victorian gothic literature

The Gothic trend of the late Victorian Gothic novel was a philosophical observation of the absurdities inherent within the society. Pater’s faith in Christianity waned as he began advocating for human character and morality driven by sensational pleasures, a philosophy that Wilde was partial too in his advocacy for “art for art’s sake” rather than the Victorian necessity to assign moral lessons for the middle and upper classes and social education to the artwork. London: The Biography. Though many of his social entourage know or have heard of his exploits, they don’t ostracize him due to the fact that “civilized society is never very ready to believe anything to the detriment of those who are both rich and fascinating… manners are more important than morals and… the highest respectability is of much less value than the possession of a good chef” (113). Gothic Literature Dissertation Ideas: 24 Fresh Suggestions. With the influence of the portrait removed, Dorian finds himself captivated by this new influencer (102). As well as giving you greater expertise in the field of Victorian Gothic literature, this course also enhances your knowledge and skill in other areas. However, the Gothic tropes used earlier in the eighteenth century in texts such as Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho were transported and interwoven into many late-nineteenth century narratives. After the defeat of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815 by the English at Waterloo, there was no significant rival to this economic expansion (Cornwell 342). The Picture of Dorian Gray is a comedy of manners and a horror of beauty that corrupts the soul and the picture acts as a mirror to the soul to show the monster within. Book Description. Seaman, L. C. B. The main elements of Gothic literature are the combination of both the horror and romance genre. Don’t try and influence him. Gothic. Thomas Hardy, 'The Withered Arm' (1888), 'Barbara of the House of Grebe' (1893) M. R. James, 'O Whistle and I'll Come to you, my Lad', 'Casting the Runes', 'Lost Hearts' (all published 1904) Just one little boy in the story's long Scottish summer twilight sees what the girl sees: 'yon windy yonder in the library that is nae windy.' Lord Henry presents Dorian with an obscure book without a title that in his youth had shaped many of his opinions that he promotes (19). Some of the best Gothic writing, like Nesbit's story, or Charlotte Perkins Gilman's very influential The Yellow Wallpaper (1892), deals with violation of domestic space. Wilde identifies these hypocritical dualities of beauty and immorality, the sublime and the grotesque, and influence and the monstrous, and creates Dorian Gray as the embodiment of these observations and how a monstrous individual can remain morally infallible if they are physically beautiful. The American writer Mary E. Wilkins, a prolific writer of good ghost stories, has a particularly poignant one, 'The Lost Ghost', in which a confused and shivering wraith-child is looking for her mother – for any warm, living mother. Here, Wide is exploring his alchemic combination of aestheticism and Christian moral virtue through the use of the portrait as a gauge to detect sin. The Victorian period was wrought with a multitude of complex cultural oscillations surrounding societal expectation, technological innovation, religion, and moral panic. Beasley, Edward. Find books The vampire is often gender-switched too, as with the eponymous heroine of J. Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla (1872) or Mary Elizabeth Braddon's terminally ill but eternally living 'The Good Lady Ducayne' (1896). The coexistence of public and private affairs in the same space became a zeitgeist of the Victorian social atmosphere which is exemplified by the theatre where private boxes were constructed to separate the aristocracy from the other classes and the stage curtains of the theatre “serve to frame rather than hide what happens on stage” (Sampson 30). Download books for free. The Dickens World. Victorian Reads. Much of Poe’s writing and poetry depicts eerie, supernaturalistic scenes and elements. If women’s lives are confined to the home, they are perhaps more likely to … He puts it well. The text focuses on a supposed psychological study of a Parisian man who experimented with the pleasures and sensations that are renounced as sin for the sake of nineteenth-century virtue (100). The text does not begin with a skin-crawling atmosphere typical of other popular Victorian Gothic horror texts so this event that sparks the decline of Dorian is one that is intended to shock the spectator. To further understand the context of The Picture of Dorian Gray, it is important to understand the social issues present within Victorian society. The literature of this era was preceded by romanticism and was followed by modernism or realism. The Victorians became very aesthetically focused on surfaces and surface beauty. London: Yale University Press, 1957. Some of the best Gothic writing, like Nesbit's story, or Charlotte Perkins Gilman's very influential The Yellow Wallpaper (1892), deals with violation of domestic space. Noté /5. Stevenson, Wilde and Bierce use realism to ground their stories, but Victorian Gothic likes to mix it with 'impossible things', as in the nonsense writings of Carroll and Lear. A Guide to the Gothic by Jack Clark is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted. This use of the double recurs in many Gothic works, for example Dante Gabriel Rossetti's agonising artwork, 'How They Met Themselves' (1860-64), in which halves of split personalities confront one another. But upon seeing portrait after his attempt to reverse the damage that he had caused, all he saw was hypocrisy appear on the face of the portrait (176). The contemporary understanding is similar but has widened to include a variety of genres, such as paranormal and