What Makes A Gothic Novel

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What Makes A Gothic Novel

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Features of Gothic Literature

Count Dracula needs almost no introduction: his name is already synonymous with unquenchable bloodthirstiness. The count lives in the faraway land of Transylvania in a castle that is a puzzle-box of mysteries, surrounded by an aura of unease. English solicitor Jonathan Harker arrives to help Dracula with legal proceedings This tale of science and superstition is an essential book to read before you die — or become undead. How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, no dreads; to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams.

Are the ghosts in the house real? Or are all those scratching sounds and screaming voices coming from inside your head? In this story, a young governess works in an English country house caring for Miles and Flora, the orphaned nephew and niece of her employer. Soon, she begins to notice unfamiliar figures roaming the grounds. As she starts to learn more about those who were employed at the home before her, she becomes increasingly convinced that the place is haunted — and that the children are concealing their own knowledge of the ghosts. Critics continue to be split over its interpretation: ghosts actually present, or the governess is merely unraveling?

The more I go over it, the more I see in it, and the more I see in it, the more I fear. This novel begins with the marriage of the unnamed American narrator to a wealthy English widower, and she is soon swept away to his beautiful mansion of Manderley on the Cornish coast. Yet because this is a Gothic romance and not a fairytale, married life for the new Mrs. The narrator battles the sinister housekeeper Mrs.

A thrilling tale of jealousy and rage, Rebecca is also a gripping story of its heroine discovering her inner strength — asserting her power within her marriage, within her household, and within the minds of readers. My old fears, my diffidence, my shyness, my hopeless sense of inferiority, must be conquered now and thrust aside. If I failed now I should fail forever. It gathers together four strangers connected only by their tenuous ties to the house: Dr. John Montague, an investigator of the occult and paranormal; Luke Sanderson, the brash young heir to Hill House; Theodora, a free-spirited artist with psychic abilities; and Eleanor Vance, a timid young woman haunted by a poltergeist encounter from her youth.

Montague has selected them as participants in his latest research study: he hopes to find scientific evidence of the paranormal as they take up residence in the house for the summer. The scenes of actual ghostly activity are relatively few and only vaguely described — yet Jackson creates more terror through what she withholds, establishing an atmosphere of dread that leaves the reader in constant fear. It becomes clear that the true horrors lie not within the stately Hill House, but within the deepest abysses of the mind, as Eleanor is seized by a possessive power that threatens to destroy her entirely. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

The Gothic arose from the premise of unearthing the secrets of antiquity and unleashing their terrors in the modern age. The Bloody Chamber features numerous stories of dangerous sexuality and paranormal romance , but it gives a feminist spin on what were traditionally morality tales warning women against unrestrained lust. The wolfsong is the sound of the rending you will suffer, in itself a murdering. Check out our guide to Southern Gothic for even more dark must-reads to keep you up at night! You'll never run out of something to read when you bookmark these 21 best places to find free books online. Gothic fiction often features something or someone supernatural. Make one of your characters a ghost, vampire, werewolf, or some other supernatural creature.

Or, you could use your setting to create an eerie atmosphere that suggests something paranormal is at work. A spooky castle or house can add a supernatural element to your story. Add children to your story. Children often feature into gothic fiction and they are usually in danger or in the care of less than capable guardians. Having children in your story who are in some sort of danger will infuse your story with extra tension throughout.

Add a prophecy or curse. Add intrigue to your story by including a prophecy that has something to do with the character or the setting house, castle, etc. Prophecies in gothic fiction are usually incomplete and confusing. A good prophecy should cause your readers to scratch their heads and want to know more. A curse can also help drive your hero's actions and even explain some of his or her behavior. The prophecy says that the castle will pass from Manfred's line. The prophecy seems to have come true when Manfred's son dies. Add a damsel in distress. Gothic fiction stories often include a young woman who is in danger. This young woman may be your central character or your central character's love interest. You can use this character as a way to influence the emotions of your readers, such as their pity, sadness, and fear.

Depict your damsel's reactions to her situation by telling your readers how she feels, acts, and what she says. Consider using a found material or true story framing device. Many gothic novels put forth the story that they tell as true or found in a diary. This way of framing the story adds mystery, since it invites the reader to imagine that the events of the story transpired. For example, Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker both use found material framing devices. They present their stories through character letters and journal entries. Part 3. Introduce your story. At the beginning of your story, take care to describe your setting and characters who are present at the beginning of your story. Just make sure that you don't give away too much information in the beginning.

Leave some things to describe later, like the villain and other mysterious elements of your story. You can hint at these things early in your story, but don't give in to the urge to share too much too soon. Maintain an air of gloom and terror throughout your story. You can make sure that your story has a high level of creepiness by incorporating plenty of unnerving details. Describe the moon, the howling wind, or a dark corridor to maintain an air of gloom and terror throughout your story.

You can also describe the way that your characters are feeling or acting, as well as their facial expressions. Maintain suspense and mystery throughout your story. Tantalize your readers by only offering them quick glimpses of your villain or a ghost. Hint at the family curse but hold off on explaining it until later in the story. Incorporate descriptions of heightened emotions throughout your story. Describe over-the-top emotions like shrieking, cackling, fainting, and sobbing. These moments of hysteria will pull your readers into the story and help keep them entertained. Incorporate themes of madness. Describe spooky things from the perspective of a character who has gone mad.

