ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What Defines Gothic Literature?

Updated on November 22, 2015
RGraf profile image

Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

This is one genre that is not quite so popular today. It was hugely popular in the 1800s and in the mid twentieth century. It is a genre that is still read today, although there is very little new Gothic literature being produced. It is also known as Gothic horror due to the terror and suspense that accompanies it.

Let’s start with examples of Gothic literature.

Examples

It can be hard sometimes to explain categories. It is easier to talk about the items found within the categories to truly understand them. Here are some popular examples of gothic literature.

  • Wuthering Heights

  • Frankenstein

  • Dracula

  • Jane Eyre

  • The Phantom of the Opera

  • Edgar Allen Poe stories

  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame

  • The Turn of the Screw

  • Victoria Holt novels

Each of these authors use a combination of the essential Gothic elements to spin tales that linger in all lovers of books.


Element of Fear

All Gothic literature has an element of fear into. Suspense is high. There is no reading these stories at night and not feel fear. Realize that this is not quite horror fear. It is close. Everything within these Gothic horror stories is implied. You don’t see the horror as much as feel it and anticipate it; it is the unknown that evokes fear.

There are strange noises, flashes of white, ghosts, and unknown people. What is it? Where did it go? Was it real? Was it all in your imagination? All of these questions could be flitting through your mind as you read a Gothic novel or story.

Elements of Romance

Gothic literature typically has a strong element of romance. It is almost as important to have as to have fear. The romance is not easy. It is almost unattainable because of the unknown. The mystery/horror gets in the way and prevents the romance from blooming any more than just hints and desire. There is an attraction. There might be a kiss. But more than that rarely happens as each time they get close the horror rises. Wuthering Heights is an ideal example of a Gothic novel with a suspenseful romantic story.

While most Gothic stories contain a romantic element, authors such as Edgar Allen Poe have a distinct lack of love between the characters; his stories are still no less Gothic than Dracula or The Castle of Otranto.

Typical Characters

Most Gothic novels have the same type of characters. There is the brooding male character who has secrets and could be the one behind the horror. He is also the romantic interest. Then there is the innocent, pure young woman who finds herself caught in a world that is full of so much unknown while trying to understand the attraction for the strange man who might not be who she thinks he is. There could be an old woman who adds to the mystery. There even could be another man who vies for the attention of the fair maiden.

The Setting

Most Gothic stories are situated in a castle or a large manor that is gloomy. When you see the house, you just know there is something creepy going on. There is usually fog, storms, and lots of scenes at night. Anything that increases suspense and fear is part of it. You won’t find fields of daisies or rainbows in these stories.

While everyone knows the story of Dracula and Frankenstein, we don’t have the same Gothic literary characters that are of contemporary age. The language of a genre that was created and became wildly popular in the 19th century can be difficult for a new reader; a novel such as Jane Eyre might be harder for a reader to get into due to some of the anachronistic language. The good news is is that although the Gothic genre is not as nearly as popular as it has been in the past, there are still authors producing works. If you feel as though Gothic works might be for you, but you have a hard time feeling the flow of older language, here are some books you might want to check out:

Bellefleur- Joyce Carol Oates - a vast clan, the Bellefleurs, are shrouded in mystery and eccentricity. Based in upstate New York.

Interview with the Vampire- Anne Rice- a bestseller, this one delves into suspense and love that only a good Gothic novel could.

Floating Staircase- Ronald Malfi- a husband and wife move into a new house on a lake, only to find strange, mysterious things happening. A perfect Gothic novel.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • RGraf profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Graf 

      2 years ago from Wisconsin

      I think they could be considered Gothic. They certainly have many of the features.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for refreshing me about Gothic literature. I recall some of this from my college courses long ago. Would you consider ssome of Alfred Hitchcock movies, such as "The Birds"' as Gothic?

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)