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Gothic literature, The World of Imagination

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Par   •  9 Avril 2018  •  Dissertation  •  1 485 Mots (6 Pages)  •  2 807 Vues

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Thématique : The WORLD OF IMAGINATION : 
Sous-thème : Gothic literature


The notion which I am going to present you is “The world of imagination”. It’s the ability to think about things which do not exist. The notion of imagination is like mental creative ability. 
To begin with, writers have always used their imagination to create worlds which can entertain readers. This is especially true for Gothic Literature. 
The word « gothic » originally describes a style of European architecture created between the 12th and the 16th centuries, and in a larger sense, « Gothic » has been applied to describe a kind of fiction (which is) characterized by elements found in such buildings : readers can experience feelings of fear, horror, they can experience the supernatural, or madness. It's a genre that combines fiction, horror/terror and Romanticism. The main characters are tyrants, bandits, maniacs, persecuted maidens / « damzels in distress » and also vampires. Other elements that characterize this type of fiction might include mystery, romance, terror, the supernatural…The settings are very important to convey the appropriate /right atmosphere : there are haunted houses and Gothic architecture, castles, darkness, death can be felt in these walls... 
The term Gothic came to be applied to this literary genre precisely because it’s a genre with such emotional extremes and dark themes. There are many authors who contributed to the development of this genre. In class, we studied extracts from The Castle of Otranto by Horace WALPOLE, published in 1764 and (EXTRACT n°2= …. of founding texts) /  We also studied more recent texts like… or…

/ Ann Radcliffe was one of many novelists who wrote  Gothic novels/stories.. (We'll illustrate the concept with some of these gothic authors.) 

So, the question we’ll try to answer is /We are going to ask ourselves : “How has Gothic literature evolved over years ? What impact does gothic literature still have today ?” 


We will answer through / with the help of three documents. (two studied in class + my personal document)


1/ First we studied an extract from the Castle of Otranto, a founding text of Gothic Literature, with the theme of the damzel in distress…


2/Then, we studied Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus published in 1818 which is a typical Gothic novel, but also a new form of literature as some people consider it as the first science-fiction novel. The story is about Victor Frankenstein, who devoted his life to…/who was passionate about science and reanimation since college. He became a scientist, and one day, he succeeded/managed to create a monster with a lot of body parts from corpses/ dead human beings that he found in cemeteries.

In the first extract we studied, taken from Chapter 5, after months of labour/hard work, Doctor Victor Frankenstein completes his creation on a stormy night. But when he brings it to life, its awful appearance horrifies him. Then the creature accidentally hangs itself and Victor leaves it for dead. He (rushes to the next room and) tries to sleep, but he is troubled by nightmares about Elizabeth and his mother’s corpse. He wakes to discover the monster looming/looking over his bed with a grotesque smile and rushes out of the house. (Victor spends the night pacing/walking in his courtyard). The next morning, he goes walking in the town of Ingolstadt, thus abandoning his creature…

The setting is very important : storm + darkness + night…

The suspense creates a tension which appeals to the reader…

Then, in the second extract we studied, in chapter 23, which deals with Victor Frankenstein’s wedding night with Elisabeth, Mary Shelley combines several ingredients to create a Gothic novel, and frighten the readers : strange noises, foreign setting (they’re away from home) as opposed to the traditional wedding night, normally a moment of happiness and security…

The extract takes place after the wedding,  when Victor and Elizabeth depart for a family cottage to spend the night.Victor can think of nothing but / is obsessed with the monster’s imminent arrival. And Victor worries that Elizabeth might be upset by the monster’s appearance and the battle between them. So he tells her to retire for the night. He begins to search for the monster in the house, when suddenly he hears Elizabeth scream and realizes that it was never his death that the monster had been intending this night, but Elizabeth’s death.

 (Consumed with grief over her death, Victor returns home and tells his father the news. Shocked by the tragic end of what should have been a joyous day, his father dies a few days later. Victor finally breaks his secrecy and tries to convince a magistrate in Geneva that an unnatural monster is responsible for the death of Elizabeth, but the magistrate does not believe him. Victor resolves to devote the rest of his life to finding and destroying the monster). 

Here again, the setting is key :

 the storm signals that something evil is going to happen… And another quality of Gothic fiction, is the psychic communication between characters : Victor can sense that the « creature » intends to hurt him. Indeed, this novel contains some ingredients to create a memorable novel in Gothic tradition. 
The author used literary terms in this scene…, lexical fields of (death and the nature), and he creates

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