Characteristics of the Gothic Novel


The Gothic novel grew out of the late Romantic period’s social climate:

“a new and fearful genre for a new and fearful time.  A crumbling way of life emerges as a crumbling and haunted Gothic manor; the loss of English social identity becomes the Gothic hero or heroine’s search for identity.” (Ruotolo)

The revolutions in America and France helped developed a culture of fear present in society and represented in Gothic literature-

  • fear of imprisonment or entrapment,
  • fear of rape and personal violation,
  •  fear of evil triumphing over good and chaos over order.

The novels tend to have:

  • A writing style filled with: innovation, spontaneity, freedom of thought and expression, idealisation of nature …
  • A lot of mysterious disappearances as well as other supernatural occurrences.
  • A main protagonist that is usually a solitary, egocentric character.
  • An atmosphere created by Nature.
  • A story that evokes terror.
  • A plot that shows the dark side of human nature.

Some stuff on Frankenstein as a Gothic Novel here and here. You may want to try the Cliffs Notes – Frankenstein as a Gothic Novel.

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