Victorian Gothic Literature: Scientific vs. Medieval Thinking Essay

Victorian Gothic Literature: Scientific vs. Medieval Thinking Essay

Length: 1750 words (5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Victorian Gothic Literature: Scientific vs. Medieval Thinking

     Creatures of the night have always held a fascination and horror for people in all cultures. The English fascination with sensational and gothic literature came to a peak, after slacking slightly following the Romantic period, in the late Victorian period with such works as Dracula, The Strange Adventures of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and The Picture of Dorian Gray. The literate populace avidly devoured this type of literature. While most publishers merely churned out serial horror stories en masse, such as Varney the Vampyre, many serious writers used this genre as a means to force their audience to think about their beliefs. Serious Victorian Gothic literature plays on the fears and emotions of the era, an era that was especially fearful since their beliefs had been ripped out from under them, largely by contrasting modern science with medieval superstition and belief.


The Victorian era was similar to our own in that it was a time when people weren't really sure what was true or what they believed. As this prayer, believed to have come from the Victorians shows, " 'O God - if there is a God - save my soul - if I have a soul' " (Houghton 22). New theories about the age of the earth had demonstrated that something was out of kilter with the bible, since the earth seemed to be older than the biblical account would show. Darwin had gone one step further and shown that man hadn't been created but evolved through natural selection. A generation was growing up in a culture that had had the rug of its beliefs pulled out from under its feet. The main difference between the Victorian sense of doubt and our post-modern doubt is, "faith in the existence of u...

... middle of paper ...

...completely destroyed by his dabbling in alchemic science.


Much of Victorian Gothic literature plays to the Victorian doubt in what they believe, especially as concerns science and what is largely assumed to be medieval superstition. By playing on these fears, authors are able to create stories that are horrifying on several levels. First of all, the action that goes on in the book is enough to make the readers skin crawl. However, the authors go farther and use their audiences natural fears and doubts to create a story that is sensational on all levels.


Works Cited

Davenport-Hines, Richard. Gothic: Four Hundred years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin. North Point Press: New York, 1998.

Houghton, Walter E. The Victorian Frame of Mind. Yale University Press: New Haven, Conn, 1957.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Penguin Group: New York, 1992.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

A Sense of Gothic Expressed in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Essay

- A Sense of Gothic Expressed in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein The term ‘Gothic’ has many forms. Its origins go back to the medieval period and can be seen in architecture such as Westminster Abbey in London and the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. It can also be applied to art in the works of Hieronymus Bosch who’s grotesque and haunting imagery depicted ugly distorted humans who are morally degenerate and depraved, and to William Blake who visualised Dante’s Divine Comedy. In literature, the Gothic novel is credited as starting with Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto, (1764) which characterised most of what would become the essential ingredients in the Gothic genre....   [tags: Frankenstein Gothic Literature Essays]

Powerful Essays
942 words (2.7 pages)

Medieval Ages : The Medieval Period Essay

- The Medieval Period The Middle Ages, also known as the Medieval Period, was a thousand-year period in European history, including the Romanesque and the Gothic artistic styles. During this period of time, there were many major events, including the fall of the Roman Empire. Medieval European culture emphasized strong Christian faith, emphasizing afterlife and a movement away from classical forms of expression (MindEdge, 3.12). The Romanesque art dominated Europe starting in the 10th century and ending in the 12th century when it began to be replaced by Gothic art....   [tags: Middle Ages, Renaissance, Italy]

Powerful Essays
859 words (2.5 pages)

Frankenstein as Gothic Literature Essay

- In what ways can Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Be considered as a Gothic novel. Can Gothic literature still appeal to us today. Gothic Literature was most popular from about 1764 until 1832, a period of nearly seventy years. At this time there were many successful and famous authors who wrote books which contained a somewhat 'gothic theme'. These include the famous Brontë Sisters with the novels 'Wuthering Heights' and 'Jane Eyre', both of which can be found on many modern bookshelves of today. As well as the famous sisters, well know authors, of the time, also included Ann Radcliffe with her 'Mysteries of Udolpho' and Horace Walpole's 'The Castle of Otranto'....   [tags: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein]

Powerful Essays
3557 words (10.2 pages)

