Gothic literature is sublime and let’s ascertain the reasons for it being so. I would like to use the following paraphernalia for doing it. They are New Criticism, Existentialism, Psychoanalysis, Marxian Criticism, Deconstruction and Feminism.
New Criticism is the analysis of tropes or figures of speech used in literature. The tropes in Gothic Literature bear a semblance of illumination. They dissect the human psyche to portray the storm of inner angst. When we read into the tropes of Gothic Literature we are filled with awe, fixated to a neurotic delirium and we become fascinated with the flux of psychedelic mania. Gothic literature is fanciful, ornamental and hyperbolic. There is a tendency to portray the supernatural realm through the lens of being human. The pathetic dilemma of human condition is portrayed vividly through using neurotic and psychotic features.
Viewing it through the prism of existential literature, the first prominent feature that is highlighted is angst. Most characters undergo an extreme angst that transcends to a manifestation of neurosis or psychosis. Edgar Allan Poe is a master of portraying psychological torment. There is a tendency to overcome societal norms and showcase characters with violent criminal behavior. Using Sartre’s term, the characters exhibit a being- in- itself syndrome and project their ego to annihilate the other’s subjective postures. Thus characters encounter nothingness with reality and use their freedom to egotistical excess.
Psychoanalytically speaking we can use the famous term of Lacan: the gaze. The gaze is violent, pathetic, neurotic and psychotic. There is a romantic elevation of the psyche to dizzying levels of melancholia. All Gothic characters are lunatic psyches with a tendency to usurp the existing synthesis of being democratically tuned to a society’s ethos. The ID is elevated, the ego is defied and the superego is violated. There is a tendency to be in the reverse tangle of despondent romanticism. The characters are either psychotic or neurotic or both. Murder is justified with the luminal space of being egotistically sadistic.
A Marxian critic would look at the Gothic as being productive enterprise of the bourgeoisie. The sole aim of the Gothic is to produce a pleasurable catharsis. The reader is fantastically transmitted into the world of the sublime where it’s the aim of the bourgeoisie to keep the proletariat satisfied. The means of producing literature are gratified with the excess of capitalistic profit. For a Marxian critic, the Gothic is an out-of-place reality, a genre where the interests of the working class are negated.
Looking at it through the ideas of deconstruction, one would understand the binary divide of characters. For example, in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, the monstrous element becomes the grotesque, ugly and portrayed with pathos of being psychotically disturbed. This is a symptom of Binary Divide, an escape from the reality of being clinically sane. Democratic norms are subverted to justify the colonialism of the psyche. Tyranny of the mind reigns high and becomes the threshold of the DNA ladder of the Binary divide. The book becomes the centre of psychological gratification in one sense and in another, feasible appetizer for psychological gratification.
From a Feminist point of view, the archetypes are masculine, and having the qualities of being misogynists. There is no gaze of the feminine. The characters are psychological machos caught in the throes of violence and murder.