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Gothic Horror A Brief History
The birth of a genre • The Gothic Novel is a genre of literature • It combines elements of both horror and romance. • It was ‘invented’ by Horace Walpole - The Castle of Otranto (1764) • It aimed for ‘a pleasing sort of terror’ • It combined melodrama and parody, and explored: – – the joys of extreme emotion, the thrills of fearfulness and awe inherent in the sublime, a quest for “atmosphere, ” and the inevitable decay and collapse of human creations – BIG KEY FACT
Religious Conflict • English Protestants often linked old, ruined buildings with what they saw as a dark and terrifying period in history. • A period with harsh laws enforced by torture, and with mysterious, fantastic and superstitious rituals. • A period dominated by Catholicism, including Roman Catholic excesses such as the Inquisition.
Key Ingredients • Prominent features: – terror (both psychological and physical) – mystery – the supernatural – ghosts – haunted houses and Gothic architecture (e. g. castles) – darkness – death and decay – madness – secrets – hereditary curses. • Stock characters: – – – tyrants villains bandits maniacs, Byronic heroes persecuted maidens, madwomen magicians vampires and werewolves monsters and demons ghosts, the Devil himself.
Gothic Architecture • The term "Gothic" often applied to buildings • Often spelled "Gothick", to highlight their "medievalness” • Castles, mansions, and monasteries, often remote, crumbling, and ruined. • This fascination inspired the first wave of gothic novelists. • Horace Walpole, whose The Castle of Otranto (1764) is the first true gothic novel, was obsessed with gothic architecture, and built his own house in that style (as did Stephen King)
Matthew Lewis • Matthew Lewis - The Monk (1796). • Highly influential tale of depraved monks, sadistic inquisitors and spectral nuns (N. B. severe criticism of the Catholic church)
European Gothic • There were parallel Romantic literary movements, e. g. : – the roman noir ("black novel") in France, – the Schauerroman ("shudder novel") in Germany • These works were often more horrific and violent than the English gothic novel.
Byron • The poetry, romantic adventures and character of Lord Byron, described by a former lover as 'mad, bad and dangerous to know' was another inspiration for the Gothic. • Byron was also the host of the celebrated ghoststory competition involving himself, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley and John William Polidori at the Villa Diodati on the banks of Lake Geneva in the summer of 1816. • This occasion produced both Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) and Polidori's The Vampyre (1819)
American Gothic • An important and innovative re-interpreter of the Gothic in this period was Edgar Allan Poe • He believed 'that terror is…of the soul’. • His story "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1839) explores these 'terrors of the soul' whilst revisiting classic Gothic ingredients of decay, death and madness. • The legendary villainy of the Spanish Inquisition is revisited in "The Pit and the Pendulum" (1842).
Victorian Gothic • Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) • Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), • George du Maurier's Trilby (1894), • Henry James's The Turn of the Screw (1898) • Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897)
20 th Century Gothic • Many modern writers of horror borrow gothic features: – Anne Rice (e. g. Interview with the Vampire) – Stephen King – Susan Hill (e. g. The Woman in Black) – Patrick Mc. Grath (e. g. The Grotesque)
Gothic Media • The themes of the Gothic novel were transferred into: – Theater – Film (e. g. 1930 s Universal Horror films, “Frankenstein”, “Dracula, ” “Bride of Frankenstein” etc. ) – Music (e. g. Black Sabbath, Metallica, King Diamond etc. )
Some questions: 1. 2. 3. What was considered the first ever Gothic novel? What religion was Gothic horror often criticising? Name TWO each of the key FEATURES and CHARACTERS in Gothic Horror. 4. Which 1796 book, by Matthew Lewis, heavily influenced all Gothic Horror to follow? 5. What was the Gothic Novel called in a) France; and b) Germany? 6. What important event happened near Lake Geneva in 1816? 7. Name one example of Victorian Gothic Horror. 8. Name one 20 th Century Gothic Horror writer. 9. Name one group of Gothic Horror films. 10. Name one band heavily influenced by the Gothic movement.