Gothic vocabulary


A Levels English Literature Flashcards on Gothic vocabulary, created by lizzie.lambrou on 09/04/2014.
Flashcards by lizzie.lambrou, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by lizzie.lambrou almost 10 years ago

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Transgression An act that goes against a law, rule, or code of conduct, i.e. Macbeth killing the king, Victor creating the creature and Faustus selling his soul to the devil. Gothic explores fear of barbarism, of unleashing human passion beyond social constraints. Gothic’s operation as a literature of the unconscious, of transgressive desires.
The Sublime An overpowering sense of the greatness and power of nature, which can be uplifting, awe-inspiring and terrifying, caused by experience of beauty, vastness or grandeur. Sublime moments lead us to consider the place of humanity in the universe, and the power exhibited in the world. We see an example of Gothic usurpation of a Romantically sublime space in the monster's interruption of Victor's Alpine reveries in Frankenstein.
The Uncanny The uncanny is a sense of fear aroused by superstitions that had previously been thought false being proved real. Freud describes it as the awakening of childhood fears or primitive beliefs held by ancestors that, having been rationally proved impossible, are brought up again in an uncanny incident. Another key concept of Freud’s uncanny is the blurring of the lines between human and inhuman, in objects like robots and puppets. The concept deals mainly with the idea of the familiar becoming unfamiliar, doubles, or repetitions of the same thing, and the lifelike qualities of inanimate objects, such as dolls or houses. All of these things tend to relate to the idea of things that we, as human beings, assumed we knew becoming unknown to us or foreign and thus becoming frightening.
The Grotesque The grotesque simultaneously disgusts and arouses . The reader becomes piqued by the grotesque's positive side, and continues reading to see if the character can conquer their darker side. The creature in Frankenstein can be considered grotesque. The romantic grotesque is far more terrible and sombre than the medieval grotesque, so the creature is presented more sympathetically as the outsider who is the victim of society. But the novel also makes the issue of sympathy problematic in an unkind society. This means that society becomes the generator of the grotesque, by a process of alienation.
The Other The gothic anxiety about the monstrous “Other” is fore-grounded when the apparent simplicity of the self/other relationship as a clear binary breaks down into something more complex under close examination. The self experiences immense fear, not only towards the failure of containment of the “other”, but also in having identified latent similarities between itself and its evil twin. As noted in Chapter Two, Victor Frankenstein fears most what he cannot control -- that part of himself most closely allied to his monster. Each of his attempts to seize control fails; each failure contributes to his fear. That which Victor fears yet toward which he is obsessively drawn has been usefully outlined by Nietzsche as a dichotomy between Apollo and Dionysus (binary of Apollonian/Dionysian), that is, between rational thought and everything that escapes or exceeds rationality. As Victor discovered, what exceeds rationality appears monstrous.
Incarceration A claustrophobic sense of enclosure and entrapment, geographically, existentially and socially. Isolation and introversion. Locked doors, prisons, clandestine Victoriana, bedrooms, boudoirs, secrets and lies, confinement of repression and denial. Domestic interiors become prisons. Borders and boundaries. Price of liberty/freedom = external vigilance. Classification, compartmentalising of knowledge. In Macbeth there is a sense of incarceration created by most of the scenes taking place inside the dark castle
Paranoia A mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions and the projection of personal conflicts, which are ascribed to the supposed hostility of others, sometimes progressing to disturbances of consciousness and aggressive acts believed to be performed in self-defense or as a mission. Used to describe a mode of narrative in Gothic literature, certain critics align it with the 'male' Gothic 'horror'. Macbeth is a prime example of a paranoid character.
Gynophobia Extreme or irrational fear of women. Some critics argue that Victor experiences this, illustrated in his dream about Elizabeth and when he destroys the female creature.
The Occult Mystical, supernatural, or magical powers, practices, or phenomena (devil worship and wotnot). Applies to all three texts, particularly Faustus. Using natural or white magic, an occultist may divine the workings of the universe; or may influence the course of events to personal ends through black or malefic magic, arguably Faustus begins with the first intention but ends up with the latter
Metamorphosis 1. A transformation, as by magic or sorcery, 2. A marked change in appearance, character, condition, or function. Faustus: Rafe and Robin get turned into a dog and an ape. Macbeth can be said to metamorphose from a noble warrior to a tyrant.
Chiaroscuro A literary device that displays the juxtaposition of light and shade. In Faustus, this is displayed through the good and evil angel (morality play stock characters), Mephistopheles and the Old Man. It's more ambigious in Frankenstein, as the reader is not certain who represents light and who represents shade.
Alienation A state of depersonalization or loss of identity in which the self seems unreal, thought to be caused by difficulties in relating to society and the resulting prolonged inhibition of emotion. The genre’s interest in identity and subjectivity, but of an alienated self, set apart from society. Victor alienates himself bare, and the creature is alienated from society
Claustrophobia Use of small spaces in Gothic literature can represent helplessness, forthcoming calamity, entrapment, “emotional repression,” and “premature burial.” All of these negative associations with claustrophobia add to the motifs of insecurity, uncertainty, suspense, foreshadowing, and tragic fate that are often present in Gothic literature. When Victor creates the creature, he describes his workshop as "a solitary chamber, or rather cell", this claustrophobic atmosphere aludes to Victor's doomed fate
Subterranean Underground - "subterranean passages" add to the sense of claustrophobic confinement
Liminality Liminality is a significant element of Gothic literature, and comes from the Latin word 'limen', meaning 'threshold'. And, as the translation suggests, it refers to someone or something being on a boundary between two things - often two extremes. It's like a transitory, 'in-between' state between two things. Manuel Aguirre (Liminal Terror: The Poetics of Gothic Space), a literary critic, cites liminality as a defining feature of Gothic literature.
Voyeurism The compulsion to seek sexual gratification by secretively looking at sexual objects or acts. The Gothic explores acts that are deemed "immoral"
Melodrama A melodrama is a dramatic work that exaggerates plot and characters in order to appeal to the emotions, often with strongly stereotyped characters. Melodrama features throughout Doctor Faustus, depicted in the characters of Lucifer and the Old Man, and the Good and Evil angels. The plot is also exaggerated in order to emphasise the moral
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