Gothic Adaptation, 1764–1830

Authored by: Diane Long Hoeveler

The Gothic World

Print publication date:  October  2013
Online publication date:  October  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415637442
eBook ISBN: 9780203490013
Adobe ISBN: 9781135053062


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Although the Gothic has largely figured as a fictional genre, its cultural and literary manifestations extended into the poetic, dramatic and operatic fields. There were more than 1,000 Gothic novels and chapbooks written in England between 1764–1830, a large number of which attempted to defend the increasingly serious threats posed against the monarchy and aristocracy more generally in England. The Gothic originally began as an ideologically conservative genre committed to shoring up the claims of primogeniture and inheritance by entail. Novels such as Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1764) and Clara Reeve's The Old English Baron (1778) were concerned with unjust tyrants, imprisonments, escapes, disinheritances, wrongful claims on an estate, threatened assaults on virginal females, and the eventual triumph of the “true” aristocrat as rightful heir. Increasingly, however, the Gothic developed a middle-class and whiggish ideology that was rabidly Protestant and nationalistic. This chapter will survey the various forms that Gothic novels have taken as they have been adapted for different audiences and for different ideological purposes.

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