Gothic is a term that has been "usurped" by our modern world. When we think of gothic, the first image that comes to our minds is that of some body wearing black or listening to certain type of music, etc.
But this preference for darkness and the exploration of the sinister is not new. If we go back to the 19th century you will discover lots of writers and poets dealing with the darkest insights of the human soul.
Writers such as Mary Shelley, Emily and Charlotte Brontë, Edgar Allan Poe, and many others were involved in showing us psychological terror, mystery, supernatural worlds, decay, madness and curses. With all these elements and subject matter they could explore more easily different aspects of the human being difficult to understand otherwise. That´s why in their writings they always presented excluded characters such as monsters (Frankenstein), villains and Byronic heroes (Mr. Rochester or Heathcliff), ghosts and characters from the other world or psychopaths ( as the ones we have studied in Poe), etc.
At the same time, they like mixing horror and romance that`s why in most of the books you can find a love story as well.
Read the following extract. Analyse the gothic elements in it and what is going on in the passage.
The intense horror of nightmare came over me; I tried to draw back my arm, but, the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed,“Let me in – let me in!”“Who are you?” I asked, struggling, meanwhile, to disengage myself.“Catherine Linton,” it replied, shiveringly (why did I think of Linton? I had read Earnshaw twenty times for Linton). “I’m come home, I’d lost my way on the moor!”As it spoke, I discerned, obscurely, a child’s face looking through the window – Terror made me cruel; and, finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bed-clothes: still it wailed, “Let me in!” and maintained its tenacious grip, almost maddening me with fear.
This extact belongs to WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Brontë, a novel often described as wild because of its revenge themes, violent scenes and complicated characters.
This book must have been a shock for the Victorian society. It has characteristics from the Romantic period and the Victorian period and in general it is a mixture of gothic and domestic realism. We have an emphasis on intense passions, glorification of nature, celebration of the individualism together with family, duty, and a sense of community, which is more Victorian. To do that she uses a powerful imagery, with a very passionate language, descriptive passages showing the feelings of the characters in a very open way. (A good example of psychological drama)
Who is Heathcliff? Read this extract taken from chapter 4 and analyse how this boy is described and what impression he makes on the Earnshaw family.