Consider the Influence of Gothic Fiction Upon Pre 20th Century and 20th Century Texts Essay Example
Consider the Influence of Gothic Fiction Upon Pre 20th Century and 20th Century Texts Essay Example

Consider the Influence of Gothic Fiction Upon Pre 20th Century and 20th Century Texts Essay Example

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  • Pages: 7 (1767 words)
  • Published: October 16, 2017
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This essay aims to compare and discuss the influence of gothic elements in 'The Red Room' by H. G. Wells, 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte and 'I'm the King of the Castle' by Susan Hill. Gothic fiction, a genre that prevailed in English literature from the late 18th century to the early 19th century, typically featured ruined gothic castles or abbeys as settings. The gothic novel emphasized mystery and horror, often incorporating ghost-filled rooms, underground passages, and hidden stairways.

The term Gothic is used to refer to narrative prose or poetry that prominently features violence, horror, and the supernatural. Although Jane Eyre, written in 1846, deviates from the typical gothic novel, it possesses a subtle allure that captivates readers. Jane herself is enigmatic, with profound emotions and sentiments. Additionally, Jane Eyre has served as an in


spiration for numerous authors, including H. G. Wells and Susan Hill. Having endured a challenging childhood as a precocious and defiant orphan, Jane learns to withstand mistreatment and disdain from her aunt and cousins. She evolves into a confident and independent woman who fearlessly follows her passions and discovers love with Mr Rochester. During her adolescence, Jane possessed a thirst for knowledge and a desire to explore the world; however, her intellect was condemned by her relatives at Gateshead Hall, leading to her confinement in the Red Room as though she were her own prisoner. Mrs Reed and Jane's cousins regarded her as an outsider who did not belong at Gateshead; they saw her as an unworthy individual - nothing more than a destitute and plain orphan who faced their dislike and bullying.

Jane's situation and depression are often reflected in the

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narration, as she talks about the books she engages with. These books accurately mirror her mood in the house, with phrases like 'desolate coast,' 'cold and ghastly moon,' and 'haunted and quite solitary churchyard' evoking the atmosphere of Gateshead hall. The Red Room is a crucial theme in all three texts, as it embodies the gothic fiction genre. In Jane Eyre, it allows the reader to comprehend Jane's thoughts and true identity. As a superstitious and passionate child, she experiences ordinary fears like any normal child, and her confinement in the Red Room provides Bront? an opportunity to showcase this. The Red Room is a fearsome and enigmatic place, associated with death. Mr. Reed's death in the same chamber haunts her in the dark, chilling, and silent atmosphere of the 'seldom slept chamber.' The room is filled with mahogany and 'crimson cloth,' with shades that 'glared white' against a pale throne, intensifying her sense of being trapped amidst death, doom, and gloom. The dark reds only serve to deepen her terror and bring forth depression and darkness during her stay in the room.

In the initial chapters of Jane Eyre, the Red Room stands out as the sole element of gothic, which adds an extra layer to Jane's story. Bront?recognizes the significance of gothic elements in previous classics and modernizes it to resonate with Jane's compelling and emotional tale. Bront?'s descriptions of ghostly aspects throughout Jane Eyre demonstrate her influence from authors like Mary Shelley and Horace Walpole. Charlotte Bront?'s gothic elements serve as inspiration for the eerie atmosphere present in Warings and Well's Red Room. Written in a similar vein, the Red Room captivates readers

through terrifying descriptions of spiritual terrors in the haunted room, characterized by words like decaying, withered, grotesque, monstrous, and ghostly. In this ghostly narrative, Wells employs fear to engage readers, as the unknown and unexplored always prove to be thrilling and captivating. Like Bront?, Wells chooses nighttime as the most opportune moment to unveil the true nature of the Red Room, heightening its mysterious and daunting nature.The text highlights the elements of horror in the room. The darkness, shadows, echoes, and absolute silence create an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. This fear is reminiscent of blindness, as we do not know what lies beneath. Wells drew inspiration from horrifying novels like Frankenstein to emphasize the perceived dangers of the Red Room.

The most intimidating aspect of it was the uncertainty of what would occur. It was an unfamiliar situation for the man, and the reader was drawn into his experience of the room for the first time. Bront? and Wells use gothic elements in their works, including ghosts, darkness, and silence. In Jane Eyre, there are frequent accounts of local folklore and fairytales that involve ghosts and sprites. However, Hill's use of gothic elements is more subtly incorporated. One of Hill's most well-known books is I'm the King of the Castle, published in 1970. It received praise for its powerful story about the inherent cruelty in childhood innocence. This theme closely relates to Jane's mistreatment by her cousins as a child. John treated her with such brutality and hatred that it seemed almost unbelievable for a child to lack innocence to such an extent.

