A genre of literature that came into being during this period is Gothicfiction. Writers whose works are characterised as Gothic “turn out to be thosewho bring us up against the boundaries of the civilised, who demonstrate to usthe relative nature of ethical and behavioural codes and place over against theconventional world a different sphere in which these codes do not operate, or operateonly in distorted forms” (Punter 405).
In other words, these writers overcomethe boundaries of what is normal and what is real and write about events thattake place beyond these boundaries. Either through descriptions of uncivilisedbehaviour like murder or violence or through unreal situations based onsuperstition or supernatural aspects. In the Victorian era, the ghost story, asa form of Gothic fiction became very popular. This was the case because “theghost story allowed writers to explore the mystery of life after death withouthaving to engage in religious controversy” (Smith and Hughes 106). Writers likeHenry James and Oscar Wilde used the freedom they had within literature toexplore this upcoming interest. Turning to the novels chosen for this thesis, The Turn of the Screw and ThePicture of Dorian Gray were both written towards the end of the VictorianEra and they both belong to the literary genre of Gothic fiction. The genreemerged at the beginning of the Victorian era which is why these two novelswere written when the Gothic genre was already well-established.
The Woman in Black was actually writtenin the twentieth-century and in the period of late modernism but it can stillbe described as gothic. Within her research, Gina Wisker also argues that thenovel contains gothic motifs, TheWoman in Black uses manystrategies of the conventional ghost story: spectral visits, sounds in thenight, empty rooms with the movements of the past continuing beyond the deathsof those who lived there, and an overwhelming, unidentifiable atmosphere ofdread. It also reminds us of the narratives of the nineteenth century on whichmuch of the plot is set, the emphasis on inheritance, houses, heredity,propriety. (Wisker 216)As anexception, The Woman in Black cantherefore also be defined as gothic because it is written in a gothic style andit contains many gothic elements that are mentioned in the analytical part. III.
III Gothic FictionGothicFiction is a literary genre that was popular in England during the 18thand 19th century. In general, novels belonging to this genre combinetopics like fiction, death, and horror. Sometimes romantic elements are alsoadded. During these centuries “Gothic stood for the old-fashioned as opposed tothe modern; the barbaric as opposed to the civilised and crudity as opposedto elegance” (Punter 6) because it crossed the boundaries of a civilisedsociety.