Gothic Tropes: Madness

Madness is the monster that lurks inside our own minds. And in some ways, it is the most terrifying monster of all. Its intangibility means that it cannot be fought, and its irrational nature makes it nearly impossible to understand. Perhaps this is why insanity crops up as one of the most common themes in Gothic literature. I present it in this post as one trope, but madness is explored in many different ways in both the victims and the villains of Gothic literature, and the way it is presented has changed over time. Continue reading Gothic Tropes: Madness

Gothic Tropes: The Creepy Housekeeper

It goes without saying that one of the defining characteristics of Gothic fiction is a creepy setting—a castle falling into ruin, a haunted manor, or some mist-covered moors. But what’s a creepy setting without some creepy inhabitants? One of the most iconic of these, particularly in mansions and manors, is the creepy housekeeper. The creepy housekeeper is usually an older woman with personal ties to the manor itself or its previous inhabitants. Her primary role is generally to make the young female protagonist feel anxious and out of place as a newcomer and to provide either threats or warnings of danger.

Mrs Danvers screetshot 1
Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers looms behind the nameless narrator in Hitchcock’s Rebecca.

Continue reading Gothic Tropes: The Creepy Housekeeper

Is Sherlock Goth???—Detective Fiction and the Gothic

Is Sherlock goth???

(I stumbled on this lovely image by @Pencil_Fangirl on Instagram)
(I stumbled on this lovely image by @Pencil_Fangirl on Instagram)

I talk a lot about how modern horror fiction and paranormal romance have descended from the classic Gothic novel. Well, detective stories are yet another example of a popular genre that rose up from this immensely fecund area of fiction. Many of the earliest detective stories were written by authors of Gothic fiction, or otherwise incorporated Gothic elements. In fact, detective fiction is a relatively young genre, and its origin is generally accredited to one of the greatest gothy patriarchs of all—Edgar Allan Poe. Continue reading Is Sherlock Goth???—Detective Fiction and the Gothic