xxiii]. This makes another way the evocation of history through the use of ghostly apparitions as reanimated figures who reference some past time.
In spite of the inconsistence within the statements about the genre of The Turn of the Screw, James insists anyway that it is a ghost story; though it falls short of his original expectation[xxiv]. The other reason concerns the dilemma in which he was still caught when he started to compose the novel. It was due largely to two reasons that Henry James went all out to practice what he would have called low forms of art[xxv]. Any ghost story, if it was popular with the general public, could then both establish an author‘s name and bring about a tremendous income[xxvi]. The latter part of the 19th had seen growing interest in the study of ghosts from clinical, spiritual, and psychological perspectives.
Gothic Novel Plotting
One of the most significant aspects of gothic novel is the setting; the Frankenstein for instance has a contextual setting of darkness and distant locations like castles, isolated places, and dungeons. Victor ends up in a cell during his journey from the North Pole to Ireland, which presents the gloominess and treacherous occurrences during in the novel. The Alps and arctic sea are other sublime landscapes that the author involves in the novel to bring out the setting of the novel; these bizarre settings are inhabited by monsters that are completely different from vampires.
Most Gothic novels have this element of supernatural happenings and are influenced by the dark architecture of the periods within which they existed. Also, many of these Gothic tales took places in such “gothic” surroundings, sometimes a dark and stormy castle as shown in Mary Wollston craft Shelly’s Frankenstein, or Bram Stoker’s infamous Dracula. In Dracula this supernatural world is perfectly developed and controlled by a monster, an immortal vampire who wants to take control of the world. The central plot is the story of this supernatural creature and how the characters try to fight against supernatural forces and vanquish him.
The story line of Frankenstein can be understood without coming into contact with the original text due to the contextual surrounding that a narrator may present to you. The factious nature of the original writing present multiple signs that transverse throughout the story bringing a more vivid presentation of what the author intended[xxvii]. The original Gothic literature has largely boiled down to these signs to the point that this is a large portion of what is referenced when we speak of the Gothic. The sole aim of the various Gothic that are presented aim at explaining some of the signs and illustrations that are used in pretexts while the paratext is an inevitable answer to the shared concerns of the Gothic and the postmodern in terms of their commercial relationship to the visual[xxviii].
Generally, Gothic is a genre that has enjoyed many definitions and categorizing lists—most likely due to its nature of being both extremely formulaic and regularly intertextual. For example, several tropes might be expected from a Gothic text: ghosts (The Turn of the Screw), monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein)[xxix]. However, not all Gothic texts have these things; for instance, a text might have a lingering feeling of irrationality and dysfunction that could lead it to be labeled Gothic. It is also true that the mere presence of such features does not necessarily create a Gothic text. Unlike its predecessors, Gothic literature seeks to identify readers’ feelings with the characters’ emotions, or to arouse readers’ sympathy by evoking pity and fear; and to explore the mind of man and the causes of evil in it.
Comparative Gothic Novel Analysis
The use of Gothic literature conveys the notion that relates to the irrational acts that portray a certain event as ruined, chaotic, and dangerous during the historical psychosocial contexts that prevailed in the ending moments of the eighteenth century all through to the nineteenth century. Some of the greatest Gothic literature authors produced their writings in the mid- 1700s, with Edmond Burke, 1757 and Horace Walpole 1764 being the early Gothic novels ever written[xxx]. Though Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful was not regarded as a Gothic due to its base in the philosophical element, it contributed greatly to the development of preceding works of literature for instance at the inception the graveyard school of poetry, the poets and authors largely concentrated in themes that were largely based on Gothic[xxxi].
In the Gothic novel, we can distinguish recurrent stereotypes, whereas in the Horror novel, we perceive the breaking of these stereotypes. The hero in the Gothic novel is a young and brave man determined to save the damsel in distress who, of course, needs the help of a man. In Stoker’s novel, Jonathan Harker is absolutely scared of Count Dracula and he is attacked by the latter’s three brides. In Dracula we have both sides of the coin, Mina and Lucy, who are pure and follow the Christian moral codes, and the vampire women, who represent sin and forbidden sexuality. Stoker uses these vampire women as a symbol of the change of the role of women at that time, and to show how this change threats the established order. In the Gothic novel, women are always represented as pure creatures but in the Horror fiction novel, they begin to be related to sex and sin.
Dracula is a satanic figure who represents sin, even his physical description reminds us of the devil: “He is the monstrous translation of God, whose desire is to make all the characters his children of the night” (Killeen 86). Everything that concerns him is synonymous with damnation and sin. The three brides of Dracula are depicted as sexual predators; they are the example of what a woman of that age should never become. Because of this, they must be destroyed.
It was the mode of the day for the intellectual elites to be involved in the scientific study of ghosts, and various associations had been set up for this purpose. Among these were the Ghost Club at Trinity College and the Society for Psychological Research (SPR), to the latter of which Henry James‘s brother became a member, was a vice president for eight years, and was elected its presidents for 1894-1896[xxxii]. Henry James had been in continual contact with William and had a great friendship with the founding president of SPR Henry Sidgwick, a professor of moral philosophy at Trinity College.
If we are, to borrow Henry James‘s words, wary enough, we will find Douglas is actually familiar with, if not takes part in, the scientific studies. In the prologue, Douglas mentions that he became acquainted with his sister‘s governess on one of his college vacations: I was at Trinity and I found her at home on my coming down the second summer[xxxiii]. James‘s frame-story narrator says that he copies the manuscript much later when Douglas, near death sends him the handwritten copy the governess has sent to Douglas before her own death. If that much later was something like half dozen years, and was shortly before the story was published in 1898, then simple arithmetic suggests that Douglas could have been at Trinity in 1851, when the Ghost Club was established[xxxiv].
