Elements of the Gothic

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  • Created by: Lolly
  • Created on: 11-05-12 09:43

Characteristics of the Gothic

  • A fascination with the past - particularly the medeival era
  • A liking for the supernatural , the magical, eccentric - intemingled with realism
  • Psychological insights especially sexuality
  • Intricate characterisation or stereotypical caricatures
  • Representation and stimualtaion of fear , horror and the sinister
  • Focus on emotion rather than rationality
  • Exotic/alien setting and locations 
  • Plots with in plots, often muliple narrators 
  • Complex narrative structure
  • Use of overt symbolism
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Gothic Elements - Fear and Location

Fear: motivates most of the Gothic both existentially e.g. inability to escape our decaying bodies and historically e.g. are we free from the past? - ties to birth right, eugenics. Assessment of dangers creates lurid forms of fatalism or paranoia and descent into madness and insanity. Moreover fear in  the Gothic reflects our dealings with anxieties about power, class, loss, death, sex, the other, fear of exclusion, division or difference. Memory and amnesia, oppression and persecution.

Location: obsession with old buildings as sites of human decay; Gothic 'house' - crypts and cellars of repressed desire; attics and belfries of neurosis; asylums, castles, graveyards. cemeteries vs the foreboding natural world (pathetic fallacy). 'Nature is Satan's church'.

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Gothic Elements - Human Limitation and Incarcerati

Human Limitation: spiritually or subliminally; the 'out of body' ecstasies of sex and mania; projections of the divine (virgin) and the demonic (whore); the loss of self in such phenomena as the double or doppelganger; socially/morally and sexually ( as in transgressive, deviant immoral behavior and alienation; corruption and rebellion); biologically (as in grotesque fusions/metamorphosis with inorganic matter and/ or animals); and psychologically (as in madness, obsession dream, fantasy)

 Incarceration: a claustrophobic sense of enclosure and entrapment, geographically, existentially and socially. isolation and introversion. Locke doors, prisons, clandestine Victoriana, bedrooms, boudoirs, secrets and lies, confinement of repression and denial. Domestic interiors become prisons. Boarders and boundaries. Price of liberty/freedom = external vigilance. Classification, compartmentalizing of knowledge. Certainty through guardianship of Western/Christian/Masculine/Capitalist values and ideology.

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Gothic Elements - History, Class, Gender, Sexualit

History: the tyranny of the past stifles the hopes of the present; previous misdemeanors and immoral indiscretions by corrupt elders sabotages future generations, anxieties about historical reversion or cheated inheritance, preoccupation with inherited power and corruption/agencies or archaic authority. Preoccupation with religious traditions, heritage and superstitions.

Class: reverence for blue blood, academia and the establishment/royalty and titles. Vampire - fantasy model of decadent  aristocratic cruelty which we need to sacrifice again and again. Rebellion vs social conservatism/status quo. Middle classes/ Establishment under threat, re-enactment and celebration of the extinction of power and authority. Mistrust of peasantry/proletariat.

Gender, Sexuality and Desire: Romance, love, marriage, child birth, heightened emotion. Failure of modern societies to liberate women. Regulation of sexual desires, thrill of prostitution/sexual deviance. Repressed homosexuality. Misogyny.Patriarchy. Women as mystic banshees - allure of feminine spirituality. Threat of biological impulses and urges.

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Dark, cloud, overcast, sunless, dull, dim, shadowy, dismal, dreary, unlit, murky, sombre, dingy, melancholy, dispiriting, disheartening, disheartening, cheerless, pessimistic, hopeless, sorrowful, woebegone, despondent, disconsolate, miserable, dejected, downcast, glum, desolate, morose.


Bizarre, weird, outlandish, freakish, strange, odd, peculiar, unnatural, fantastic, fanciful, whimsical, ridiculous, ludicrous, absurd, incongruous, preposterous, extravagant. misshapen, distorted, deformed, twisted, malformed, misproportioned, ugly.


Otherworldly, unearthly, spectral, ghostly, phantom, magical, mystic, unreal, paranormal, psychic, miraculous, extraordinary, uncanny, queer, mysterious, eerie, spooky, astounding.

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Thank youuuu super super helpful <3


This is brill!

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