How Are Women Depicted And Treated In Gothic Literature?
Gothic literature, a subgenre of Romantic literature, was a literary movement of the late 18th and early to mid- 19th century that employed dark imagery, melodramatic narration, and an atmosphere of terror and mystery. Authors of Gothic literature include Edgar Allen Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Mary Shelley. This genre consistently shows its characters at the whim and mercy of forces which they cannot understand and are powerless to stop. This is specially true of the female person characters of Gothic literature, who are portrayed as pure and naïve, unnaturally cute, sexually attracting, and fated for tragedy. Examples of such women can be found in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera.
In Bram Stoker’due south Dracula, the antagonist, the evil and supernatural Count Dracula, is a vampire who must drink the blood of the living in guild to stay alive himself. His first victim in the novel is the beautiful Lucy Westerna, whose attractiveness is evidenced by the matrimony proposals recently received from three men. Lucy’due south innocence and sexual bewitchery is shown simultaneously when she asks her friend Mina “why can’t they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and salve all this problem?” (Stoker, 1990, p.268). Under the influence of Dracula, Lucy begins sleepwalking and he overtakes her in a cemetery. Her helplessness is further evidenced when she is given bedrest and claret transfusions under the care of Dr. Van Helsing. When her female parent unwittingly removes the cloves of garlic strung about the room, Dracula is able to come up to her equally a wolf, killing her and sealing her tragic fate.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein portrays women in much the same style. The most obvious example is Justine Moritz, the servant of the Frankenstein family described as “very clever and gentle, and extremely pretty” (Shelley, 1994, p. 121). When Victor Frankenstein’southward monster kills William Frankenstein, the monster frames her by putting a photograph William was carrying at the fourth dimension of his murder in her pocket. She confesses to the murder due to her superstition that those she loves dies considering she loves them as well much and because the Catholic priest she confesses to advises her she will go to hell if she does non confess. Shelley presents the character of Justine as another beautiful, powerless women of gothic literature.
Finally, one tin likewise observe evidence of the classic Gothic female character in Christine Daae in Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera. Christine is a beautiful, young singer at the Paris Opera Business firm which has been terrorized by the mysterious Erik, who is the “Phantom of the Opera.” Erik captures Christine seeking to brand her fall in beloved with him. When she escapes, Christine plans to run away to escape Erik for good, only non before performing a last song for him. This reveals Christine’due south great capacity for compassion for The Phantom. Afterwards, when she is trapped by Erik again, Christine allows him to kiss her and returns his kiss. When Erik dies, Christine keeps her promise to him to visit his grave and return the band he gave her. Equally Erik himself said, “If I am the phantom, information technology is because human’s hatred has made me and so. If I am to be saved it is because your love redeems me,” (Leroux, 1994, p 193). The dazzler of Christine’s pure soul caused a modify in the monstrous Erik, which is a classic example of the part of women in Gothic literature.
In summary, women in Gothic literature are portrayed as cute, pure, and fated for tragedy. Lucy, of Bram Stoker’southward Dracula, shows the tragic fate of women in this genre, as she is a beautiful women powerless to the evil and oppressive Count Dracula. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Justine is another example of a pretty, innocent, and naïve woman who suffers a bitter and unjust end. And Christine, of The Phantom of the Opera, shows the purity of women in this genre which is beautiful impact the heart of even the well-nigh monstrous of villains. Though this portrayal of women may appear to exist sexist of misogynistic from a modern perspective, information technology is certainly a staple of female person character of the Gothic novel.
Leroux, Grand. (1994). The Phantom of the Opera. New York: Puffin Books.
Shelley, M. (1994). Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. New York: Oxford University Printing.
Stoker, B. (1990). Dracula. New York: Oxford University Press.
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My Introduction to Gothic Literature Summary