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The Gothic Imagination - Essay Example

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Gothic imagination has an incredible generative power which catches the attention of numerous readers. …
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The Gothic Imagination
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Download file to see previous pages Gothic literature was named for the apparent influence of the dark gothic architecture of the period on the genre. Also, many of these Gothic tales took places in such "gothic" surroundings, sometimes a dark and stormy castle as shown in Mary Wollstoncraft Shelly's Frankenstein, or Bram Stoker's infamous Dracula" (Gothic).

The American critical theorist Eve Sedgwick has been a chief contributor to the idea of Gothic imagination. To understand the term "Gothic" let us note that there is a great relation between Gothic and romance. As Sedgwick, in The Coherence of Gothic Conventions which studies the relationship between Gothic conventions and the ways in which its practitioners use language and structure narrative, remarks, "Gothic" has not been the supplest of terms. (Sedgwick 1986) An analysis of the popular novels, The Castle of Otranto, Frankenstein, and Dracula would give the best idea of what a Gothic Novel is. This is a discussion directed towards the same.

The writers beginning with Horace Walpole in his The Castle of Otranto through the famous writers like Mrs. Radcliffe, M G Lewis, Mary Shelley, Maturin, Melville, Faulkner, and Stoker have dealt with the elements of what is now termed the Gothic literature. Their works take the readers to world of sublimity and great imagination.
“Their Gothic novels attempt to submerge the reader in an extraordinary world in which ordinary standards and moral judgments become meaningless and good and evil are seen as inextricably intertwined. Gothic writing is closely related to romantic: both are the product of a profound reaction against everyday reality and conventional religious explanations of existence. But while romantic writing is the product of faith in an ultimate order, Gothic writing is a gloomy exploration of the limitations of man" (Hume 1969). Thus many of the Gothic considerations come to our discussion. The genre of Gothic fiction merges the elements of both romance and horror. This literary tradition has its beginning with Horace Walpole's novel The Castle of Otranto which came out in the year 1764. As the introductory essay of Three Gothic Novels remarks, "a reader familiar with the Gothic novels of the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century will easily recognize in them themes and proceedings which were stock-in-trade of the tales of terror" (Fairclough et al 1968. p. 7).
The finding out of the beauty in elements of terror itself changed the concept of the literary appreciation. The discovery of Horror as the source of delight reacted on men's actual conception of beauty itself: the Horrid, from being the category of the Beautiful, became eventually one of its essential elements, and the 'beautiful horrid' passed by insensible degrees into the 'horribly beautiful" (Fairclough et al 1968. p. 10). The examples of the novels show that the gothic genre is especially noted for its appeal of terror and mystery and it cannot be smothered. "The Gothic novel is defined not by its stock devices-ruined abbeys and the like-but by its use of a particular atmosphere for essentially psychological purposes" (Hume 1969).
The Gothic novels of the writers like Walpole, M G Lewis, Mary Shelley, Melville, Faulkner and others submerge the readers in a world where ordinary standards and ethical conclusions are ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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