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The Gothic Novel

An article by Valerie Mamicheva


What is a gothic novel?

A Gothic novel is thought to be a novel of "horrors and mysteries": it has a theme and a philosophy of the "world' evil", a representation of something supernatural, mysterious, sombre; its plot is always bound up with secret murders, the heroes are marked with a seal of a demonic lot.

The Gothic novel is a miscellanea of the ancient and the modern styles, fantastic and realistic things; it is a tale about incredible events. It differs with a dignified manner of telling and many people can say that it looks like "an ancient novel about adventures of knights". Through all gothic novels we watch a strife of passions and feelings of the main heroes.

 Here are some attributes of a gothic novel:

  1. The actions take place in a godforsaken castle, a monastery or an abbey with forbidden locked rooms, long narrow passageways, etc.
  2. The certain atmosphere: a moaning and a howling of a wind. The place of an action is in the vicinity of some cemetery, waste or something else.
  3. There are many servants scurrying along narrow corridors, often they're very funny and chatty.
  4. The main characters are: some knave, a young lady (beautiful, kind, noble, wise and, of course, pensive), and a young man who is struggling with an evil.
  5. And there is always some secret (a murder, maybe, or deprivation of a inheritance...)
  6. Sometimes, there are ghosts, witchcraft, charms, witches, predictions and etc.
  7. Sometimes, an author tells us that this novel are taken from an ancient manuscript or that this novel is found in a library of some catholic family centuries ago. Usually, an author tells it in an introduction to his novel.

There are two main types of gothic novel:

  1. Sentimental gothic novel ("The old English baron", for example).
  2. Black novel ("The devil in love", for example).

During a gothic novel good heroes fight with their enemies and seek a key to a solution. Supernatural things are always taken as real ones.

 Valerie Mamicheva
July, 2001