During the later half of the 18th century, there was a revival of interest in the life and art of medieval times. The gothic novel arose out of this new zeal for medieval life and fashions.
The Gothic novels of the period sought to satisfy the reader’s craving for mystery and violent emotion and for stories set in remote times and places, depicting ghosts, portents, and demonic forces at work.
Themes of the Gothic Novel:
- Generally, the central theme of the Gothic novel is romantic love. A somber, restless villain is the central figure.
- The innocent, beautiful heroine probably imprisoned in a castle wants to be rescued by her lover.
- The scene is placed in a castle or the dark cloisters of a ruined Abbey equipped with frightening secret passages and private chambers.
Structure of the Gothic novel:
Supernatural events, physical violence, and mental anguish are part of the thematic structure of the Gothic novel. Wild and desolate nature provides the background. The central sentiment of the Gothic novel is melancholy. The Gothic novel was, thus, a conscious protest against the rational and realistic creed of the earlier period.
The father of Gothic novel:
Horace Walpole is called the father of the Gothic novel. His “The Castle Of Otranto” published in 1764, set the trend. He used a medieval setting for this novel. There is death murder, intrigue, and villainy in the novel. The Castle looms large as a sinister symbol until a ghost throws it down.
Ann Radcliffe continued the gothic tradition in several novels. Her best work is ‘The Mysterious Of Udolpho’ published in 1794. It shows an extravagant spectacle of Gothic elements like the somber castle of Udolpho with its sliding panels, secret passages, and supernatural sounds. Her other important novel is “The Italian.” Her method way to arouse terror and curiosity by apparently supernatural events which are finally explained as natural events.
Some other Gothic novels:
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
- The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
- The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
- The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales by Edgar Allan Poe
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Why they are famous:
The plot and content of the gothic novels will be Scary and mysterious. The book contains several allusions and assumptions. The plot always seems creepy to the readers. And during that era, people needed some drama and unrealistic elements in their life to boost up the experience of reading time. When some novels started to fire up the process of Gothic literary forms, more authors started to write on this theme. Even, some well know authors who are famous for their humorous works and romance works started to write Gothic to follow the trend and current affairs.
However, People love unrealistic dramas and fiction, especially Gothic elements. Thus, Gothic novels will always entertain their readers with the plots and beautiful narration of dark aesthetics.