You are a movie director and you want to adapt a gothic story into a modern gothic film. Write the synopsis of your film in order to send it to various
Memorise the elements of gothic genre.
Work in pairs, make your partner guess which element you have in mind by drawing something.
Elements of the Gothic Novel
The Gothic novel was invented almost single-handedly by Horace Walpole. The Castle of Otranto (1764) contains essentially all the elements that constitute the genre. Today, gothic elements have been used so often in films that some have become predictable clichés.
Gothic elements include the following:
1. Setting in a castle or old mansion. 2. Anatmosphere of mystery and suspense.
A fear enhanced by the unknown.
3. An ancient prophecy is connected with the castle or its inhabitants (either former or present).
4. Omens, portents, visions. A character may have a disturbing dream vision, or some phenomenon may be seen as a portent of coming events.
5. Supernatural or otherwise inexplicable events.
6. High, even overwrought emotion.
The characters are often overcome by anger, sorrow, surprise, fear, and especially, terror. Crying and emotional speeches are frequent. Breathlessness and panic are common.
7. Women in distress. The female characters often face events that leave them fainting, terrified, screaming, and / or sobbing.
8. Women threatened by a powerful, impulsive, tyrannical male.
One or more male characters has the power, as king, lord of the manor, father, or guardian, to demand that one or more of the female characters do something intolerable.
9. The metonymy of gloom and horror.
A sort of metaphor, in which something (like rain) is used to stand for something else (like sorrow).
10. Gothic vocabulary. Using the right words maintains the dark-and-stimulated feeling that defines the Gothic; for example: mystery, fear, terror, sorrow, surprise, haste, anger...
11. The Onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeic words resemble the sound they name; as for instance: groan, shriek, howl, crash, hiss, moan...
Adapted from “Elements of the Gothic Novel”, Robert Harris, VirtualSalt.com, 2018.
Let's talk this out!
Share your findings with your classmates.
Discuss the gothic stories you know, do they have all the characteristics mentioned?
What are the effects on the readers?
Do you like gothic stories? Why?
Useful vocabulary: The gothic stories I know are... I remember reading... It makes me feel / I find it...