Characteristics of the Gothic in My Novels

First, those who read Gothic novels know that Horace Walpole started the phenomenon with his The Castle of Otranto way back in 1764. We define a Gothic novel based on the characteristics we find in Walpole’s work.

1. The setting is always based on an old castle. The castle may be occupied or not. It should contain secret passageways or secret rooms. (The Phantom of Pemberley) Ruined sections of the castle are often used as part of the story line. The darkened passageways and staircases adds to the mysterious flavor of the work. In more modern works, we find an old house or mansion. (Vampire Darcy’s Desire)
2. Speaking of mysteries, obviously, a true Gothic is laced with the fear of the unknown. This is usually enhanced by the plot involving an “unknown” secret (Vampire Darcy’s Desire), an “unknown” relative, an inexplicable event, or, best of all, a unexplained disappearance. (The Phantom of Pemberley)
3. Characters often have dream visions (Vampire Darcy’s Desire) or an omen of death occurs. Shadowy figures appear, but are often mistaken for a nightmare. (The Phantom of Pemberley)
4. An ancient prophecy is connected to the castle or the people who live there. (Vampire Darcy’s Desire). The prophecy is not readily explainable.
5. Supernatural elements are found in the book. (Vampire Darcy’s Desire)
6. Women at the mercy of a powerful male. (The Phantom of Pemberley)
The male manipulates the woman into committing an intolerable act. (Vampire Darcy’s Desire) The women in Gothic novels usually respond by crying or screaming. The woman is often a sympathetic character because her life is less than pristine. (The Phantom of Pemberley)
7. Emotions are readily displayed by the characters – terror, surprise, anger, etc. (The Phantom of Pemberley and Vampire Darcy’s Desire)
8. The text is loaded with the metonymy of a movie. There is a book entitled How to Read Literature Like a Professor. One of the chapters deals with “rain.” What we find is when it rains in literature or in the movies, someone is likely to die. That is metonymy, where something like rain equals death. It is an extended metaphor. (Vampire Darcy’s Desire)

About Regina Jeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and historical romantic suspense.
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