Instructions: Discuss at least two of the following authors in answering either question A or question B. Please refer specifically to the fiction. Your discussion should be clearly organized, precise, and grammatically correct. Do not retell the plot.

Sheriden LeFanu
Matthew Lewis
Charles Maturin
Edgar A. Poe
Ann Radcliffe
Mary Shelley
Bram Stoker
Horace Walpole

Linda Bayer-Birenbaum suggests that in the Gothic "what is customarily hallowed as real by society and its language is but a small portion of a greater reality of monstrous proportion and immeasurable power."

Identify the speaker, the work, and the significance of the quotation, e.g., theme, characterization, imagery, symbol.

1 . We men pledged ourselves to raise the veil of sorrow from the head of her whom, each in his own way, we loved; and we prayed for help and guidance in the terrible task which lay before us.

2. 1 know not how it was—but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit.... I looked upon the scene before me—upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain—upon the bleak walls—upon the vacant eye-like windows—upon a few rank sedges—and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees—with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium-the bitter lapse into everyday life—the hideous dropping off of the veil.

3. Cruel man, cried –—, to aggravate the woes of a parent! May heaven bless my father, and forgive him as I do! My lord, my gracious sire, dost thou forgive thy child?

4. I am malicious because I am miserable.

5. She followed the windings of stream... Her thoughts, affected by the surrounding objects, gradually sunk into a pleasing and complacent melancholy, and she was insensibly led on. She still followed the course of the stream to where the deep shades retired, and the scene again opening to day, yielding to her a view so various and sublime, that she paused in thrilling and delightful wonder. A group of wild and grotesque rocks rose in a semicircular form, and their fantastic shapes exhibited Nature in her most sublime and striking attitudes... The scene inspired madame with reverential awe, and her thoughts involuntarily arose, ‘from Nature up to Nature's God'.


The heart of the Gothic genre is that incredible terror and horrific events are right next to such everyday acts as taking a shower. It started with the first of the genre with The Castle of Otranto by Walpole. Poor young Conrad is flattened by the helmet off a statue on his way to getting married. That helmet was a heavy reminder to Manfred (and Conrad of course) of the "greater reality" that Bayer-Birenbaum suggests. While Manfred believes it possible that young Theodore is a witch of some kind, he refuses to see the more obvious connection that in the greater reality is a greater justice. A justice that transcends time and death, with the ghost coming bk to keep Frederick on course, to balance the scales.

No one expects to see beyond this "small portion," even when they go looking for it as Frankenstein did. Mary Shelley took a happy, well-adjusted young man–sent him away to college and ruined his life, before graduate school. Victor sensed the power beyond this reality, and he wanted to bathe in it. He imagines that his research will produce a race of beings which will hail him as their creator. This is the kind of hubris that the "greater reality" loves to indulge because the power it releases to once again seek a balance keeps it energized. The moment he is successful Victor realizes the dreadful mistake he has made and tries to run form it. But there is no escape from reality for Victor or his family and friends. In the Gothic world, all are subject to the lot working itself out. Victor's ironic penance is to spent the rest of his life trying to kill his own creation. This creature also acted as an agent in killing all that would have been a natural satisfaction for Victor. All this unexpected pain and malice was obvious in hindsight for all including Victor, but what about those who know something more of what lies beyond our everyday existence?

The Transylvanians knew less than their progressive, modern 19 c contemporaries, but they knew enough about staying alive in Transylvania. England in the 19 c was a fertile ground for Dracula. If it wasn't for an educated man, who was not too arrogant to dismiss all the old superstitions without seeing for himself, Dracula would have unlived a very long time there. Van Helsing had one foot in this smaller portion and another in the greater reality. Unfortunately for Wilhimina's friend his timing could use some work, but he knew that the threat from beyond, with impossible powers was as real as any of them. It was not only real it was evil incarnate. This creature did not have a bad upbringing to blame like Frankensteins creature, he was a malevolent monster who killed women and children. He also worked with duplicity to arrange his situation so it wasn't just an animal instinct to feed. The only things that give the men a chance against him were his preternatural nature, Dracula had to follow some physical laws, and the ability of men to form a community. It seems to be a trait of all supernatural and preternatural creatures that they act alone, lucky for us.

Van Helsing's luck was to find good men to help him rally against the dark vampire. What if he were alone? What chance would he have against the "greater reality of monstrous proportion and immeasurable power:? None at all, according to Poe. His characters are all torn to pieces first emotionally and psychologically, then physically. And not only the characters but the setting as well. All Gothic scenery usually represents or responds to the moods of the characters, but none as dramatically as Poe's Fall of the House of Usher. The slight crack that Rodericks friend notices is an ominous portent of things to come. The bleak depressing grounds of Usher house are all reacting to the wasting melancholy and guilt of Roderick. Roderick is alone in his guilt. He is trapped by his inability to ask for all the help he needs.

