The Gothic Novel was founded by Horace Walpole and it is a genre which took inspiration from the idea of Sublime, like the romantic poetry, where darkness, mysterious atmosphere and fear dominate
It is a reference to the medieval architecture style, the Goth:
- it had set in the Middle Ages, possibly in Catholic countries (Italy, Spain and France) in fact there was prejudices from protestant countries to the catholic ones because they were places where the Church and the Papacy committed incredible crimes like the Inquisition in the Years of Terror. All this terrible actions were seen favorable for the medieval atmosphere.
To improve this sense of fear another typical places where the stories develop was:
-castles founded on dungeons and full of secret passages
-medieval Abbeys
The psychological analysis of characters is not important yet:
- the innocent girl
- the villain who generally persecutes the innocent girl
- the Gothic hero who has to save the girl. He’s generally handsome and dark, with brown hair. His origins are unknown, sometimes we happened to know that he’s aristocratic.

At the beginning the hero behaves as a villain and apparently his actions are bad, then there is the find out that he is the actual hero, but only in the end.
There are many characters that derives from the Gothic hero like the Byronic hero or Dorian Gray.

The overreacher
The first overreacher of mythology was Prometheus who stole the fire from the Gods to give it to men. Prometheus was a figure greatly loved by the romantics. (Percy Byshe Shelley wrote a poem intitoled “Prometheus Unbound”)

The double
- two people, one the contrary of the other
-two people with similar attitudes
-double personality of the same person

The creator of this genre, Horace Walpole, wrote a novel called the “Castle of Otranto” where you can find all the Gothic elements:
-the castle
-the Italian city
-set in the Middle Ages
-the supernatural element (is a mysterious helmet that can fly and lands on a person killing him in the story, you don’t know where it comes from because is unexplained and this adds mystery to the story)
This genre was incredibly appreciated by women and science fiction, detective story and horror story derives from it.
A woman in particular, Ann Radcliffe wrote this stories in this period adopting all the elements of the gothic novels but in the end she always explained the mystery and supernatural elements of the novel in a rational way founding the typical technique of the detective story.

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