Tragic wanderers, ominous atmosphere, symbolism, and themes: these are elements of a Gothic novel. Though Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, written in the early 19th century, certainly contains many components of a Gothic novel, can it be correctly grouped under that genre? A definition of a Gothic novel; according to Tracy, is a description of a fallen world. We experience this fallen world though the aspects of a novel: plot, setting, characterization, and theme (De Vore, Domenic, Kwan and Reidy). As well, early Gothic novels have characterized themselves through the use of moral commitment and exotic atmosphere in their themes (Lowry 32).
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, a new literary genre sprung up, the Gothic story. In the United States, the most prominent exponent of Gothic fiction was Edgar Allen Poe, whose “horror” tales conjure up the dark side that many of us at least half-believe is hidden just beneath the surface of the most conventional lives. In this paper we will discuss the Gothic in light of two of Poe’s stories, “Ligeia”, and “The Fall of the House of Usher,” and contrast Poe’s story with a somewhat dark tale of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, “The Minister’s Black Veil.” We will also analyze why Poe’s stories are Gothic’s and Hawthorne’s is not. Critic Mark Edmunson calls Gothic literature “the art of haunting”, adding that “Gothic shows that life, even at it’s most ostensibly innocent, is possessed, that the present is in thrall to the past. All are guilty; all will, in time, pay the price.
The Development of the Gothic Genre in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Up until 1800, literature in general consisted of a spontaneous expression of idyllic images of love - ultimately categorised as "The Romantic Movement." From this sprouted Romanticism's antithesis - literary Gothicism. When it was first introduced in the late 18th century, Gothic literature featured accounts of terrifying experiences set in graveyards or ancient castles, and descriptive motifs such as flickering lamps and ghostly figures. These have now become images of stereotypical horror. As it developed, Gothic literature came to designate everything to do with the macabre, mysterious and supernatural in literature more generally.
Although Edgar Allan Poe, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Frederick Douglass, all used gothic devices in their work, the question arises whether Poe's gothic techniques represented his fantasy, or did they represent his reality like they do with Stowe and Douglass. Poe's use of gothic device leads the readers into a downward fall of an insane world representing fantasy. Stowe and Douglass, on the other hand, used gothic details to reflect the reality of the lives of slaves as they struggle to climb upwards out of the descending fall of their lives. Edgar Allan Poe is primarily known for his mastery of the gothic genre. He constantly explored subjects such as self-destruction, madness, imagination, and earned a reputation for his fascination with death, especially the death of women (Scharf).
Through the use of literary techniques and devices, Poe has effectively conveyed thematic concerns of Gothicism. Poe’s texts explore the inept fear of the unknown, the decay of an individual’s character and the psychotic relationship between insanity and the expression and instigation of emotions. The Gothic conventions within his work complement each other and operate in conjunction to express themes related to Gothicism, as ambient setting is achieved with the aid of the Gothic conventions of supernatural motifs and reference to darkness. By creating a pastiche of forms and conventions, Edgar Allan Poe’s works are considered sublime paradigms of Gothic fiction.
Instead of conforming to this perception, people were only led to believe the word to mean “dark and ominous”. Gothic architecture, with the foreboding atmosphere posed around it, correlates with the Gothic novel because it has been a prevalent backdrop to gothic novels in the 19th century, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. These Gothic horror stories were some of the first examples of the horror genre, and are therefore vital for the understanding this field. In its historical context, the gothic horror genre is believed to have emerged as a response to a time of rational thought, the Enlightenment or the Age of Reason. This intellectual movement a... ... middle of paper ... ...tablished in the modern horror genre, thus it is practical to observe the archetypes of the Gothic novel as well.
This mode of literature appears to have sprung out from Gothic architecture... ... middle of paper ... ...th possess conventions commonly demonstrated in gothic fiction surrounding setting, atmosphere and theme. Although there are significant differences between the two, it is the execution of collectively recognized themes of gothic literature that enhances their effects on the readers, the most important being the element of the supernatural as well as madness. In both stories, the characters are haunted by paranormal activity that begins to slowly consume them. Throughout the stories they then begin to deteriorate mentally which leads to their demise. The journey in which the reader is taken by observing the slow paced unraveling of their mental state is significantly defining in the overall effect of the gothic fictions.
Some of the main gothic writers of the time included Edgar Alan Poe, Charles Dickens, H.G.Wells, Charlotte and Emily Bronte. By the end of the19th century Mary Shelley?s famous novel of Frankenstein had been published and later on Bram Stoker?s Dracula. Of all the stories written in the gothic era, they all contain many of the typical gothic ... ... middle of paper ... ...ation and descriptive language. Also, with The Tell Tale Heart the tension and suspense has great effect, making the reader wanting to read on. The building of suspense through specific language and literary devices is so firm and efficient that ?The Tell-Tale Heart?
Gothic novels have many different characteristics: they evoke terror both physical and psychological, they have character that keep themselves isolated in time or space from contemporary l... ... middle of paper ... ... Shelley’s Frankenstein truly displays the true essence of what a Gothic novel should represent through the many different characteristics of a Gothic novel. Mary Shelley takes these few basic characteristic and transforms them into a true representation of a Gothic novel. The transformations of these basic Gothic characteristics are what allowed Mary Shelley to create her outstanding and prominent Gothic novel, Frankenstein. Works Cited “Gothic Novels.” The World Book Encyclopedia. Ed.
Frankenstein Often times an author’s background shapes their writing thus instilling a sense of curiosity in the audience. In her work, Frankenstein, Mary Shelley exposes the grotesque aspects of life as it resonates with her past. Considered a Gothic novel, and one of the first Science Fictions, Frankenstein also contains several components of the Romantic Movement. The Romantic Movement was a period in British history when people felt a deep connection to nature, science, and their emotions. Shelley uses the foundation of a Romantic novel to construct a work unlike any other of its time period.