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The beautiful Gothic: an investigation into the use and development of the beautiful and death in Gothic literature

The beautiful Gothic: an investigation into the use and development of the beautiful and death in Gothic literature

O'Brien, Paul (2006) The beautiful Gothic: an investigation into the use and development of the beautiful and death in Gothic literature. MPhil thesis, University of Greenwich.

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Abstract

The aim of this thesis is to explore the ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful in Gothic literature. Using ideas proposed by Edmund Burke, I will argue that authors of the Gothic genre developed these ideas into a maturing relationship between the Sublime and the Beautiful, and then demonstrate how this relationship has close ties with death and resurrection. I will also explain how this relationship assists towards understanding death as something that has already occurred in the past, which 1 call the Beautiful Death. 1 will further argue how the development of the Beautiful helped to popularise the character of the vampire in fiction as it is recognised today.

Using Horace Walpole's Castle of Otranto as a starting point, I will discuss how authors came to realise the necessity of the Beautiful in Gothic literature along with its charge of empowering the Sublime. 1 will trace what I understand to be the evolution of the Beautiful from Walpole's novel onwards until it becomes a force that first challenges the presence of the Sublime, and then arguably becomes more powerful than the Sublime. With this in mind I will demonstrate how the Beautiful Death is developed by authors into an independent force that is identifiable in strong, overpowering characters from Matthew Lewis' The Monk onwards. I will argue that the physical guise of the Beautiful is an important step towards the popularisation of the vampire in fiction.

As I will be focusing more on the Beautiful rather than the Sublime, my thesis will therefore primarily address the idea of whether or not the Gothic genre can be considered as a literature of the Beautiful as well as the Sublime and how, in using it, authors effected not only the idea of accepting death, but also established a relationship between their characters and death. I will discuss the latter in my conclusion using Carolyn Lamb's Glenarvon, by which point I will have demonstrated how death and the Beautiful are vital components of Gothic fiction, and how their presence was a vital influence upon the emergence of the vampire as a recurring character of proceeding fiction.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Uncontrolled Keywords: gothic, literature, fiction, sublime, beautiful, genre, death, literary criticism,
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Humanities & Social Sciences
School of Humanities & Social Sciences > Department of History, Philosophy and Politics
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2018 12:58
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/8240

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