What is Gothic Fiction?
I’m a big fan of American Romanticism and its fascination with death and the supernatural. A subset of American Romanticism that really focuses on this fascination is Gothic Fiction, also known as Gothic Horror.
Here we answer the question: “What is Gothic Fiction?”
Elements of Gothic Horror and Gothic Fiction
Gothic Horror, or Gothic Fiction, is characterized by the elements of fear, horror, the supernatural and darkness, and by characters such as vampires, demons, heroes, heroines and villains. Other Gothic Horror elements include mystery, romance, lust, and dread. Originating in the late 18th century, Gothic fiction was a branch of the larger Romantic movement that sought to stimulate strong emotions in the reader — fear and apprehension, in this case. The name of the genre comes from medieval architecture, because it often harks back to the medieval era in spirit and subject matter, and it sometimes uses Gothic buildings as a setting.
Common Subject Matter
Gothic Fiction places heavy emphasis on atmosphere, using setting and word choice to build suspense and a sense of unease in the reader. As with the broader American Romantic movement, Gothic fiction contains a fascination with death and the supernatural, often emphasizing family curses, mystery and madness. Gothic fiction might also feature a romantic plot or subplot. Although the novel is often considered the best example of gothic fiction, some poetry and short stories can also be characterized as Gothic, such as the short stories of Edgar Allen Poe, which have influenced Gothic writers since their publication.