Gothic novel

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The Gothic Novel
The end of the 18th century brought the so-called “Gothic novel” to popularity. The interest in such novels was extraordinary and common to all social classes also thanks to circulating libraries. The Gothic influence, however, didn’t cease after this period: today’s ghost and horror novels, which are so keenly read all over the world, come from the 18th century Gothic novel.
The term “gothic” was originally a disparaging term applied to a style of medieval architecture (Gothic architecture) and art (Gothic art).
The term “gothic” came to be applied to the literary genre precisely because the genre dealt with such emotional extremes and dark themes, and because it found its most natural settings in the buildings of this style -- castles, mansions, and monasteries, often remote, crumbling, and ruined. It was a fascination with this architecture and its related art, poetry (see Graveyard Poets), and even landscape gardening that inspired the first wave of gothic novelists. For example, Horace Walpole, whose The Castle of Otranto is often regarded as the first true gothic novel, was obsessed with fake medieval gothic architecture, and built his own house, Strawberry Hill, in that form, sparking off a fashion for gothic revival.
The most common features:
• Great importance given to terror and horror, as two different ingredients, the former characterised by obscurity and uncertainty, and the latter by evil and atrocity;
• The night as the most important setting because darkness is a powerful element to create an atmosphere of gloom, oppression and mystery;
• Ancient settings, like isolated castles, mysterious abbeys and convents with hidden passages, dungeons and secret rooms;
• Complex plots, often complicated by embedded narratives;
• Use of supernatural beings, like vampires, monsters, ghosts and witches;
• Heroines dominated by exaggerated passions and fears, fear of imprisonment, of rape and personal violation;
• Sensitive, honourable heroes, who save heroines against villains who are satanic, terrifying male characters, victims of their negative impulses.