Essay on Gothic Theme in Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher

- The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe Edgar Allan Poe, renowned as the foremost master of the short-story form of writing, chiefly tales of the mysterious and macabre, has established his short stories as leading proponents of “Gothic” literature. Although the term “Gothic” originally referred only to literature set in the Gothic (or medieval) period, its meaning has since been extended to include a particular style of writing. In order for literature to be “Gothic,” it must fulfill some specific requirements....   [tags: Edgar Allen Poe]

Powerful Essays
843 words (2.4 pages)

Gothic Literature is Just Terrible Essay

- Well, I suppose we should get right to it. Gothic Literature (or more specifically, the gothic romance) was first introduced to the world in the year 1764. At that time a man by the name of Horace Walpole wrote a little "ditty" he titled The Castle of Otranto which most literary experts seem to agree is the Gothic pioneer. At the time, there were mixed reactions, to say the least. To quote one pundit: " presented, at first, a topic for argument and inflammatory rhetoric (Alfred Potter, from Gothic Horror p128 - Clive Bloom)." Despite (or maybe because of) its imperfect beginnings, however, Gothic literature came to be a venerable, albeit controversial genre with a mysteri...   [tags: Gothic Literature]

Powerful Essays
775 words (2.2 pages)

Dracula: The Picture Perfect Ideal of Gothic Literature Essay example

- Dracula: The Picture Perfect Ideal of Gothic Literature. Gothicism has been a very popular genre of book, through past and present, and Bram Stoker’s, Dracula, is no exception. One of the most widely read novels of all time, Dracula possesses all the features of a classic gothic novel. The various dark and dreary features throughout the entire novel paints a perfect gothic picture for the reader and contribute to the mixture of feelings One gets while reading Dracula. The first feature of Gothicism found in Dracula is a constant and oppressive darkness....   [tags: Gothic Literature]

Powerful Essays
1142 words (3.3 pages)

Gothic Literature: A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner Essay

- William Faulkner’s story “A Rose for Emily” is an example of gothic literature. Faulkner shows sadness for the love that is not returned and a drive that Emily uses to get what she wishes for. He has a gloomy and mysterious tone. One of the themes of the story is that people should let go of their past, move on with the present so that they can focus on welcoming their future. Emily was the evidence of a person who always lived in the shadow of her past, because she was afraid of changing for the future....   [tags: gothic literature, suspense, terror]

Powerful Essays
1259 words (3.6 pages)

Horror Versus Terror in Gothic Literature Essay

- Horror Versus Terror in Gothic Literature   Gothic literature can be described as literature that is used to terrify people by portraying situations that border between reality and unreality. The purpose of Gothic literature is to terrify people, not to horrify them. The definition of horror and terror is often misunderstood, many people think they have the same meaning. Devendra Varma, in the Gothic Flame described the difference between these words as "an awful apprehension and sickening realization." A situation that is horrifying is usually described very distinctly....   [tags: Gothic Literature]

Powerful Essays
1406 words (4 pages)

Essay about Elements of Southern Gothic Literature

- Elements of Southern Gothic Literature Literature comes in all types of styles and one type is Southern Gothic. But what makes a story develop into this type of Southern Gothic style. There are many characteristics that are apparent in literature, so what conditions are distinct that would give them the term Southern Gothic literature. What kind of elements do we call for when trying to find this type of literature. Southern Gothic is a literature that has a style all its own. It has it unique elements such as being Southern based (characters or place), then we have characters with these righteous attitudes, and then it would not be Gothic without a tragedy....   [tags: Literature Analysis]

Powerful Essays
1294 words (3.7 pages)

The Influence of Gothic Literature on Gothic Music Essay examples

- The Influence of Gothic Literature on Gothic Music      Gothic encompasses many genres of expression. Gothic artists speak out through the forms of literature, architecture, film, sculptures, paintings, and music. Many times, one genre of Gothic inspires another, creating fusing parallels between the two. In this way, each genre of Gothic rises to a more universal level, coalescing into the much broader understanding of Gothic. Gothic writers, such as Mary Shelley, influence Gothic music, as one sees in stylistic devices including diction, setting, and tone....   [tags: Literature Essays Literary]

Powerful Essays
1245 words (3.6 pages)