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I don't get it - how is The Bloody Chamber a gothic text?

Discussion in 'English' started by chocolateheaven, May 11, 2012.

  1. chocolateheaven

    chocolateheaven New commenter

    I'm helping a friend prepare for LitB3, having never taught AQA Lit for Alevel, and I simply don't understand the connection between this text and the title of the paper ie Elements of Gothic. I see that the titular story has connections, but others in the collection? Can anyone offer any help or clarity here? Am I missing something crucial? I see the text as feminist, as almost Marxist, but Gothic? Please help!
     
  2. chocolateheaven

    chocolateheaven New commenter

    I'm helping a friend prepare for LitB3, having never taught AQA Lit for Alevel, and I simply don't understand the connection between this text and the title of the paper ie Elements of Gothic. I see that the titular story has connections, but others in the collection? Can anyone offer any help or clarity here? Am I missing something crucial? I see the text as feminist, as almost Marxist, but Gothic? Please help!
     
  3. Gothic literature is part of a genre generally considered to have been started by Walpole's publication of The Castle of Otranto in 1765, and quickly picked up by writers such as Mrs Radcliffe in the latter part of the 18th century.[​IMG]
     
  4. manc

    manc New commenter

    Let's all say it - all together, children:
    "Gothic literature is part of a genre generally considered to have been started by Walpole's publication of The Castle of Otranto in 1765, and quickly picked up by writers such as Mrs Radcliffe in the latter part of the 18th century"
    It's quite catchy isn't it?
     
  5. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Thanks all, but why is it called gothic? I*'m trying to link it in my mind with goths and architecture.
     
  6. The woman are always running round in great big, draughty castles which were perceived by writers and reader in the 18th century as Gothic. There's also a bit of anti0enlightenment stuff going on, with the middle ages being portrayed as a place where magic and superstition could still exist unlike in the "modern" world where reason was king. The Blood Chamber is Gothic through and through - vulnerable woman, predatory man, the sexual versus the innocent, great big, draughty castle...Carter does twist the conventions, though. If you're looking for background on Carter, Marina Warner has written some excellent yet accessible essays on her work.
     
  7. seaviews

    seaviews New commenter

    <font size="4" face="Times New Roman"><font size="4" face="Times New Roman">Gothicism is a literary genre characterized by elements of horror, supernatural

    occurrences, gloom, and violence. An isolated castle, a feeling of terror created by a
    </font>mterious and vengeful husband, and the discovery of the narrator's three butchered

    predecessors are all emblematic of a gothic story. Much of Carter's writing is cast in

    this vein, in which the protagonist's dread is an essential element. The author's

    detailed, flowery descriptions of the castle and its mysterious rooms and the

    psychological terror instilled in the young bride, an innocent trapped in a situation she

    cannot control, also contribute to the gothic mode of the story.
    </font>
     
  8. seaviews

    seaviews New commenter

  9. chocolateheaven

    chocolateheaven New commenter

    Thanks Seaviews. I can see how it fits for The Bloody Chamber, and some of the other stories in the collection. Just not all of them, especially not Puss in Boots. Wondering whether I'm missing something in that story, and if not, whether I should advise her to avoid writing about it in the exam.
     
  10. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Thank you all, but I still haven't been told why it's called Gothic. Everyone [myself included] knows what is meant by a Gothic novel. I know full well that I could do a google, but this is more fun.
     
  11. I did. It's the link to the middle ages, known as Gothic, which is the time when people thought the superstitious stuff that that happens in the original gothic novel was rife - mad monks, ghosts, all that stuff.
     
  12. seaviews

    seaviews New commenter

    It's called gothic because it does all the things a gothic text should do. AND it subverts that genre too by doing other things besides. At A2 it's worth mentioning what else it is besides gothic ... ie fairy tale, romance, Romantic.
    This is what a gothic text should do ...
    https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/Gothic-Literature-PowerPoint-6006789/
     
  13. chocolateheaven

    chocolateheaven New commenter

    Seaviews - please could you answer my question quoted above? I started the thread to try and get an answer to this - I know what a Gothic text is, and understand how some of the stories fit into it (despite other people diverting the thread into these areas), but am questioning how the text as a whole ie all 10 stories demonstrate gothic features, or whether a student would be better to focus on those that are gothic, and not those that are less so. I still haven't been able to get an answer to this.
     
  14. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    I have marked this paper. It's 'Elements of the gothic' as mentioned upthread. Students are required to discuss how any text conforms or doesn't. It is not necessary to focus on texts which appear to be purely gothic.
    'Macbeth' is not a gothic text. Neither is 'Dr Faustus'. I'm afraid I've forgotten which other texts your student is studying, but no set text, with the possible exception of 'Dracula' is purely gothic.
     
  15. chocolateheaven

    chocolateheaven New commenter

    Brilliant, thank you Gruoch. Really helpful. She's doing Bloody Chamber, Faustus, Paradise Lost and Frankenstein. It's only really BC that I'm not certain how to approach. Do you think that Puss in Boots contains any elements of Gothic? Glad that it doesn't matter though.
    Can I ask, as a marker, if the essay in section A is "depiction of male characters in BC" or "presentation of Evil in Paradise Lost" is it essential that the student makes reference to how the tests conform/subvert gothic conventions? She's shown me an essay she's written for her teacher, that she abandoned as she didn't feel confident about it and she wants my opinion on the start. I feel like she's trying too hard to write about the gothic rather than actually answering the task asked - is that something that I'm right to comment on, or something that they have to do for this module?
     
  16. Sorry, chocolate heaven, when you mentioned it I thought you meant the story not the collection.
     
  17. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    That's easy - answer the question. Make a note of all the key words and make sure you address them.A question about male characters needs to address the idea of the male in the gothic, but that isn't the focus of the question as presented. Likewise evil in PL. A candidate needs to demonstrate understanding of the gothic as a genre, but that can be implicit in the response.
     
  18. K.Wellborne

    K.Wellborne New commenter

    I think this is key- answer the question first and if it's appropriate to bring in The Gothic then do. As an examiner, I see good candidates faff about with defining the gothic when they should just get their teeth into the question.
     
  19. Vampires abound?
     
  20. The answer to your question is in the unit title ELEMENTS of the Gothic - gothic literature is characterised by features such as the supernatural, isolation and desolation, desolate landscapes, fear (it evokes fear in the reader), defiance of God or the natural order, the juxtaposition of the terrible and the sublime, menace and a sinister atmosphere. As pointed out by a another poster, the texts on the syllabus are not examples of the Gothic literary movement which began in the late eighteenth century; some of the texts precede it, but contain elements of the gothic tradition. This can be seen in Shakespeare and Marlowe which precede Gothic by some hundred of years. The use of fear, supernatural, desolate landscapes and settings
    The Bloody Chamber stories often use gothic features eg desolate landscapes, conventional gothic settings and motifs eg moonlight, darkness, moors etc; they use the supernatural, eg the werewolves, the evoke fear in the reader and the language often deployed has powerful connotations of gothic. Angela Carter is a feminist writer, but she has deployed many of the conventions of gothic literature, with a twist and sometimes subverted in order to convey her message, values and ideas on the soical order and gender politics in a way which draws attention to the folly of inequality in an entertaining, thought provoking and sometimes subversive way. Her use of folklore and fairytale, with a gothic twist is innovative and highly political. Pure genius.

    Hope this begins to help.
     

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