Gothic Literature:

Elements that classify literature as Gothic, must include the following:

Setting in a castle- an old abandoned castle is the perfect setup for this type of novel. most castles have secret corridors, spooky staircases, trap doors and those eerie sections that are forbidden. Darkness and shadows on these grounds creates the real sense of danger and claustrophobia.

An atmosphere of mystery and suspense- most are built around a story of suspense, sometimes dealing with a disappearance or death, leaving the reader with a feeling of fear from the unknown.

An ancient prophecy- is connected with the castle or its inhabitants (either former or present). The prophecy is usually obscure, partial, or confusing. "What could it mean?"

Omens, portents, visions- A character may have a disturbing dream, vision, or some phenomenon may be seen as foreshadow of coming events. For example, if the statue of the lord of the manor falls over, it may foreshadow his death. In modern fiction, a character might see something (a shadowy figure stabbing another shadowy figure) and think that it was a dream. This might be thought of as an "imitation vision."

Supernatural or otherwise inexplicable events- Dramatic, amazing events occur, such as ghosts or giants walking, or inanimate objects (such as a suit of armor or painting) coming to life. In some works, the events are ultimately given a natural explanation, while in others the events are truly supernatural.

High, even overwrought emotion- The narration may be highly sentimental, and the characters are often overcome by anger, sorrow, surprise, and especially, terror. Characters suffer from raw nerves and a feeling of impending doom. Crying and emotional speeches are frequent. Breathlessness and panic are common. In the filmed Gothic, screaming is common.

Women in distress- As an appeal to the pathos and sympathy of the reader, the female characters often face events that leave them fainting, terrified, screaming, and/or sobbing. A lonely, pensive, and oppressed heroine is often the central figure of the novel, so her sufferings are even more pronounced and the focus of attention. The women suffer all the more because they are often abandoned, left alone (either on purpose or by accident), and have no protector at times.

Women threatened by a powerful, impulsive, tyrannical male- One or more male characters has the power, as king, lord of the manor, father, or guardian, to demand that one or more of the female characters do something intolerable. The woman may be commanded to marry someone she does not love (it may even be the powerful male himself), or commit a crime.

The metonymy of gloom and horror- Metonymy is a subtype of metaphor, in which something (like rain) is used to stand for something else (like sorrow). For example, the film industry likes to use metonymy as a quick shorthand, so we often notice that it is raining in funeral scenes.

The vocabulary of the Gothic- The constant use of the appropriate vocabulary set creates the atmosphere of the Gothic. Using the right words maintains the dark-and-stimulated feel that defines the gothic.

Frankenstein is an exemplary model for a piece of Gothic literature.

KW