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The Role of Horror in the Gothic Writing Essay

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English literature in the Romantic period can be characterised as emphasising on free and natural utterance of authors’ feelings as the reaction toward the world. Romantic authors stress on the influence of feelings over rationality and mind over body—they admire the potential power of human’s mind to engage in the external world emotionally, reflect on it and envisage a spiritual and idealistic one through imagination. In Gothic writing, an important genre in Romantic literature, authors try to evoke readers’ fear and anxiety, cultivate their sensibility and explore human’s mind through presenting horrible myths and supernatural. Horror, as a highly pertinent element in Gothic writing, plays an important role in stimulating readers and awakening their sensibility in a thrilling but aesthetic way. In Gothic novels, horror is often created by personal memories, historical events, uncontrollable subconscious and anything that people attempt to escape from. The symbolisation of horrible sources and even the embodiment of horror itself are rather common.
Considering Romantic writers, Mary Shelley and Jane Austen enjoy high reputation in composing Gothic novels. Yet, these two authors have distinct understanding of Gothic. As a result, the way and purpose they apply horror to their fictional stories are entirely different. In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s best-known novel, she employs horror as an approach to have readers directly speak to “the mysterious fears of our nature” (Cavaliero 61). By illustrating the frustrating process of how a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, creates a monster and struggles against it, Mary Shelley discloses the source of fear in human nature and has people realise it. On the contrary, Jane Austen holds a mo...


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Works Cited

Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey. London: Penguin Books, 2003. Print.
Cavaliero, Glen. The Supernatural and English Fiction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995. Print.
Fuller, Miriam R. “‘Let me go, Mr. Thorpe; Isabella, do not hold me!’: Northanger Abbey and the Domestic Gothic” Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal 32 (2010): 90-104
Harwell, Thomas M., ed. The English Gothic Novel: A Miscellany in Four Volumes Volume 2: Texts. Salzburg: Universitat Salzburg, 1986. Print.
Miller, Kathleen A. “Haunted Heroines: The Gothic Imagination and the Female Bildungsromane of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, and L. M. Montgomery” The Lion and the Unicorn 34. 2 (2010): 125-147
Richetti, John. The Cambridge Companion to the Eighteenth Century Novel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Print.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. London: Penguin Books, 1992. Print.



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