Gothic Horror Stories: A Literary Analysis

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Amidst the dark, winding passageways, the crumbling mansions and castles in obscure locations, the eerie, stormy weather, the madness and the monsters of the Gothic horror genre, lie a number of conventions. Gothic horror works typically share similarities in terms of setting, character, themes and the emotional responses which they evoke in the reader. Far off settings and a focus on the power of nature give the works an otherworldly atmosphere. A weak female character in distress is typical of this genre, especially alongside a brooding male character who is haunted by an unknown past or is at his core either mad, monstrous or both. At the heart of each work, there is typically a Monster - a force of ‘bad’ but not necessarily pure evil.…show more content…
Gothic horror tends to be set during dark, mysterious and brooding weather in foreign locations. The obscurity provided by both the inaccessible location and weather contributes to the sense of mystery, isolation and unknown, building both curiosity and a sense of apprehension in the reader. This is apparent in all four works. In Rebecca, Manderly is an old mansion with many passages and an entire wing that the protagonist is not allowed to enter. It is remote, surrounded by woods and gardens which have a sort of ordered chaos about them, as if they are wild creatures that threaten to encroach but are held back. The mansion is also situated on the seaside allowing for the occurrence of ocean mists and storms. As Rebecca’s legacy continues to haunt Max De Winter and his new wife begins to unravel the story, their relationship begins to disintegrate. By the end of the novel when Manderly is revisited, it is also a crumbling wreck, just like the characters’ own relationship. The Fall of the House of Usher is also set in an old crumbling mansion which appears to have a demonic life of it’s own. In the Fall of the House of Usher, the imagery employed parallels the mansion’s disintegration with the characters descent into madness. In Gothic horror setting is often used in this way to reflect the internal conflicts within the characters or show the conflict within the story on a greater natural

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