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-The Gothic Novel-

In the second half of the 18th century born a new type of novel, based on a taste for the strange, the mysterious, the freedom, the escape from the ugly world, the fear of the triumph of evil over good and chaos over order.

Gothic novels in Great Britain, wrote between 1760 and 1820, reflected a specific historical moment characterized by an increasing disillusionment with the Enlightenment and rationality.
The Gothic influence, however, did not cease after this period: today’s ghost and horror novels come from the 18th century novel.

Gothic literature can be considered the product of a world which was conscious of social inequity, since the bourgeoisie began to understand its conditions.
Therefore this kind of literature can be regarded as a reaction against industrialisation; it could be seen also as a description of a fallen world.

The individual had virtually limitless potential, and terror was one way of realizing some of that potential; there could be intense feelings, explorations of forbidden or denied areas.

The setting is greatly influential in Gothic novels and creates an atmosphere of horror and fear; usual settings were like isolated castles, mysterious abbeys and convents with hidden passages, dungeons and secret rooms.
There is always a protagonist, usually isolated, and a heroine tormented by unreal terrors and persecuted by a villain, who’s the personification of evil.

Characteristics of the Gothic novel:
• Importance given to terror and horror;
• Darkness as the favourite setting in time;
• Characters dominated by exaggerated reactions;
• Heroines running in terror from villains;
• Sensitive heroes who save heroines;
• Supernatural beings, like ghosts, vampires, monsters;
• Catholic countries, as the setting of terrible crimes;
• Ancient setting, like isolated castles.

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