Let’s take a look at what constitutes “gothic literature,” how the supernatural can play a role in some works of gothic fiction, and some of the most well-known instances of gothic writing. Gothic literature examples, which include works such as Frankenstein and Dracula, are a staple in the English curricula of many universities and high schools.
Gothic literature, which was first published in the 1700s, is characterized by themes of the supernatural, mystery, and terror. Since the beginning of its existence, the genre has developed into a number of subgenres, one of which is known as gothic romance. Both authors and readers take pleasure in the challenge of unraveling a mystery, and this is especially true when supernatural elements introduce an unexpected turn.
Gothic Era Literature Examples
Some gothic authors, such as Edgar Allan Poe and Mary Shelley, have become almost synonymous with the subgenre of gothic literature, but other gothic authors are more commonly linked with other types of literary works. There are some novels, such as Jane Eyre, that combine elements of the subgenres of romance and gothic literature with the theme of coming into one’s own.
In this article, we will investigate the characteristics that constitute gothic literature, and we will also take a look at some of the most well-known gothic novels and novellas.
What Is Meant By the Term “Gothic Literature”?
The 18th century marked the beginning of the Gothic literary genre, which originated in Europe. The term “Gothic” was first used to refer to a certain type of medieval architecture; at first, it had nothing to do with macabre themes or bloody scenes. The term “gothic” eventually came to be connected with a sense of mystique and dread because many gothic novels were written with old monasteries and castles as their settings.
Gothic literature examples are characterized by a broad aesthetic that is characterized by terror, haunting, and mystery. This aesthetic frequently permits events from the past to haunt the present.
In gothic literature, old buildings are frequently utilized as locations to evoke a sense of the past. At the same time, the authors strive to create a claustrophobic and dismal atmosphere that encourages feelings of apprehension and anxiety. The protagonists in Gothic literature can be either male or female, and they are typically quite relatable. This allows readers to identify with the main character as they face terrifying situations and attempt to get to the bottom of the story’s issue. Gothic literature is defined by a number of recurring themes and characteristics.
Gothic literature frequently embodies the same themes as gothic architecture, which can include the macabre, the mysterious, and even the criminal.
Although the term “gothic” refers to a certain style of architecture, gothic literature frequently reflects the same characteristics as gothic buildings, including ominousness, secretiveness, morbidity, and even a hint of depravity. The presence of supernatural elements is common in gothic literature. As the novel progresses, the reader may experience a sense of unease or eeriness because the author blends aspects of real-life events and supernatural fiction in such a way that it is difficult to determine what is real and what should be attributed to the supernatural.
There is a common association between gothic tales and supernatural aspects, such as witchcraft or magic. Spells and potions are frequently utilized to further the plot of gothic fiction, despite the fact that wizards and witches may not actually be present in gothic narratives. There is a possibility that the protagonists in gothic books will experience dreams or visions that foretell the future or caution them about the presence of evil persons in their life.
The settings of gothic literature examples are extremely varied. A significant number of gothic novels and novellas take place in Europe, which is home to a vast number of historic castles and mansions. Around the turn of the century, authors in the South of the United States started penning gothic tales. The events of numerous contemporary American horror stories all continue to take place in this region.
Illustrations of Some Gothic Literature
Gothic Literature Authors & Summaries
1. Frankenstein, As written by Mary Shelley
The character of Frankenstein’s monster is regarded as one of the most iconic figures to emerge from the subgenre of gothic fiction. When Mary Shelley set out to write the first science fiction novel, she did it while deftly utilizing the story of the monster to investigate topics such as ambition, life, and mankind. The inclusion of fanciful components in Shelley’s story opened the door for other authors to integrate otherworldly scientific elements in their narratives, which in turn created a new universe for readers to discover and investigate.
2. Dracula By Bram Stoker
The legend of Dracula, which has haunted the dreams of countless people over the course of several centuries, was inspired by European folktales and the life of Vlad the Impaler, a prince of Romania who lived in the 15th century. In due time, he became known by the name Dracula. The prince was notorious for his use of torture, which typically consisted of driving a wooden spike into the bodies of his victims. Stoker, much like other gothic authors, grabbed inspiration from the actual world and mixed it with fantastical elements in order to strike fear into the hearts of his readers with his writing.
3. The Castle at Otranto (Otranto Castello) From the pen of Horace Walpole
The publication of The Castle of Otranto in 1764 is regarded by many critics of literature to be the debut of the gothic fiction genre. The broad setting that the book presents have continued to serve as the inspiration for numerous horror novels even up until this day. The novel narrates the story of a royal family that must deal with the repercussions of an old prophecy even though they are cursed. The author was motivated to write the novel after having a terrifying experience in his own home, a Gothic Revival structure located in London.
4. Jane Eyre The words of Charlotte Bronte
The novel Jane Eyre, which is classified as a gothic romance, addresses topics such as belonging, love, family, religion, and the role that a person’s life can be affected by their belief in the spiritual and the supernatural. While the plot of Jane Eyre does, in fact, dig into many of the characteristics that are traditionally associated with gothic books, the story also grapples with the fight between urgently seeking the love of someone else and learning to love oneself unconditionally. This is a coming-of-age tale.
5. Adolpho’s Secrets and Other Mysteries By Ann Radcliffe
The life of Emily St. Aubert is examined in “The Secrets of Udolpho,” which is considered to be the first Gothic romance novel. As the main character navigates her romantic life, she must also deal with the loss of both of her parents, a move across the country, and the prospect of having to spend the rest of her life in a castle that is beset by supernatural issues. Readers take pleasure in the fact that Emily is eventually able to flee her harsh life in the arms of a secret lover, in addition to the funny and horrifying perspectives on love and life that are presented in the book.
6. The destruction of the House of Usher By Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe is the name that first comes to mind when one thinks of gothic literature due to the eerie quality of his poetry and short stories. The narrator of the short story is under the impression that his friend’s house is emanating a malevolent force. Poe does an excellent job of describing the atmosphere of the house as well as the peculiar occurrences that take on inside while he is there. The narrator has a difficult time explaining both the odd ailments and the changing personalities, which provides the reader with the opportunity to switch perspectives between the real world and Poe’s magical imagination. Visit Chicago Suicide Club to enjoy over weekends.