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Introduction to the Gothic: Gothic Motifs – Lesson Summary

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Gothic Fiction
Gothic fiction, which is largely known by the subgenre of Gothic horror, is a genre or mode of literature and film that combines fiction and horror, death, and at times romance.

Origin of the Gothic
Gothic fiction began as a sophisticated joke. Horace Walpole first applied the word 'Gothic' to a novel in the subtitle 'A Gothic Story' of The Castle of Otranto, published in 1764. When he used the word it meant something like 'barbarous', as well as 'deriving from the Middle Ages.

Gothic Genre and its Elements
Set in a haunted castle or house
A damsel in distress
An atmosphere of mystery and suspense
Ghost or Monster
Nightmares
Crypt
Catacomb

Gothic Terror and Horror
Terror is usually described as the feeling of dread and anticipation that precedes the horrifying experience. By contrast, Horror is the feeling of revulsion that usually follows a frightening sight, sound, or otherwise experience.

So, in terms of Gothic Terror, it is supposed to kind of increase the human experience and it is supposed to turn the human imagination into something which can have an access to the higher degree of life and Gothic horror, on the contrary, is supposed to kind of confine human experience, it is supposed to kind of freeze the human soul and in fact, nearly kind of destroy the good side of the human soul and being.

Gothic Fear and Foreboding
The fear in a traditional Gothic novel is not only produced by that which really scares the readers as well as the character involved in the Gothic plot, such as the darkness of the underground passageways in Otranto’s castle when the maiden’s lamp is accidentally extinguished.

But it is that foreboding the sense that the kind of magnifies, expands the dangers. So, Isabella is really frightened by her fate of what could happen to her if she was caught by Manfred in that darkness.