The Sublime and Supernatural in the Gothic.

Essay by madboarderbenUniversity, Bachelor'sB, February 2005

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Important Elements in Gothic Literature

The gothic genre, as with all genres, is made up of many elements and concepts resulting in a massively broad and varied spectrum; including the supernatural, the sublime and horror to name but a few of the more common and generally fundamental ones. Some concepts may be clearly overt, and others will be more discreetly manipulated, but nevertheless a gothic text will more often than not include many of these elements.

The definition of the sublime has long been a contested term, but the idea of this key concept is essential to an understanding of gothic poetics and, especially, the attempt to defend or justify the literature of terror. In basic terms the sublime is 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. In terms of the supernatural in the gothic genre, it generally appears in the form of some kind of other than natural being or object, such as a vampire or ghost, which is frightening due to its refusal to adhere to the laws of nature, God or man. Returning to Frankenstein, it could be argued that there is no element of the supernatural, or alternatively that the creature is supernatural by virtue of its being a composition of dead parts then re-animated by 'ungodly' means.

Elements of the supernatural may seem to be almost an obligatory component of the gothic tale. In every day vocabulary the word 'supernatural' generally suggests something ghostly or...