To be a paradigm of a Gothic novel, The House of Seven Gables needs to include many elements, all which center on the ideas of gloom, horror, and mystery. The action of a Gothic novel takes place in a "run-down, abandoned or occupied, mansion or castle," which often include secret passages, doors, and compartments (Encarta). The mansion also adds its own flavor and variety to the atmosphere of mystery and suspense in the novel by providing a dark and gloomy setting where the story takes place. The basis of mystery and suspense in the atmosphere of the novel feeds off of "an unexplained or supernatural event" in the present or from past generations (Harris). The unexplained event in the novel is a result of ancient prophecy in connection with the history of the mansion, or the earlier generations, and explains the negative vicissitude in future present generations. The ancient prophecy sometimes only provides the reader with "partial or confusing" information or only provides one side of the story, thus presenting and even stronger feeling of mystery in the novel (Harris). Bad omens and visions of death also occur to foreshadow the misfortune of a character in the novel in the near future. The use of omens as foreshadowing devices also develops and presents additional suspense to the already mysterious plot. Along with omens, supernatural events also appear in a Gothic novel to add mystery and include: "ghosts, giants, or inanimate objects coming to life" (Harris). The supernatural events continue to add the atmosphere of suspense and even horror to the Gothic novel. In a Gothic novel, a "tyrannical male" usually threatens a weak female, adding an elemen...
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...n and fulfills the last criteria in presenting the House of Seven Gables as a Gothic novel.
The use of the elements of mystery, suspense, and horror in the House of Seven Gables creates the atmosphere common to a Gothic novel. The use of the supernatural and other mysterious events, in the House of Seven Gables, also compose the elements present in Gothic Literature. By presenting the elements through the setting and plot, The House of Seven Gables contains all requirements of a Gothic novel, claiming its spot in dark halls of the Gothic literature genre.
"Gothic Literature." Encarta Encyclopedia: Microsoft. 2nd Ed. 1998.
Harris, Robert. Vanguard University of Southern California Gothic Literature Page. 20 November 2000.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The House of Seven Gables. New York: Dover Publications, 1999.
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