The author Hill has clearly studied children's behavior and recognized the hidden

potential for evil conduct. Much like in the novel "I'm the King of the Castle" by Bront?, the contrast between the natural environment of fields, woods, and weather with the artificial presence of Warings creates an atmosphere of mystery. The setting impacts and mirrors the characters' emotions. The gloomy atmosphere of Warings parallels the unfortunate lives of the Hoopers. The presence of yew trees, which are associated with death, deepens the morbid feeling within Warings. The Red Room, with its dark wooden paneling and staircases, and the attic filled with decaying objects all contribute to the negative impact on Kingshaw. This extensive use of the natural environment in the hang wood episode not only allows Hill to reveal new aspects of both boys but also adds tension and uncertainty to the plot. Similar to authors Bront? and Wells, Hill generates fear through the setting. Warings is portrayed as an isolated and desolate "ugly" house, characterized by its tall, badly angled structure made of dark red brick and its separation from the village of Derne.

The Red Room, like in Jane Eyre, is associated with death, specifically with dead and decaying moths kept in glass cabinets by Hooper's deceased grandfather. Hooper's father forbade him from entering the room, which only heightened his curiosity and made the reader wonder what could be so dreadful about a single room. Similar to Wells, the author uses the unknown to instill fear in the reader. In I'm the King of the Castle, death is a prominent theme, along with fear, hatred, evil, failure, and disappointment. Hooper strongly resembles John from Jane Eyre; Hill and Wells were both heavily influenced by Bront?'s

work and incorporated elements from Jane Eyre in their own unique ways to achieve different effects successfully. Both authors center their gothic themes around a dark, haunted, and terrifying room. Hill recognizes the power of isolation and employs it to separate Kingshaw from his peers and the adults, as he is different and elicits sympathy from the reader. Wells grasps the importance of vivid description and uses it to his advantage, effectively manipulating the reader's sense of security in the "chilly, echoing passage." Isolation, as mentioned before, is a prevalent theme in all three texts, particularly in Jane Eyre and I'm the King of the Castle. Death and isolation appear in two or three of these texts and serve as the foundation for most fears experienced by both the characters and the readers.

Both Jane Eyre and Kingshaw experience fear and loneliness in their respective rooms. Jane's room represents her depression and confinement, while Kingshaw's room traps him in an environment he detests. Jane's maltreatment as a child is compounded by her isolation, unable to communicate with children her age or express her opinions. The doctor's occasional visits offer little solace. Likewise, Kingshaw is terrified by the eerie atmosphere and is locked in the Red Room by Hooper. When a crow attacks him, he has no one to turn to for help. With no father figure in his life, his emotional struggles are evident, particularly when faced with nightmares and dead animals.

He has numerous experiences with isolation, feeling trapped in Warings with no one to relate to or look up to. He holds resentment towards Mr. Hooper, viewing him as a father figure. On multiple occasions,

Hooper locks him up in the shed, the Red Room, and forces his company in Hang wood, greatly irritating him. This constant confinement makes him feel claustrophobic and fearful of Hooper. However, isolation does not only affect Kingshaw; Hooper himself possesses a critical and negative nature. He lacks warmth and affection, partially due to the loss of his mother. Despite mocking Kingshaw for being overly attached to his mother and claiming that fathers are superior, his outburst of "Mummy! Mummy!" reveals his own inner insecurity caused by her absence. Emotionally deprived and isolated, he compensates by lashing out at those around him. He also resents his father's frequent absence, resulting in loneliness while living in Warings. Isolated from the outside world in a vast, unfamiliar, and ominous house in the middle of nowhere without a mother or any true friends.

In conclusion, Gothic fiction has had a significant influence on various authors, including those I have studied. The more contemporary author Susan Hill has approached the gothic elements in her own unique way, making them more relevant to the modern world. Her focus is on the story of two children and how their upbringing and subsequent events affect them. The children also struggle with mistreatment and isolation from their parents. Likewise, Jane Eyre presents a powerful narrative in its early chapters, depicting the horrifying treatment a child endures and how she navigates it throughout her life. Both authors incorporate gothic elements into their stories to captivate readers with intrigue and mystery.

The text highlights the effectiveness of the works by Susan Hill, Bront?, and Wells. Susan Hill shocks readers with Kingshaws death and sheds light on the

harsh realities people are forced to endure. Similarly, Bront? shocks readers with the abuse Jane receives as a child, which is also deeply distressing. On the other hand, Wells takes a different approach in his short story, The Red Room, offering a simple tale of one man's fear. Despite lacking emotional impact, Wells incorporates well-known gothic elements that make the story recognizable. Overall, while Hill and Bront? evoke strong emotions, Wells focuses more on creating an effective but less poignant narrative.

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