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Gothic Literature

Gothic Literature

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Gothic Literature

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  1. Gothic Literature • Can be traced back to 1764. • Combined the central love story and emphasis on pleasure of the Romance novel with horror. • Some Motifs: • Mystery • Ancestral curses • Hidden passages • Heroines who constantly faint • Often presented as history

  2. History • The Castle of Otranto (1764) – Horace Walpole • Convoluted love story with supernatural elements but presented in a realistic manner • Mysteries of Udolpho(1794) – Ann Radcliffe • “Explained Supernatural”- all seemingly supernatural events found to have logical causes • Made the Gothic Novel somewhat more respectable, although still considered “sensationalistic women’s entertainment.”

  3. The Monk (1796) – Mathew Gregory Lewis • Added church figures (monks, nuns, inquisitors) to the list of melodramatic grotesque Gothic characters

  4. National Variations • Literary movements containing these elements started simultaneously in Russia, Germany, England, and France. • Often given other labels such as “Romantic,” or “Fantastique.”

  5. The Romantics • Their reaction to the rationalization of the enlightenment by focusing on strong emotion and aesthetic experience now also included darker sensations like horror, dread, longing, remorse

  6. Lord Byron provided the model for the "Byronic Hero" - much like our modern "Anti-hero" • Arrogant, moody, mysterious, dismissive of rank or privilage, cynical, rebellious, seductive, cunning and adaptable, intelligent, with a troubled past.

  7. Byron was also the host of the celebrated ghost-story competition involving himself, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, and John William Polidorion the banks of Lake Geneva in the summer of 1816. • Resulted in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) and Polidori'sThe Vampyre (1819).

  8. Victorian-Age Gothic • Dismissed by critics but most creative phase • "Penny Dreadfuls" - much like horror comics, weekly serials full of violence  • Edgar Allen Poe • Didn't focus as much on the trappings of Gothic, but on the psychology. Readers followed his characters' descents into madness • Charlotte and Emily Bronte  • Credited with "Female Gothic" adding the dread of women trapped in patriarchal systems • Charles Dickens • Added gloomy feel and melodrama to more mainstream work

  9. The turn of the century saw some of the most famous works of the genre, dealing with ethical and social degeneration •      * Stevensons' Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde •     * James' The Portrait of Dorian Gray •      * Stoker's Dracula

  10. 20th Century Gothic • Pulps - modern American penny dreadful • Authors such as HP Lovecraft bridged the gap between Gothic and Modern Horror. Modern authors such as Stephen King, Anne Rice, and yes, even Stephanie Meyers, are heavily influenced by Gothic literature.

  11. Archetypes • Virginal Maiden - young, beautiful, pure, innocent and kind. Faints and cries a lot • Hero - brave and noble • Tyrant - Arrogant, powerful, terrible when angered • Stupid Servant - often comic relief, although can be frightening as well • Bandits/Ruffians

  12. Clergy - usually weak or corrupt • Setting - a character unto itself. Usually set in a castle, abbey, Monastery, or some other large, ancient building. The building itself was obviously once thriving and active but is  now falling into ruin and is full of old secrets. The scenery both inside and out is gloomy and dark. This setting is used to inspire awe and dread, and harken back to the Dark Ages.