Female Gothic - Essay Example

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It was Ellen Moers who came up with the term "female Gothic". She used it to describe the tradition of women's writing, which she traced back to Anne Radcliffe.
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Female Gothic
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Download file to see previous pages Along with other features, Radcliffe brought about the threatening figure of the gothic villain. This later turned to the Byronic hero. Many of Radcliffe's novels turned out to be bestsellers. The most successful was The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794). However, in spite of this the well educated society viewed such novels as sensationalist women's entertainment, although many men enjoyed them too.

By the time the Victorian era had started female gothic had become an increasingly complicated as well as contradictory genre. Along with symbolizing women's fear of domestic imprisonment it also managed their fantasies of escape from the physical and psychological custodies of the domestic and typically described feminity. One more change that took place in female gothic by this period was the fact that by the 1860s there were also male gothic novelists. One such example being of Wilkie Collins4. Collins appropriated several of its concerns and designs. The fiction reviewers of the 1860 didn't view the type of writing which has all together been called female gothic as just a tradition of writing by women, but they also said it was a feminized form of writing.

In the novels of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte is a lot of suggestion of gothic. All three writers were keen readers of the gothic stories that were published in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine. All three Brontes helped in refashioning gothic; even the author of Wuthering Heights, a very uncategorizable novel. They did this by taming and psychologising it. This happened in the Victorian era. In order to domesticate gothic, the Bronte sisters located their stories of female captivity, custody, or harassment (either physical or psychological) in daily, domestic surroundings and among the tolerable classes of society. In fact, much of the odd influence of their novels originates from this juxtaposition of the domestic and the fantastic, as one of their first reviewers observed:
"in spite of its truth to life in the remote corners of England - Wuthering Heights is a disagreeable story. The Bells [the Bronte pseudonym] seem to affect painful and exceptional subjects - the misdeeds or oppression of tyranny, the eccentricities of 'women's fantasy'."5
Bronte intentionally busied in rewriting gender codes and the evidence for this can be in her structural Gothicizing6. However, as our attention is limited to only a few examples of some supposed "female Gothic" and as we mainly know of only Anne Radcliffe as being the antecedent for Bronte, we do not know how her modification of gender codes also serves her professionalism7.
A usual reader of the Brontes would certainly remember so many scenes from their novels whose uncanniness is "unhomely". One such is the claustrophobic site of observation that is Madame Beck's school and the home of Lucy Snowe in Villette (1853). Here, Charlotte Bronte seems to be ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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