Screening the Gothic

Screening the Gothic

Screening the Gothic

Screening the Gothic

Excerpt

What is the Gothic? In literary studies, the term is generally applied primarily to a body of writing produced in England between about 1750 and about 1820. Often set in ancient, partially ruined castles or mansions haunted by the real or apparent threat of a supernatural presence, its cast of characters typically includes a mysterious and threatening older man, a vulnerable heroine, and a character who is poised ambiguously between good and evil. Although early Gothic novels were often set abroad, the sense of unease and the obsession with doubling that characterise the form also typically include the fear that it also had something profound to say about the reader's own condition. Its principal characteristics are a concern with the fragmented and often doubled nature of the self—Robert Miles remarks that [in its inarticulate way, Gothic worries over a problem stirring within the foundations of the self] —and a concentration on the gloomy, the mysterious, and the ruined:

Gothic signifies a writing of excess. It appears in the awful obscu
rity that haunted eighteenth-century rationality and morality. It shad
ows the despairing ecstasies of Romantic idealism and individualism
and the uncanny dualities of Victorian realism and decadence. Gothic
atmospheres—gloomy and mysterious—have repeatedly signalled the
disturbing return of pasts upon presents and evoked emotions of terror
and laughter. 2

Many of these characteristics are present in the films which I discuss in this book and label [Gothic,] but I shall be suggesting that, above all, the classic genre marker of the Gothic in film is doubleness, for it is the dualities typically created by the Gothic that invest it with its uncanny ability to hold its darkly shadowed mirror up to its own age.

Fittingly enough, this emphasis on doubling: can work in two ways.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.