Carmilla

Isolation in the Gothic Novel: Gender and Genre College

In an essay concerning the components of the Romantic novel, James P. Carson frames the difference between Gothic and Romantic attitudes as a “disagreement over values inherent in attempts to represent people” (Matthews). He succinctly describes the difference as one of intent: the Romantic novel evokes depth “in the midst of excess” while the Gothic novel seeks excess and uses divisive methods of description to thus create identity (Matthews). In Joseph Sheridan LeFanu’s speculative fiction novella Carmilla, the concept of the female Gothic manifests through the concern of how sexual boundaries can endanger and the idea of feminine incarceration and isolated setting as a means for allowing dark action to occur. Alternatively, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre tells the more extensive story of a woman’s maturity through dreary circumstances and focuses on the emotions and experiences that incite her growth to adulthood, all filtered through the lens of Gothic romance. Through female Gothic conventions, LeFanu and Bronte use a stark sense of isolation as a means for their heroines’ often captive states and to create a sense of individual experience in their gender roles and social class.

In alternate ways, the physical settings...

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