In The Tell Tale Heart another man is trapped by his own guilt. He knows the door to the greater reality has been opened, but only to him. The beating heart grows so loud that he can't take the mocking glance of the police, who are oblivious. Here is the greater reality of the Gothic taking retribution, not with a monster or a obvious message for all, but a subtle yet devastating increase in volume in one mans head. This is the height of the Gothic, one cannot hide form the terror even n the confines of ones own mind., It will seek you out and attack you alone, where no other can come to help you.


Quotation 1. This is a statement of the comeing together of the human male protagonists to form a community to
launch a holy crusade to exterminate Dracula in Stokers novel Dracula. The female is Mina, whose work and intelligence as the modern woman made the whole enterprise possible.

The action is pure chivalric. Ironically the very chivalric impulse isolated Mina from the group and in their intention to protect her by excluding her from dangerous man work they made her isolated and accessible to Dracula. However the chivalric pursuit is the essence of their pursuit. They take up holy symbols, carry crosses, holy water, wafers consecrated, and weapons necessary to deal with an antiChrist figure. Christ defeats death after accepting the pain of death in order to save mankind. Dracula exists in an undead state dependent on taking others out of the natural order of life and death. Killing him is reaffirming the power of God's will in this world and the role of "man" to oppose the enemies of Gods order and structure. That their action is sanctified by God is proven not only by the actual functionality of all the anti-vampire Catholic symbols and objects; but is also proven by the fact that even Dracula shows on the next to the last page of the book, that he has an expression of peace and release when the stake is driven through him and he is returned to the natural order. Their community being a holy order is also enforced by their acceptance of prayer for guidance in the ordeal. They are chivalric in that they are men doing this for a lady. They are going to restore the lost "maidenhead" so she will be clean again. They will undo "unnatural" evil so she will not turn into one of them. They will put their lives on the line to save the immortal nature of Mina and Mina as a mother figure, of all mankind. Quincey indeed dies in the final battle but dies contented knowing he dies well and of all deaths on this world ,most purposefully–saving countless others lives and souls. With Dracula's death Mina then is restored to God's world, the burn of the waifer on her forehead disappears.
Symbolically too, in Mina, the modern woman, has made the transition to a society of teamwork and equality (of a sort–no knives, guns, or phallic weaponry) with men. She can work closely, even intimately with men; using her mind as an equal to theirs, organizing and coordinating their discoveries and using her own "manly mind" to make decisions and her gentle femaleness to nurture them through the painful transition they themselves are going through/ Dracula is the evil sex taker in the marketplace, where real gentlemen can work next to real ladies.

Quotation 5. Madame de Menon in A Sicilian Romance is depicted here. We see her as the gold standard for human behavior. Firstly she has an appreciation of the sublime and of nature. Characters in the Radcliff novel have a direct correlation between their goodness and their openness to nature. Being able to stop, even in the course of being pursued, to stop and open your eyes to a place, a moment, and see beyond your petty ego centered cares and appreciate naturae is a sign of a greater soul. God created nature and nature in its grandness gives man the beginning of perspective to his place in the greater scheme of things. It counter balances the egotism. It humbles one to accept the status of a God given little piece of animated clay.

More than this we have souls and our souls should be in harmony with Gods greater world and thus with Gods will. Radcliff's characters encounter no real spooky ghosts other than their own subconsciousness. Radcliff's characters do behave rightly if they are sensitive and sensible as Madame de Menon. Response to nature and the sublime is one sign of this evolution. The reward of this development is as you are "in touch" with nature on an unconscious as well as a conscious way you therefore will "move in the right way." Madames feet will lead her to Julia. People who overcome action and over-responce will behave better and the good people will survive.
The three most alienated form nature characters all fail in the novel. The Marquis of Mazzini and Maria de Vellorno both die. She is a creature of extremes and because she cannot control herself kills herself. The Duke of Luovo is so cut off rom God and nature he loses his own son who won't put up with him and finds freedom as a bandit. The Duke never gets to marry Julia. Evil will have its day, many days, but good, God and nature will prevail.

Julia is on her trip of growth. She has an affinity to music, to song; she appreciates nature. She needs to learn control. She needs exposure to the real world. The womb of their estate opens up to festival. The appearance of Hippoliltus' death is false. The appearance of Julias own mother's deaths proves to be wrong. There is an invisible hand at work in this crazy world that will make it all work out all right in the end for those with faith, who persevere, who believe in acting the right way, who restore their energies from nature which is God' creation. Julia is Cinderella. The world unfolds to justice and evil is punished.

The Gothic Experience Page

Revised: October 10, 2002