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Analysis Of Gothic Literature Dracula English Literature Essay

2511 words (10 pages) Essay in English Literature

5/12/16 English Literature Reference this

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The book Dracula by Bram Stoker is about an assistant real estate agent Jonathan Harker, who travels to the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania to arrange a real estate deal with a Count Dracula, who lives in an ancient medieval castle. When the count sees a picture of Harker’s fiancée Mina, he tells Jonathan Harker to write to her, saying that he will stay on for a couple of weeks longer. While Jonathon is locked up in the castle, the count travels to London to meet Mina, whom he believes is the reincarnation of his wife, a princess who committed suicide. He then imprisons Jonathon in his castle, where he is nearly killed by Dracula’s insatiable, bloodthirsty brides.

Dracula travels to London and gradually works his spell on Mina, coming ever closer to seducing her. He meets opposition, however, from Jonathon, who escapes, and Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, who knows Dracula, is a vampire and also knows how to defeat him. With the help of the group of Jonathan, Van Helsing and Quincy they work on trying to destroy Draculas coffin the place in which Dracula has to rest.

There are many gothic elements in this text which are used to create the gothic nature of the text as well as provide a gothic effect on the whole text. A few of the gothic effects in this novel give the creation of feelings or gloom, mystery and suspense, which as Jonathon shows by his description of the doors which were “all locked”, and this creates the gothic effect of mystery which represents hidden secrets and the underlying tone of the nature of the gothic text. These are also used as symbols in the gothic genre as memories and portals/paths from one place to another.

In addition to this a very claustrophobic feeling is created as we read, ‘stone stairs to the hall’, Jonathon Harker roaming down the corridors matches another gothic element. Dungeons, underground passages, crypts and catacombs were common features indicating the gothic genre and are used to create the gothic nature of the book. Similarly, the first mention of the word, ‘castle’ instantly tells us that gothic features is going to be present in the novel as these create a key idea of the features of many of the gothic literature created. This is most likely to do with the fact that castles hold a lot of history, thus allowing the author to build up a haunting and ghostly atmosphere.

Language techniques such as the use of descriptive language like extreme landscapes such as ‘great jagged mountain’ and ‘sheer rock studded with mountain’ is another gothic convention it takes normality out of the sequence in a way, it creates an unknown vast scene which in itself causes emptiness and intimidation and shows the elements as well as the nature of the gothic text. A sense of isolation and coldness, ‘dread loneliness’ and ‘chilled my heart’ builds up tension and fear – cold makes us freeze and the idea of being paralysed with fear can be adopted in this sense.


The gothic nature of the text is seen with many of the gothic techniques throughout the book such as the repetition of ‘rising’ creates a vast distance, once again emphasising on isolation, imprisonment and creates a sense of social separation from the outside world.

Throughout this novel there are many different gothic clichés which include the mentioning of ‘moonlight’, and having a small source of light such as ‘a lamp’. These features show the evidence of the gothic elements which help to interlink with the gothic genre because it crosses boundaries, it is the usual symbolism of representing light versus the dark side.

Finally a sense of decaying also adds to the gothic elements where in this context, when we read, ‘hinges had fallen somewhat’ is close to indicating that the place is old, rusty and rather run-down. This arises an atmosphere of historical and mystery which gives the impressions of the unknown environment. So throughout the novel with the use of language techniques it is seen that the literature is in fact of gothic genre and the feelings and emotions felt in this novel through the use of gothic literature helped to create the effects throughout the novel.

In the context of gothic literature has created a very moving novel with the elements of gothic literature creating the feel of the scene, the characters and the settings. The use of the dim lamp and moonlight being a source of light and the use of hinges, rusty and worn down give the unnerving feeling a gothic text has to create the context and shape the novel in the way it has been shaped. The use of old rusty hinges gives the items which people would rather not think about and would prefer to think otherwise on much more light hearted things, but in the gothic genre the feeling is not suppressed and is given to the content of the novel to give the overall feeling of a gothic novel.

The setting is mysterious and unknown where many people didn’t venture during the time of the writing of this novel. The Carpathian Mountains Transylvania gives the eerie feeling for the reader in order to give the gothic feel towards the text.

Text 2: The Conqueror Worm by Edgar Allan Poe

This poem by Edgar Allan Poe is poem about life in which we live in being a stage in the universe like a theatre where we are human actors who perform in front of an audience of Angels who know that even before the performance starts the result will end in deaths. In result of this the angels wear veils and cry as the music plays the sounds of nature such as wind, rain, hail, snow where at this moment the show begins. The actors are mimes pretending to be godlike, for they believe themselves to be superior beings-images of perfection. But the actors are far from perfect as they run to and from the phantom which is symbolised as the dreams and hopes of the people, they also fall victim to the temptations of life represented as demons with flapping wings.

As the humans are chasing the phantom or their dreams the run in a circular motion representing the earth and always ending up where they started. In attempting to catch the phantom and thereby fulfil their dreams-perhaps dreams for pleasure, success, fame, or power-they commit sin; their life becomes madness and horror. While they chase the phantom, a blood-red crawling thing comes onstage; writhing with hunger pangs, and consumes the entire company of actors, dripping blood from its fangs. The lights go out, the curtain falls, and the angels rise to leave. Finally after witnessing a tragedy the play called “Man”, they find the hero who is the conqueror worm who is the symbolisation of death, which in other words shows that inevitably everyone will die.

