Gothic Discussion- Wuthering Heights - Frankenstein and MacbethWatch
Currently in my A level year in Literature, received an A at AS and hoping to gain A* this year!
Just thought i would create a place for discussion regarding these three texts as well as the gothic genre overall. I want to try and make this thread into a revision source of its own with lots of peoples opinions, critical opinions and language analysis.
If you don't study all three please still get involved and give your insight into the one or two you may be studying!
Something else to think about is the presence of a large castle or mansion, preferably with lots of dark corners and family secrets! The very first Gothic novel, 'The Castle of Otranto' by Horace Walpole, made this kind of setting synonymous with the Gothic genre, while another famous novel, 'The Mysteries of Udolpho' by Ann Radcliffe, which came about thirty years later was also set in a large, Italian castle. In fact, the whole genre is named after a style of architecture - so look out for big, dark castles or mansions!
In Jane Eyre, check out the descriptions of Thornfield Hall when Jane first arrives - the whole place is big and dark and mysterious. You might also argue that her family home (or rather, the home she grows up in) is a little bit Gothic: why does Jane get so worried about the Red Room? Did something bad happen there? Wuthering Heights also featured a big, dark mansion - Wuthering Heights itself - and that too has a rather discomforting history that Lockwood only begins to find out during his brief stay there. In fact, you might want to think about why Wuthering Heights is called Wuthering Heights at all - and not, say, 'Heathcliff'. Are we supposed to focus on the house itself, rather than any of the characters?
On ghosts, finally, I'd be careful about saying categorically that they are 'physically real' - even if the descriptions are vivid. Whereas early Gothic texts (e.g. The Castle of Otranto) had supernatural elements (such as a giant helmet falling from the sky and crushing someone to death), later Victorian gothic (e.g. Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Turn of the Screw, etc.) is much more psychological. The whole point, I think, is that we're not sure if any of this really happened. Did Jane really see anything in the Red Room, or was she just feverish? Did Lockwood really see Catherine's bloody hands smash through the window, or was he just dreaming? A key scene here is when Jane first encounters Rochester on the moors (the scene where he falls off his horse and Jane helps him, but he doesn't say who he is): note how often both characters are compared to mythical beasts (Rochester is compared to a Gytrash, for example) - but the point is that they're not mythical beasts, they're real people. So perhaps this scene is supposed to warn us that we often think things are ghosts or demons when really they're not. (A nice poem to read in relation to all this is Emily Dickinson's 'One need not be a chamber to be haunted')
I'm also currently studying these three texts for A2, a month left till my exam and I am slightly struggling with finding universal quotes to use for the gothic genre, if anyone has any quotes I would be glad if you shared them.
I thought the role of women in the gothic was a fascinating one. The connection between women and Gothic is interesting as many of the foremost authors working in the genre have been women. Shelley, Radcliffe, Charlotte Dacre and Sophia Lee were all early Gothic authors and were very influential in the development of the form. Female characters also have a central role to play, they are frequently the victims of make domination and cruelty. At the same time, however, even where they fulfil the typical role of the victim, they often demonstrate great resilience and strength of character, surviving through the harshest of circumstances. Gothic can thus be seen as an important vehicle for considering societal views of women.
I also have notes on Frankenstein and the role of gothic women, if anyone's interested please let me know.