horror. Like all literature, late 19th century Gothic literature is to some degree a product of its social and cultural environments. New York: State University of New York Press 2004. This cultural upheaval caused uncertainty and anxiety across the class threshold (Ackroyd 599). If women’s lives are confined to the home, they are perhaps more likely to tune into sad feminine afterlives still housebound after death. Here was an ever-present sign of the ruin men brought upon their souls” (78). Scholars such as Jerrod Hogle, Kenneth Womack, specifically evaluate the use of the Gothic and its inherent supernatural elements as the tool of Wilde to express his ethical criticism of society and artistic culture (169). H. G. Wells, 'The Door in the Wall' (1906) Its origin is attributed to English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto, subtitled (in its second edition) "A Gothic Story". The text contends that influence is a predominantly negative force. Oxford: European Academic Publishers 2003. London: Wordsworth Classics, 2001. Through this duplicitous characterization, Wilde creates a more sinister creature outside the typical good and sublime, evil and grotesque binary of Victorian Gothic. Robert Louis Stevenson also perpetuated this fear of internal threats from human nature itself with the publication of the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Because of this, there was also resistance to Enlightenment rationality that believed that romanticism and faith still played an important cognitive role within European culture (Saul, Tebbutt 43). About as domestic as you can get is the setting of Madelene Yale Wynne's 'The Little Room'(1895) in which a 'little room' in a New England farmhouse regularly morphs into a china closet. This gains ground after the occupation of Egypt in 1882, which brought a flood of reanimated mummies and other tomb furniture onto the literary market. In a desperate fit of rage and anguish, he believed that destroying the portrait was the only way he could undo the damage and in doing so he destroyed himself. Subsequently, public faith in Christian Orthodoxy began to wane in the wake of Enlightenment rationalist thinking that deliberately undermined the church and the monarchy. The history of Gothic literature dates back to 18th century England. The result of this was a call for social segregation of the working class for any further successful development of London suburbs (Ackroyd 523). A deeper level of this is Basil’s inability to separate Dorian from the portrait in the second chapter where he states that, “as soon as you (Dorian) are dry, you shall be varnished and framed, and sent home” (25). The literature also made its way to the subculture, Edgar Allan Poe being a huge hit and a very popular figure in the subculture. London: Reaktion Books, 2002. To support OCR Literature A Level study. Something profound but abstruse is being said by Wynne about the nature of perception and memory, and the story's gentle but firm ambivalence is clearly its point. (Guy 177). Thomas, Donald. The Victorian Underworld. Houghton, Walter E. The Victorian Frame of Mind: 1830-1870. Your influence would be bad” (15). Edith Nesbit, 'Man-Size in Marble' (1896) Stevenson’s work was an inspiration to Wilde when conceptualizing the duality of Victorian society. 3. London: Oxford University Press, 1960. Mid-Victorian Imperialists. Retrouvez The Victorian Gothic: An Edinburgh Companion et des millions de livres en stock sur Such ghostly flotsam of Empire is often seen as a 'reverse colonisation' of the coloniser by the colonised. Dorian Gray not only symbolizes the hypocrisy of this duplicity but also the complex nature of a nation undergoing a significant industrial, social and cultural revolution. It was further developed by Clara Reeve, Ann Radcliffe, William Thomas Beckford and Matthew Lewis. Social entrepreneurs such as Charles Dickens advocated for the rights of women and children and spoke often about education reform for the working class (House 10). The spirits of newly annexed territory in this great age of European colonisation often hit back like this, establishing a late-Victorian sub-form, 'Imperial Gothic.' Vampiric figures appeared in 18th-century poetry, such as Heinrich August Ossenfelder’s “Der Vampyr” (1748), about a seemingly vampiric narrator who seduces an innocent maiden. He would often use his observations to inspire characters for his own texts such as Oliver Twist (1837) A Christmas Carol (1843), and Great Expectations (1861). Wilde uses the Metaphor of the picture in the attic to juxtapose Dorians own simultaneous superficial and visceral duplicity. Guy, Josephine M. The Victorian Age: An Anthology of Sources and Documents. Algernon Blackwood, 'The Willows' (1908) and 'The Wendigo' (1910). Shelley’s education plus having the benefit of being privy to intellectual conversation among her father’s friends would become a significant influence for her in creating Frankenstein (1818). Writers were able to privilege mystery over explanation, ambiguity over what Keats called 'irritable reaching after fact and reason', capturing the dark side of the Victorian soul in all its energetic and self-revealing doubt. However, the genre did not truly take off until the Victorian era, which spanned most of the nineteenth-century. As a result of these key factors, England began to secularise. His associate Lord Henry is very interested to meet the boy who could inspire such artistic inspiration, but Basil is very protective of Dorian as he fears that his character could be manipulated under the wrong Influence. J. Sheridan Le Fanu, 'Authentic Narrative of the Ghost of a Hand' in The House by the Churchyard (1861), 'Green Tea' (1872), Carmilla (1872) London in the Nineteenth Century. Much like that of various literary genres, villains play a pivotal role in Gothic literature. Whereas Dorian naively enacts Lord Henry’s philosophy whilst maintaining the façade of his manners and morality within the Victorian social landscape. 