Throughout this poem there are many gothic elements which relate to the way in which the poet uses to convey his ideas. One example of this is the use of imagery such as the veil and the use of muttering and mumbling which give a very stern and gloomy visual effect which is one of the main features of gothic literature. Also the use of language techniques such as the repetition of “writhes” which is another example of gothic literature this shows the violent twisting and turning of the body which gives an uncomfortable feel to audience which then shows the evidence of being a gothic text.

The other features evident in this poem by Edgar Allan Poe furthermore provide the idea of a gothic text by the use of many language techniques and the use of symbolism in his writing with the use of techniques such as repetition and symbolism the author, Edgar Allan Poe uses these to eventually create the gothic feel in this poem.

It writhes! – It writhes! – With mortal pangs

The mimes become its foods,

And the angels sob at vermin fangs

In human gore imbued.

In this line it sets the stage of a spirit going crazy in a coffin. They try to find any hope, but they themselves know that there is no hope. Fate takes hold and the phantom arrives where the man is tragically. These language techniques help the audience view the gothic features which help to give the sombre visual ideas and the struggle that the people on the stage are going through. Edgar Allan Poe also refers to themes of horror in this poem such as the watching of your own corpse decay until one day being released for judgement, this also brings out the inner meaning of this text which shows the audience that there is no point living a life and watching it go by because inevitably everyone on the planet earth will eventually die. This negative approach is present in many gothic texts and is apparent to be seen with the gothic idea with the view of the gothic genre being one of horror negativity and medieval gloomy atmosphere.

The above lines also detach ourselves from everything earthly to show how generation after generation the spectre will eventually see humanity, body and individuals slowly fall into decay. During the last part of the poem the angels say, “That the play is the tragedy ‘Man,’ and its hero the Conqueror Worm.” This implies a religious aspect towards the poem implying that God ensures that we lose all the burdens which we hold in the past and that the worm will help us obtain our place in heaven.

With the use of all these techniques language and visual this poem has been shaped by the context in which it has been created with the use of symbolism and language which both provide a gothic atmosphere creating the feel of the poem, characters and the settings. This use of the Angels watching precariously over society as if we were a show and the repetition of “writhes” both give the gothic feeling which creates the context and shape of the poem The use of “writhes” gives the idea of a violent and unbearable experience which is again as stated in the previous analysis as the things in which we would rather not think about as it is not very light hearted and usually provides stress when thinking about it, but these are the characteristics of the gothic genre in which this poem stands.

The view back on the Angels being a light source the over rulers of the world and the world being the dark and sombre place where humans lay and decayed is another example of the gothic genre. The comparison between light and dark is also a major feature of the gothic genre and creates the context in which this poem has been created in the gothic genre.

Text 3: The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe

The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe starts with an injured narrator seeking refuge in an abandoned mansion in the Apennines, with no explanation for his wound. After the admiring of the strangely decorated work in the weird shaped room and criticizing the paintings, he eventually discovers a painting which looks as if it was real; he refers to it as “absolute life-likeliness of expression”. After spending approximately an hour looking at the painting “for an hour, perhaps” he stares until he cannot bear to look at the painting which he then looks at the book for an explanation

The story then continues by looking at the remainder of the story which is discussing how the painting was created which is basically a story within a story. It further explains that the picture was actually painted by an unusual artist who is depicting his young wife, but he has created an overly exaggerated obsession with his painting to the point that he had not paid any attention to the women he was actually painting.

Finally when he finishes the painting he becomes discussed with his painting and appalled by his own work and exclaims, “This is indeed Life itself!” He then looks to find his bride, and discovers that she has died and her spirit and her have been turned into the life like painting. This short story reminded me of the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde which also had the context of a human being transferred to the life of a painting.

The gothic elements in this short story are evident with the location, the suspense, and the feeling of richness, the foreignness of the setting to give the gothic feel towards this text. The elements which are clearly evident in this short story of the gothic genre are the one of a tragic romance and the large use of candles.

“She was a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more lovely than full of glee. And evil was the hour when she saw, and loved, and wedded the painter.”

The use of evil and the underlying story that the painter works so hard but in the end loses what he really cares for in life. He exclaims in this quote that his wife it the maiden of rarest beauty. This shows his love and devotion to her. The classic gothic atmosphere is also lit by candlelight and the eerie atmosphere of mystery arises as the audience does not hear from the wife for a long part of the short story. The painter then continues his high amount of work, “the painter, took glory in his work, which went on from hour to hour, and from day to day.” This shows the time consuming effort which the painter went through to paint the picture of his beloved wife.

The gothic features are further enhanced with the language techniques provided in the text such as the use of synonyms and adverbs, “glanced at the painting hurriedly” this gives the audience the idea of a quick moving action which referring to gothic literature shows the idea of the gloomy squishy life style in which gothic literature revolves around.

With the use of all these techniques language and visual this poem has been shaped by the context in which it has been created with the use of symbolism and language which both provide a gothic atmosphere creating the feel of the poem, characters and the settings. The use of the delaying of time “the painter, took glory in his work, which went on from hour to hour, and from day to day,” gives the gothic feeling which creates the context and shape of the poem.

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