Some features of the Gothic as a genre


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Some features of the Gothic as a genre

  1. 1. Gothic Features
  2. 2. Write down three specific moments in which: 1. There is a cruel yet fascinating male protagonist. 2. A young woman is beset by terrors. 3. An isolated setting is used. 4. Extremity of weather seems to mirror interior landscape. 5. „Sapere Aude!‟ is an unwise move… (Kant‟s slogan in his 1784 „Was ist Aufklarung?‟) 6. Extreme psychological states feature. 7. A large building features… 8. Narration is unreliable…
  3. 3. What is Gothic about this? We had expected, upon looking back, to see a terrible and incredible moving entity if the mists were thin enough; but of that entity we had formed a clear idea. What we did see…its nearest comprehensible analogue is a vast, onrushing subway train as one sees it from a station platform - the great black front looming colossally out of infinite subterranean distance, constellated with strangely colored lights and filling the prodigious burrow as a piston fills a cylinder. But we were not on a station platform. We were on the track ahead as the nightmare, plastic column of fetid black iridescence oozed tightly onward through its fifteen-foot sinus, gathering unholy speed and driving before it a spiral, rethickening cloud of the pallid abyss vapor. It was a terrible, indescribable thing vaster than any subway train - a shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down upon us…
  4. 4. What is Gothic about this? Soon she turn‟d up a soiled glove, whereon Her silk had play‟d in purple phantasies, She kiss‟d it with a lip more chill than stone, And put it in her bosom, where it dries And freezes utterly unto the bone Those dainties made to still an infant‟s cries: Then ‟gan she work again; nor stay‟d her care, But to throw back at times her veiling hair… In anxious secrecy they took it home, And then the prize was all for Isabel: She calm‟d its wild hair with a golden comb, And all around each eye‟s sepulchral cell Pointed each fringed lash; the smeared loam With tears, as chilly as a dripping well, She drench‟d away: - and still she comb‟d, and kept Sighing all day - and still she kiss‟d, and wept…
  5. 5. What is characteristic of the Gothic?
  6. 6. The Double or Doppelganger /Evil Twin • a second self or alternate identity, sometimes, but not always, a physical twin • a reciprocal or lower bestial self or a Mr. Hyde. • Gothic doppelgangers often haunt and threaten the rational psyche of the victim to whom they become attached • suggests that humans are burdened with a dual nature, a soul forever divided. • Double characters are often paired in common relationships, such as twins, siblings, husband/wife, parent/child, hero/villain, creator/creature, etc • Confusion over identities also can result
  7. 7. Faust: Forbidden Knowledge and Power • Dr. Faustus in German legend sold his soul to the devil to obtain power and knowledge forbidden to ordinary humans. • Forbidden knowledge/power is often the Gothic protagonist's goal. • The Gothic “hero” questions the universe's ambiguous nature and tries to comprehend and control those supernatural powers that mortals cannot understand, make himself into a “god”. • This ambition usually leads to the hero's “fall” or destruction; however, • individuals with the courage to defy fate and cosmic forces in an attempt to transcend the mundane to the eternal and sublime.
  8. 8. The Beast in Man • The ambitious pursuit of forbidden powers often results in transformation into a beast/monster. • Often this transformation is depicted as a degradation of the protagonist and a loss of humanity (overreaching ambition has caused the protagonist to fall to the level of a beast). • Sometimes the protagonist's beast transformation is a liberating experience that results in an enlightening unity with the natural world. Harmony results.
  9. 9. Demon Lovers/ Femme Fatales/ Vampires • The protagonist's fall is sometimes accomplished through a relationship with a “demon lover” who acts as the protagonist's double or alter-ego, leading the protagonist into experiences forbidden by societal norms. • The demon lover is frequently female, a femme fatale (fatal or deadly woman) who seduces and entices the protagonist to destruction. • In some cases, the femme fatale seems indicative of the misogyny of patriarchal cultures, in others, the masterful and destroying female seems to enact a fantasy of female empowerment.
  10. 10. Demons/Devils/Witches/Spirits/Angels • Can embody or symbolise conflicting forces within the human soul. • The hero may be tempted by evil spirits or redeemed by good spirits that symbolize the hero's own potential for evil or good.
  11. 11. Ghosts • can represent some aspect of the protagonist's experience that “will not die,” that cannot be repressed or escaped. • can represent an unacknowledged set of desires or thoughts
  12. 12. Dreams/Visions • Terrible truths are often revealed to characters through dreams or visions. • when the person sleeps, reason sleeps, and the supernatural, unreasonable world can break through. • Expressions of the dark, unconscious depths of the psyche that are repressed by reason—truths that are too terrible to be comprehended by the conscious mind.
  13. 13. Magic Talismans/ Cursed or Blessed Objects/Holy Relics • Magic talismans may represent supernatural forces or forces within the hero's personality (e.g., the crucifix wielded by vampire hunters against the vampire symbolizes the goodness and self-sacrifice of those who fight the vampire). • Cursed and blessed objects can also act as symbols of human duality. • They are often external representations of inward qualities.
  14. 14. Graveyards/ Churches/Ruins • such settings suggest human confrontation with infinite forces (death, spirits, time, etc.) • they show the powerlessness of civilisation when confronted by time.
  15. 15. Haunted Castles/Houses • Reflects the protagonist's psychological character. • Hidden chambers, subterranean vaults, twisting corridors, and secret passages can symbolize the hidden depths of the mind • Outer world is as inner world
  16. 16. Multiple Narratives /Recursive Narratives • The story is frequently told through a series of secret manuscripts or multiple tales, each revealing a deeper secret, so the narrative gradually spirals inward toward the hidden truth. • The narrator is often a first-person narrator compelled to tell the story to a fascinated or captive listener (representing the captivating power of forbidden knowledge). • By revealing to us their own souls' secrets, these narrators reveal the secrets of humankind's soul.
  17. 17. Blood • Shows the paradox of the human condition; blood can represent both life and death, or both guilt (e.g., murder) and innocence (e.g., redemptive blood). • Suggestive of the power of the female, as may be indicative of menstrual blood.
  18. 18. Madness/ Madmen/ Risk of insanity • suggests humanity's encounter with the fantastic side of existence that defies human reason. • Because mad characters are in touch with a deeper reality beyond rational comprehension, they often speak the truths that normal characters wish to deny. • Madmen acknowledge universal or psychic forces that rational men fear to acknowledge.
  19. 19. Other common themes • murder • innocence victimized by evil • Incest • sexual perversion, • reversal of values • the Wanderer • the Outcast, • dichotomies or the linking of opposites (attraction/repulsion, life/death, innocence/evil, nobility/corruption, etc) • the sublime.