'Pride comes before a fall' Gothic essay [FULL MARKS] : Macbeth, Frankenstein and Lady of the House of Love

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My response to the essay question 'Pride comes before a fall. To what extent is this true of Gothic protagonist?' Written on Macbeth, Frankenstein and The Lady of the House of Love

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  • Created on: 12-09-13 18:48
Preview of 'Pride comes before a fall' Gothic essay [FULL MARKS] : Macbeth, Frankenstein and Lady of the House of Love

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`Pride comes before a fall.' To what extent is this true of Gothic protagonists?
Gothic literature often features an intense focus on the moral deterioration of a main protagonist,
depicting their typical fall from a proud outset to a darker, more damaged character by the ending.
This typical narrative structure can be clearly seen within `Macbeth'. At the start of the play, Macbeth
is described as `brave', `noble', a `worthy gentleman' and `valiant cousin', and thus his proud
beginnings and commendable reputation are explicitly implied. However, as the play continues, the
audience becomes increasingly aware of Macbeth's `vaulting ambition', a character flaw which leads
him to his fall as it leads him to murder Duncan. This fall from grace is not only highlighted through the
change in his reputation and social status, as he soon becomes known as `black Macbeth' and a
`Hell-hound', but his murder of Duncan can also be seen as a disruption of the divine right of Kings:
`his angels will plead, trumpet-tongued, against the deep damnation of his taking off.' Thus, there is
also a similar `fall' in Macbeth's disruption of the natural religious order, playing on the contextual
fears of a Jacobean audience. This realistic fear is a common element of the modern Gothic genre, as
well as the following shame Macbeth experiences, which sets up a clear opposition of pride and
shame between the beginning and the end of the play. This swing from one extreme of excessive
reputation and pride to another extreme of shame and guilt can also be interpreted with a modern
Gothic reading, as it highlights the frightening but realistic capability of man and so may incite great
terror into the audience. The intense mental deterioration that occurs is exemplified in Nunn's
production of the play as the darkness and illuminated face highlights his psychological isolation.
Similarly, pride can also be seen as a catalyst for Victor's `fall' in Shelley's `Frankenstein.' Victor seeks
power and recognition, and displays an escalating sense of pride and narcissistic desire as the novel
progresses, and Shelley begins to reveal his aspiration to be viewed as a god: `A new species would
bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me.'
It is this intense and extreme desire that both grants the novel with a Gothic theme due to the
unpredictable nature of the protagonist, and also leads to Victor's creation of the grotesque and
infamous monster: `his yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath.' The
creature takes on the role of the abhuman, and so begins to be seen as the `other', creating an
opposition between his isolation and the company of society. Victor, however, is depicted as
similarly isolated when he states, `I believed myself totally unfitted for the company of strangers',
and so Shelley evokes the idea of a Gothic double, leading the reader to question who is really the
monster ­ Victor, or the creature?
Following the creation process, Victor is seen to deteriorate into `misery', stating `...my candle was
nearly burnt out.' The `candle', a metaphor for hope and sanity, is thus used to imply Victor's descent
or `fall' into deep despair. He talks of a `deadly weight yet hanging around by neck', which clearly
references Coleridge's `The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' from which Shelley took inspiration, with
the line; `Instead of the cross, the albatross/ About my neck was hung.' Through linking to a poem
focused around the disruption of God's creation and the consequences of such betrayal, Shelley
exemplifies Victor's own religious betrayal and `fall' from morality. This irony can arguably be read as
a statement from the author about the distaste of science during the Age of Reason, highlighting her
as being in favour of religious faith. Furthermore, the phrase `deadly weight yet hanging around my
neck' also connotes a noose, grounding the story into the Gothic genre with its morbid and bleak
undertones.

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However, there is also argument that Gothic literature does not always follow this pattern of a fall
from pride, and that there are instead alternative narrative structures as depicted in Angela Carter's
`Lady of the House of Love.' At the outset of the story, the Countess is described as a `beautiful
somnambulist', but instead of displaying similar excessive pride in her appearance, her beauty is
instead considered `an abnormality, a deformity' which causes her `perennial sadness.…read more

Comments

Anisa -Team GR

Amazing !

really helped me alot 

Dla2lag

An exemplar essay that will help you address the key elements of this topic within the Gothic genre; could annotate referring to the individual assessment objectives to identify how they have all been included in the essay.

Neema

Excellent work.

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