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Literary Gothic

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Introduction

Literary Gothic is a type of imitation of the medieval. When it was launched in the eighteenth century, gothic horror featured accounts of terrifying experiences in ancient castles, experiences connected with dungeons, secret passageways, flickering lamps, screams, moans, bloody hands, ghosts, graveyards, and loads of other things. Eventually it came to describe the macabre, mysterious, fantastic, supernatural, and, again, the terrifying, in literature more generally. Nowadays we tend to see gothic horror in the films, television, and literature. When Gothic horror made its appearance in literature, Henry Walpole was the man behind the very first book involving gothic horror, publishing The Castle of Otranto (1764), a short novel in which the basic outline is a haunted castle, a villain, mysterious deaths, supernatural happenings, a moaning portrait, a woman in distress, and "violent emotions of terror, anguish, and love". The work was tremendously popular, and imitations followed in such numbers that the Gothic novel (or romance) was probably the commonest type of fiction in England for the next half century. In this period, the best-selling author of the genre (Ann Radcliffe), the author of its most enduring novel (Mary Shelley), and the author of its most effective sendup (Jane Austen) were all women. In my opinion I think that since that day when The Castle of Otranto was released every film and book owe what they make to that author, Henry Walpole. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818), which has two Gothic villains (r Frankenstein and his Creature), was inspired, as Shelley explains by reading loads of German ghost stories with her husband and Byron during bad weather on the shores of Lake Geneva. ...read more.

Middle

The piece of text we have been given is a section where Jonathon Harker has been locked in his chamber by the count. He decides to have a sleep for a couple of hours but things don't go as he planned. The basic outline is that he has a dream (which may not have been just a dream) of three beautiful women who enter the room and talk of who will "kiss" him first. Jonathon is simultaneously full of fear and lust, and does not move but continues to watch the women through half-closed eyes. One of the women leans in and begins to bite at his neck, when the Count appears suddenly and forces the women back. Outraged, the Count tells the women that Harker belongs to him. He promises them that once he is through with Jonathon, the women can have him, and then he gives them a small bag that moves as if a child is inside of it. Horrified, Jonathon loses consciousness. The scene with the three women is one of the novel's most famous moments. By making there be three women instead of just one, Stoker creates a similarity with established myths and old wives tales. The image of the three evil women reflects on the three witches in Macbeth, as well as to the three witch sisters in the Greek myth of Perseus. Harker, a modern English businessman, is encountering an evil that is ancient and in pure. We are mixed up in a world of stories and fiction. The scene also shows the vampire's power as one that is extremely sensual and sexual. ...read more.

Conclusion

We are a balance between good and evil. Most of the time we manage to control this balance from tipping on to the evil, however, when there is something to "tilt the scales" the evil side comes out. This dark side is different for every person including our friend the narrator. What may push someone "over the edge" will not necessarily have the same effect on another person. In this case, it is the "evil eye" of the old man that makes the narrator's go physco. It is this fear which brings out the worst side in people, and eventually leads our narrator to murder. The narrator plans, executes and conceals the crime, however, what he/she hides in side himself he/she cannot control and of course he/she lets slip. The narrator tells us of a disease that has heightened his/her senses" "Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heavens and in the earth. I heard many things in hell." The narrator repeatedly insists that he/she is not mad, however we soon realise that the fear of the vulture eye has made him/her mad, and has now become a victim to the evil side. Also in this quote he/she mentions "many things in hell". This could also be associated with the gothic theme. Hell is do with evil, death and destruction. A place were Satan rules and everyone that has committed sin must go. This place is full of flames and chaos. This manic macabre can be found in lots of literature today and as I have shown (especially in Dracula) way back when gothic horror first began. ...read more.

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