|I vant you to read my portfolio.|
The term Victorian Gothic literature refers to a revival of Gothic literature which took place in the mid-Nineteenth century. During this time period, authors borrowed elements from the Gothic literature of the previous century, and blended it with more realistic elements, including a focus on science and human psychology.
|The Castle Of Otranto by Horace Walpole. It is regarded|
as the prototypical Gothic novel and contains many elements
that influenced the Victorian Gothic genre.
Gothic fiction was born out of the Romantic movement in the late eighteenth century. Horace Walpole is said to have invented the genre, with his novel The Castle of Otranto. Other authors were quick to capitalize on his success by writing their own stories in a similar vein, and so the Gothic movement took off.
The name of this movement was taken from the type of architecture which the stories commonly featured. Old, crumbling castles and abbeys were popular choices for settings, as they were exotic enough to entice readers' imaginations, yet common enough - in England a century or two ago, at least - that they lent a slight amount of plausibility to the tales. Other common elements of Gothic stories from this era were supernatural creatures or events, curses, madness, lust, and death. Gothic literature often made use of dark and fantastic imagery, and appealed to the emotions of the reader in an attempt to create a sense of terror within the reader. Anne Radcliffe, author of the immensely popular Gothic novels The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian, is considered to have been an innovator within the genre, and is credited with having made it socially acceptable, at a time when reading novels was often associated with flightiness or lack of character. However, her success paved the way for dozens of less talented and more morally ambiguous authors to flood the market with a surplus of sensational - and often scandalous - stories in the Gothic vein. Still, readers, especially younger ones, eagerly devoured these tales. Although the original Gothic movement garnered somewhat of a reputation for being melodramatic and formulaic, something about it must have struck a chord, because though the original Gothic movement
|A Gothic Abbey|
|Known for being prudish and difficult to amuse, Queen|
Victoria's reign was nevertheless a time of great change
and innovation within the British Empire.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Victorian Gothic genre is the commentary on science and human nature. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, one of the earliest examples of Victorian Gothic literature, was inspired by a conversation about the natural philosopher Erasmus Darwin who was said to have reanimated dead tissue using electricity. At Shelley's time, science was still an emerging field, and one that many people viewed with some level of distrust. This is evident in Shelley's Frankenstein, where the efforts of one scientist go horribly wrong, and wind up causing huge amounts of destruction. Also evident in this story is the innate belief that human nature is weak and easily swayed to evil. From this belief stems the view shared by many early Victorian Gothic writers that science is too powerful a tool for our meddling human hands. Shelley's other works, "Mortal Immortal" and "Transformation" also display this attitude, as do Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Body-Snatchers" and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
|Jekyll and Hyde's setting in Victorian era London would|
have been much more familiar to most readers than the
exotic castles and mansions of earlier Gothic works.
|Sherlock Holmes: champion|
of reason over superstition
Though the Victorian Era has long since come and gone, the Gothic literature which it gave birth to continues to terrify and entertain audiences. Whether it is in the beloved tales and poems of Edgar Allen Poe, The Adventures of Everyone's Favorite Gumshoe: Sherlock Holmes, or the countless renditions of Count Dracula and Frankenstein's monster, these stories have staying power. Perhaps it is the skillful blending of the supernatural and the scientific, perhaps it is the story they tell us about human nature. Or maybe we just like to be scared.
Readings for the Course:
Frankenstein - Mary Shelley (1818)
Transformation - Mary Shelley (1831)
Mortal Immortal - Mary Shelley (1833)
The Fall of the House of Usher - Edgar Allen Poe (1839)
Murders in the Rue Morgue - Edgar Allen Poe (1841)
My Last Duchess - Robert Browning (1842)
The Old Nurse's Story - Elizabeth Gaskell (1852)
An Account of Some Disturbances in Aungier Street - Joseph Sheridan LeFanu (1853)
Last House - Dinah Craik (1856)
At Crighton Abbey - Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1871)
Carmilla - Joseph Sheridan LeFanu (1872)
The Body-Snatchers - Robert Louis Stevenson (1884)
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
Dracula - Bram Stoker (1897)Jeromette and the Clergyman - Wilkie Collins (1887)
The Withered Arm - Thomas Hardy (1888)
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde (1890)
A Scandal in Bohemia - Arthur Conan Doyle (1891)
The Red Room - H.G. Wells (1894)
The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire - Arthur Conan Doyle (1924)