The Best Gothic Literature

[Mercedes Brazier | Sports Sub Editor]

The Gothic Genre was introduced at the end of the Romanticism era, hence why most novels contain aspects of both, and the novel to be first termed ‘Gothic’ was The Castle of Ontario which was released in 1764 and would inspire a new genre that would become very popular in the coming century. It is the story of Manfred, lord of the castle, and his family. Manfred’s son dies on his wedding day, and fearing the end of his line, he attempts to marry his son’s fiancé while divorcing his wife, who was unable to bear him a suitable heir. The story continues with the fiancée, Princess Isabella’s, attempting to escape from his clutches with the aid of a peasant named Theodore. There are some knights, battles, discussion and death leading to the true King of Ontario being crowned. It may sound like your typical run of the mill twisted Disney story, but it is far from it. It has a lot of dark symbolism and if you appreciate literature you will understand why it sparked such debate and interest in the coming years.

Dracula is the vampire of all vampires, the big boss, the don! And one of my favourite examples of Gothic Literature. It was written by Bram Stoker in the late 1800s, and has been the basis for all vampire stories and tales over the last two centuries. There have been many adaptations of the book in the form of films, plays and other productions. The novel is set in England and Transylvania where an English Solicitor visits Count Dracula to provide legal support for a real estate transaction. Harker, the lawyer, soon realises that he is Draculas prisoner and is left in the mansion while the Count travels to England to pursue Harker’s fiancé.  It’s a thrilling read that forces you to read it as fast as you can. However if you have too much to read with University then the 1992 film is a good watch! There is also a new Dracula film out in the cinemas now so have a watch and let me know what you think!

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter has all the elements of gothic novels, mainly inspired by other stories, but with a darker modern twist that would have caused uproar in the 1800s. There are 10 short stories in the book, with the title story being the longest story. The Bloody Chamber is inspired by the French Fable Author Charles Perrault and his story of Bluebeard, a wealthy Aristocrat who has been married several times but no one knows what has become of his wives, and therefore is avoided by all local women. The story of Bluebeard and the Marquis, of the Blood Chamber, are fairly similar with the same plot of the main character remarrying and giving the ‘keys of the castle’ to their new brides while they are away for a while. The classic story of curiosity killing the cat plays a huge role in the demise of the wives when they are told to not enter a particular part of the Castle. Angela Carter’s novel also contains: The Courtship of Mr. Lyon, The Tiger’s Bride, Puss-in-Boots, The Erl-King, The Snow Child, The Lady of the House of Love, The Werewolf, The Company of Wolves, and Wolf Alice. The Snow Child is somewhat disturbing once you master the symbolism and language used in this story, but is incredibly powerful and deserves the position it has in the middle of the book.

Frankenstein was written by the 18 year old Mary Shelley in 1818, and published anonymously to begin with due to the prejudice against women writers.  Many people believe that the monster created by the Doctor is called Frankenstein, however it is the Doctor whose last name is Frankenstein and his creation is known as Frankenstein’s Monster. It may seem confusing but read that over slowly a few times and it will make more sense, in my A Level classes it took a few hours for me to stop calling the monster Frankenstein, my teacher was exasperated! This novel is written in form of letters and from the perspective of the Monster and the Doctor. The Doctor has an unnatural obsession and takes to cemetery’s and digs up pieces of the dead, in order to create his own human being, after working with a chemistry professor who inflames his ambitions. The story is that of the Doctor and Monster after his creation, and the journeys they travelled separately and together. When reading this novel, if you are an emotional person or someone that has been made to feel secluded you will relate with the Monster, whereas if you feel you are misunderstood or unappreciated then you will relate with the Doctor.

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The Best Gothic Literature