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Architecture. Gothic novels were given a genre of their own primarily
because of their emotional extremes and their dark themes.
The gothic novel is a literary genre which is said to have been
created in 1764 when Horace Walpole wrote his novel ‘The Castle of
Otranto’. The main features of gothic novels included terror, mystery,
the supernatural, doom, death, curses and madness.
The term ‘gothic’ was originally used to describe both type of Art and
Architecture. Gothic novels were given a genre of their own primarily
because of their emotional extremes and their dark themes and because
it’s most natural settings were things like castles and monasteries
which were part of the typical gothic architecture. Some of the first
gothic novels included ‘The Castle of Otranto’ and ‘Byronic Hero’.
By about 1840, the gothic genre had played itself out and this was
partly due to writers who were developing the genre into the horror
fiction that it later morphed into. The gothic genre did, however,
have a long lasting effect and it led to a Victorian craze for ghost
stories and it also had an influence on Charles Dickens who read
gothic novels when he was younger and he later put the gothic
melodrama and gloomy atmosphere into his own books.
By the 1880’s, the gothic novel was revived and many authors of the
time such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Machen and Oscar Wilde all
wrote gothic works. Also, it was about this time that the most famous
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Elements of the gothic novel:
1. Setting in a castle.
2. An atmosphere of mystery and suspense.
3. An ancient prophecy
4. Omens, portents, visions.
5. Supernatural or otherwise inexplicable events.
6. High, even overwrought emotion.
7. Women in distress and sometimes threatened by a powerful,
impulsive, tyrannical male.
8. The metonymy of gloom and horror.