New entrants in Gothic literature encountered an easy moment since Walpole’s, the castle of Otranto had created a strong background with the plot involving literary and other thematic elements that upheld the Gothic movement that had gained ground. Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, Frankenstein is among the early forms of Gothic genres that presented the transformation and transition from other literary works all through to the twentieth century[xxxv]. It is critical to note that the more phenomenal influence to today’s forms of literary genres that takes the form of supernatural and horror exerts are as result of the early Gothic elements by inceptors, for instance Dracula, 1897 by Bram Stoker where supernatural and horror fascination prevailed throughout the novel[xxxvi].
The Gothic pieces of literature include, therefore, supernatural elements: ghosts, dark forests, abandoned abbeys, evil characters, etc. However, Gothic literature was not born in the Middle Ages or in an obscure period of History, but during the eighteen century, as a reaction against the Enlightenment[xxxvii]. Enlightenment exalted reason, which was present in every aspect of life; this was not only meant to be so for politics, the economy, state organization or arts, but also for matters such as family organization, religion, and culture, which only concerned daily life.
The major intent of the various Gothic productions was striving to portray the negative side of the characters majorly the main characters. The events in these works of literature present the differentiation of sanity and madness, reason and reality as well as nightmares and dreams, which prevailed during the mid eighteenth to mid nineteenth centuries[xxxviii]. The rational mind is transcended through the presentation of supernatural, evil forces, turbulent nature, contemplation of the ruin and the failings of humanity such as sin and depravity[xxxix]. The fear such violent imagery provokes causes the reader to lose their sense of self; they are so wrapped up in their emotional response to the text that they forget all else.
The production of common fears in Gothic fiction has a relationship to what causes anxiety for the population at large anxiety often relating to irrational fears or concerns involved with cultural changes[xl]. The study of anatomy and evolution was introduced, taking away the power of God as the creator of life, fiction such as Frankenstein began to appear as it become conceivable that life could be created by humans[xli].
This is also demonstrated though the depiction of the family unit in teen horror films in the late twentieth century which coincided with the increase in the rate of divorce[xlii]. The Gothic in this context can be seen as an expression of society-wide mental breakdown. By taking what causes mass concern, it plays out the worst possible outcome in a safe space, such as the cinema or the pages of a novel.
Migrating effortlessly from text to drama to image, and has capitalized (above all via Frankenstein) on the modern. This has gone on to the extent that the monster has been removed from his context and has become merely a sign of the Gothic, an archetype of the genre[xliii]. Even when he is no longer to be feared when he becomes merely a cartoon character with green skin and bolts in his neck—the creature remains Gothic precisely because he has been boiled down to an image and because that sign sits within a specific history of Gothic reflexivity.
Wordless novels also play with these ideas of visually representing the narrative. Novels draw heavily on the language of the silent film by emulating cinematic point of view, framing, and sequencing as well as the exaggerated expressions employed by the silent actors to impart narrative without dialogue[xliv]. One difference between these texts and film is that the pace is determined by the reader rather than dictated by the flow of the film enabling skipping between sections, lingering over parts that seem interesting and removing those that bore[xlv].
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Pikula, Tanya. “Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” And Late-Victorian Advertising Tactics: Earnest Men, Virtuous Ladies, and Porn.” English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 55.3 (2012): 283-302. Academic Search Premier. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.
Tabachnick, Stephen E. “Two Tales of Gothic Adventure: She and Heart of Darkness.” English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 56.2 (2013): 189-200. Academic Search Premier. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.
Tchaprazov, Stoyan. “The Slovaks and Gypsies of Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Vampires in Human Flesh.” English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 58.4 (2015): 523-535. Academic Search Premier. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.
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About Poe’s Short Stories. Retrieved from http://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/p/poes-short-stories/about-poes-short-stories
[iii] Shelley (11) ) “ Frankenstein is among the early forms of Gothic genres that presented the transformation and transition from other literary works all through to the twentieth century ”
[iv] Pikula (283) “Stoker’s article on censorship, however, in which he emphasizes purity of intention in a writer who deals “with impure or dangerous material” of the imagination, argues not for a total denial of risqué matter, but for an author’s “control of his own utterances.”
[v] Del Principe (6) “The Gothic often portrays this estrangement in panicked, dystopian terms, as humans’ reluctance to come to terms with their nonhuman ancestry and the common, biological origin of all life. Indeed, the Gothic is wont to remind us that we are shaped not only by where we come from, but by what we eat, and how we interact with the environment and all forms of life. ”
[vi] Moss (129) “The Turn of the Screw is often read as a text with an unreliable narrator and the ghosts within the story as a result of the governess’s instability as depicted through her manuscript.”
[vii] Olson (121)
[viii] Emandi (82)
[ix] Anolik (2007,86)
[x] Bray (13)
[xi] Pikula (284)
[xiii] Pikula (283)
[xiv] Tchaprazov (525) “Dracula’s mobility, then, is almost exclusively limited to the dark hours of the day, between sunset and sunrise. What is more, he “can only pass running water at the slack or the flood of the tide”; “garlic,” “a branch of wild rose,” and “things sacred,” such as crucifixes, can make him lose his powers. ”
[xv] Cooper (21)
[xvii] Timmerman (227)
[xviii] Givens (3)
[xix] Khader (75)
[xx] Stoker (5)