This approach will intrigue your readers and lead them to question what is happening. Kill off some of your characters. As much as you might love your characters, good gothic fiction tales usually feature the death of one or more of the main characters. The deaths of your characters do not need to be ultra-gory although, they can be , but they should be frightening. Use plenty of details to describe the scenery and action of your death scenes. Conrad was on his way to get married.

Conclude with a twist. Good gothic fiction stories often end with a twist that causes readers to wonder about the events and characters of your story. The reappearance of a someone who has died is one way to include a twist, but you can experiment with other types of twists as well. Roderick had believed that Madeline was dead. Did you know you can get expert answers for this article? Unlock expert answers by supporting wikiHow. Christopher Taylor, PhD. Support wikiHow by unlocking this expert answer. Not Helpful 4 Helpful Not Helpful 6 Helpful Not Helpful 7 Helpful Use short sentences to create tension, and choose the most descriptive words you can to describe the action.

Instead of saying "yelled," for example, choose "shrieked" or "hollered. Not Helpful 20 Helpful Perhaps you could give him the ability to appear in one place, then suddenly appear in another place teleportation. The Mysteries of Udolpho , set in a European castle, is one of her most famous works. On the surface, Northanger Abbey appears to be a Gothic novel—but it's actually an affectionate and deliberate parody of the novels that were extremely popular at the time of publication. Austen, ever attuned to social comedy, is also parodying the reader.

Henry James's classic work of psychological horror has inspired many adaptations, including, most recently, Netflix's The Haunting of Bly Manor. The novella follows a governess who accepts a position in a crumbling old house, where she hears ghosts. Reading The Turn of the Screw is a deliberately destabilizing experience—you never quite know who is telling the truth, because the characters don't, either. Just uttering Edgar Allan Poe's name conjures up the mood of his best-known short stories, novels, and poems: An undeniable sense of dread. The Fall of the House of Usher is the story of a family's decline due to an ancestral curse. Jane Eyre is the story of a quiet but strong-willed young woman who takes a job at a spooky and isolated English manor, where she develops a relationship with its owner.

Rochester has secrets that literally can't stay hidden, and Jane soon learns them. Brooding, dark, and ultimately unknowable, Heathcliffe of Wuthering Heights is one of the Gothic tradition's quintessential leading men. That's just the start of Wuthering Heights ' many Gothic motifs, which also include remote landscapes and storms in the sky and the spirit. Just try keeping track of the many plot twists in The Woman in White —we dare you. Wilkie Collins's novel begins when a young man encounters a hapless woman dressed in white on the road, supposedly an escapee from the asylum.

The novel reads as Gothic thanks to its suspenseful mood, but the mystery wraps up all of its loose strings. Reyes says of Mary Shelley's classic book. The characters are striking in their isolation: Frankenstein's monster is condemned to wander alone, and Frankenstein, having banished his progeny, also lost those he loves. Dorian Gray has a secret. Though he looks perpetually young and beautiful, a portrait of Dorian in his attic becomes pock-marked with all of his many sins over the years. Although it's not expressly scary, it's teeming with dread and decadence. Rebecca is the quintessential Gothic romance, in that it uses a deep emotional connection to our narrator into the dark, dangerous world of Manderley, her new husband's home.

Daphne Du Maurier describes Manderley with exquisite language. That's certainly true of Manderley, Maxim's ancestral home. A bestseller upon its publication in , Dragonwyck is a classic Gothic romance: A guileless young woman falls for a mysterious nobleman who has baggage in the form of a mansion. While Dragonwyck features familiar elements, Anya Seton's intelligent handling of them makes Miranda's journey feel fresh. It's a natural follow-up to Rebecca. In this acclaimed and daring collection of short stories, Angela Carter amplifies the dark elements already present in classic fairy tales, like "Beauty and the Beast," and turns them into works of Gothic feminism.

The collection is teeming with Gothic imagery: Castles, moonlight, and dangerous but alluring characters. There's something amiss in We Have Always Lived in the Castle , Shirley Jackson's final novel—but we can't rely on our narrator, Merricat, to tell us what. She and her sister live in a historic mansion a classic Gothic trope , haunted not by ghosts but by memories. Toni Morrison's Beloved is a crucial addition to the American Gothic tradition. Reyes says. If the Gothic is, fundamentally, about being haunted, then Beloved is Morrison's most Gothic work in which Sethe meets a grown-up incarnation of Beloved, the infant she killed to spare her from experiencing the horrors of slavery.

With Mexican Gothic , Silvia Moreno-Garcia is in conversation with many Gothic motifs, like atmospheric dread and haunted ancestral mansions. The twist? She transposes a genre normally grounded in the English countryside into Mexico in the s, where a girl sets off to rescue her cousin from the family she's married into. The Little Stranger tracks what happens after a country doctor becomes intimately involved in the lives of the few surviving members of an old aristocratic family in a crumbling house in post-war Britain. Reyes calls it a quintessential Gothic novel: "It's set in an old mansion, the end of that aristocratic line.

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