'The Willows' (1908)is about the unbearable swishing of trees on a canoe holiday down the Danube, while 'The Wendigo' (1910) takes us to Northern Ontario where an exhausted Kanuck tracker is snapped up by a vengeful Algonquian Demon, twenty-five feet high. Arthur Conan Doyle, 'Lot No 249' (1892) Wilde had intended the text to be simultaneously controversial and provocative as a critique of Victorian aesthetic obsession with beauty and its culturally believed correlation with moral sensibility. Tumblr is a place to express yourself, discover yourself, and bond over the stuff you love. Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, 'The Shadows on the Wall' (1903), 'The Lost Ghost' (1903) Victorian Hauntings: Spectrality, Gothic, the Uncanny and Literature | Julian Wolfreys (auth.) The vampire makes a spectacular come-back. Bram Stoker, 'The Judge's House' (1891) The portrait reflects Dorian’s soul and shows him the consequence of his sin. Scholars such as Fred Botting, Joseph Carroll, Richard Ellman, and Angela Kingston discuss the conflict between “homoeroticisms correlation with male sexual phycology and the Christian ethos of good and evil as Wilde conceives it” that seemed to correlate with this secularisation (3). The influence of religion over the general populace was also subject to change; the focus on scientific research into the origins of creation, and post-Enlightenment rationale claimed that religion was part of prior superstition before natural phenomenon could be explained through the scientific process. Akin to other Gothic literature, Dorian’s portrait becomes the grotesque phantom that haunts his existence. The late Victorian period saw the publication of some of the most enduring and popular Gothic texts in English literature. Dorian deduces that if he can keep the beauty of the portrait unsoiled then he has successfully maintained the purity of his soul (78). The environment is key to the trope and sets the atmosphere as the supernatural trope needs the appropriate atmosphere to be effective: Dracula’s castle, Frankenstein’s lab, and the Phantom’s opera house to name but a few. The Living Dead: The Study of the Vampire in Romantic Literature. Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is a key example of these trends in Victorian Gothic literature. Stevenson stipulated that “within each of us two natures are at war” as humanity struggled to control its more animalistic natures and conform (54). While this revolution was gaining momentum in England and social revolutions raged over the world, the Victorians also reigned over one of the most powerful economic empires in the world due to the cotton industry, that produced immense amounts wealth. Victorian Goth. A favourite quotation in Victorian ghost-stories is Hamlet's 'There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.' While other Gothic novels portray Victorian London was the embodiment of the empire to be invaded or corrupted due to its virtuous civility and morality and supreme nature, Oscar Wilde maintains that the city as an environment is already corrupted through its population’s moral ambiguity and unethical practices despite its beautiful aesthetic. London: William Collins, 2014. Though Dorian engages in a hedonistic lifestyle that is never fully explored in the initial text, leaving much to the imagination, Dorian’s reputation in the public sphere does fall under scrutiny and scandal. These are the words that initially influence Dorian to unwittingly trade his soul for eternal youth and Lord Henry convinces him that beauty and youth are the only things worth having (21). The novel’s theme of aestheticism is a critique of  Victorian moral panic. One that is harder to identify that could exist right next to the spectator to challenge the Victorian duality of morality and beauty through the paradox of Dorian’s influential sinful nature yet unblemished physicality. North Carolina University of North Carolina Press 1998. 1. Buckton, Oliver S. Secret Selves: Confession and Same-Sex Desire in Victorian Autobiography. No Man’s Land, Elder Gods and Monsters: The Modern Gothic from 1900-1932. Likewise, Dorian Gray’s immorality makes him monstrous though, unlike previous iterations of the monstrous Gothic antagonist that donned a grotesque aesthetic, Dorian is considered beautiful. Hogle, Jerrold E. The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction. Gilbert, Palmela K. Mapping the Victorian Social Body. Most lists of Gothic fiction rightly include Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, but somehow manage to forget this book by the youngest Bronte sister. The Picture of Dorian Gray is an exemplary piece of Gothic literature of the late nineteenth century but is also a glimpse into common trends of the Victorian mind and nuances of their society. Basil makes this assertion to Lord Henry by saying, “…don’t spoil him (Dorian). The point of the vampire is of course to introduce some notion the exchange of bodily fluids, 'slippery blisses' (Keats) that cannot at this time be mentioned in wholesome fiction. The major setting for scenes as depicted in Gothic literature are Victorian style huge mansions. He argues that Lord Henry’s true philosophy is one of “inaction… beyond good and evil… Lord Henry never acts and never falls” (124). This branch of scholarship typically argues that the text offers “two competing visions of human nature… the first derives from the aesthetic doctrines of Walter Pater, and the other from a traditional Christian conception of the soul” (2). These texts were controversial as they often scrutinized and critiqued social and cultural structures of the period and simultaneously sensationalized them with romantic notions, sexual depravity, immorality, and grotesque monstrous forms.

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