Romanticism • The predominance of imagination over reason and formal rules • Primitivism • Belief that primitive cultures are superior to modern cultures • Love of nature • An interest in the past • Mysticism • Belief in a reality passing normal human understanding • Individualism • Idealization of rural life • Enthusiasm for the wild, irregular, or grotesque in nature
Romanticism • Enthusiasm for the uncivilized or “natural” • Interest in human rights • Sentimentality • Melancholy • Interest in the gothic
Gothic vs. Romanticism • Romanticism developed as a reaction against the rationalism of the Age of Reason (17th and 18 centuries). • The romantics freed the imagination from the hold of reason, so they could follow their imagination wherever it might lead. • For some Romantics, when they looked at the individual, they saw hope. • Romantic writers celebrated the beauties of nature. • For some Romantic writers, the imagination led to the threshold of the unknown—the shadowy region where the fantastic, the demonic and the insane reside. • When the Gothic's saw the individual, they saw the potential of evil. • Gothic writers were peering into the darkness at the supernatural.
Gothic Literature • Began in the mid to late 18th century in Britain • devoted primarily to stories of horror, the fantastic, and the "darker" supernatural forces. • The short stories we will read during this unit all belong to the American gothic genre. Of which Frankenstein is NOT but it is the most famous example. • The most famous AMERICAN Gothic writer is Edgar Alan Poe
named for Gothic medieval cathedrals which often feature savage or grotesque ornaments • the cathedrals are covered with a profusion of wild carvings depicting humanity in conflict with supernatural forces—demons, angels, gargoyles, and monsters. • “Gothic" derives from "Goth," the name of one of the barbaric Germanic tribes that invaded the Roman Empire
Gothic architecture evokes the sense of humanity’s division between a finite, physical identity and the often terrifying and bizarre forces of the infinite. The Gothic aesthetic suggests an ambition to transcend earthly human limitations and reach the divine.
American Gothic • Mid 19th century • Edgar Allan Poe • Nathaniel Hawthorne • Washington Irving
Supernatural/Gothic Literary Motifs A motif is a repeated theme, image, or literary device. Look for these common motifs as we read the pieces in this unit.
American Gothic Motifs • Motif-recurring theme, image, symbol, or other literary device • Common gothic motifs: • Irrational vs. the rational • Guilt • Signs/Omens • And many more, but these are the ones we’ll be looking at this six weeks.
Signs/Omens: Reveal the intervention of cosmic forces and often represent psychological or spiritual conflict (e.g., flashes of lightning and violent storms might parallel some turmoil within a character’s mind).
Rational vs. Irrational • The main character is often torn between a rational, scientific world, and a supernatural world that cannot be explained. The character may become consumed and driven insane by attempting to explain this irrational world.
Guilt • Often, a main character’s guilt, real or self-created, overwhelms the character causing death or insanity.