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The phantasmigoric nature of the Gothic genre.

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Introduction

The gothic genre has always placed a heavy emphasis on morbidness and sexuality, and sometimes both. Perhaps the most overtly sexualised gothic novel is the tale of Dracula. First published, in 1897, at the height of the sexually repressed Victorian era. The public were fascinated by this novel, as it expressed so much of their 'improper' unspoken feeling and curiosity. The imagery of sucking someone's neck to drink his or her blood is very symbolic and suggestive of blatant sexuality. This novel masked intense sexuality, but subliminally, the reader could ascertain what was occurring, using only slight inference. This titillated the prude Victorian public of the late 1800s. Stoker created a compromise where sex was extricated from its recognisable form, to the point where it was not only accomplished without genitalia, but also without guilt, and without love. Stoker had successfully projected the sexual undertones to a realm of fantasy, whereby it was deemed acceptable to a priggish Victorian public. If the novel had been set in London, and the innuendo had been in relationship to a Middle English household, it is highly probable that the book would have been met with righteous indignation, and never scaled the heights of popularity which it ultimately succeeded in doing. ...read more.

Middle

He speaks of 'only the thinnest layer of flesh....tautly stretched and strained across her bones', and then feels an 'upsurge of concern' for her. The woman in black is perhaps representative of Kipps' fledgeling adult sexuality which both fascinates and scares him. Typically, blood in the gothic has been used to convey sexuality, or more precisely sexual depravity. Charlotte Bront� repeatedly uses blood as symbolism for rampant sexuality and revolution in Jane Eyre. Bertha, the 'sexualised' vampiric woman is described in malevolent and almost machismic terms. She is described as 'a big woman, in stature almost equalling her husband...more than once she almost throttled him, athletic as he was.' This implies that aggressive female sexuality is as abnormal as a woman being as strong as a man. Jane laments Bertha's predatory instincts as she presides over the body of her murdered brother. Bertha is described as a 'carrion-seeking bird of prey', and the corporal corruption of her prey is indicative of a strident sexuality. A traditional fear for the gothic protagonist is that of emasculation. In Wuthering Heights, Lockwood is struck with 'terror and fear' as the penetrative 'ice-cold' force of femininity attempts to penetrate his bedroom, and the fact that he is in bed insinuates that it is a sexual insecurity. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is reminiscent of Kipps as he represses the 'shrill neigh' of the pony, which represents his bestial instincts, and the screaming child who represents an age of innocence which has been lost, to preserve his 'business-like lawyer' exterior, which ultimately returns to haunt him. The intrinsically fantastical nature of the gothic novel has always allowed it to be far more graphic in its exploration of the darker realms of the human psyche. The frequent allusions to sexuality and innuendo that were so commonplace in the gothic were very titilating, yet abstract enough to be tolerated in prudish societies of the past. The transition from a child to a sexualised adult is a gothic convention, and the genre has dared to be different by reversing typical gender roles, sometimes casting the female in the ascendancy. In contrast to other genres, sexual relations are often portrayed as corrupt and depraved in the gothic, with insinuations of paedophilia, fairly blatant homo-eroticism, for example in Dracula, rapaciousness and even incest. The gothic often explores the darker nature of human sexuality, and conveys the unspeakable and taboo aspects of sexual relationships, which perhaps explains its popularity in the sexually oppressive Victorian society. ...read more.

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