"The Gothic" is a style, tone, or genre in western literature that most people recognize through various names, images, or elements:
Elements of the gothic make a long list, and so do its literary genres:
The Gothic Novel
"Gothic." A term for aspects of medieval art first applied to pointed architecture in the early seventeenth century. . . . The gothic revival [in architecture in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries] in its literary aspects was closely associated with the green copses, disordered stone piles, enchanting shadows and sweet melancholy of these ruined buildings. . . . Horace Walpole built Strawberry Hill (1750-53) and wrote The Castle of Otranto (1764) in the same mood.--Joseph T. Shipley, ed. Dictionary of World Literary Terms. Boston: The Writer, Inc., 1970.
"The Gothic Novel." A form of novel in which magic, mystery, and chivalry are the chief characteristics. Horrors abound: one may expect a suit of armor suddenly to come to life, while ghosts, clanking chains, and charnel houses impart an uncanny atmosphere of terror.--C. Hugh Holman, A Handbook to Literature, 3d. ed. Indianapolis: Odyssey, 1972.
“Gothic Fantasy": The starting point of Gothic literature is usually given as The Castle of Otranto (1765) by Horace Walpole . . . . Although all Gothic fiction is tragedy, its key component is the edifice [or building] . . . . Gothic fiction usually takes place in an ancient castle or abbey whose owner discovers his noble line is doomed, usually because some past misdemeanor has caused the family to be cursed. . . . [The genre] was desensationalized and adopted into the mainstream by Charlotte Bronte in Jane Eyre (1847) and Emily Bronte in Wuthering Heights (1847). . . . [In the late 19th and early 20th centuries] the Gothic mode shifted toward romantic fiction, and was revived strongly in the work of Daphne du Maurier, who built on the work of the Brontes to lay the foundation for the modern Gothic romance. . . .--Mike Ashley, “Gothic Fantasy,” The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, eds. John Clute and John Grant. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1997.
Additional examples of genre: See titles above, plus Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1800?); Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818); Edgar Allan Poe, "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1839); Bram Stoker, Dracula (1897); Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca (1938); Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire (1976); Stephen King, The Shining (1977)
European / psychological gothic
gothic—Irving, Cooper, To Kill a Mockingbird, Blair Witch Project
Puritan / moral gothic—Hawthorne, Scarlet Letter and stories (also include some wilderness gothic)
gothic—Nightmare on Elm Street
Urban gothic—film noir (dark detective films like The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, Chinatown, Body Heat, LA Confidential)
Based on the example, how do you know you're in a Gothic novel?
What other features may you expect as you turn the pages?
Why is setting so important?
Links to gothic websites
Research Sources: See above, plus web sites: The Gothic Literature Page http://members.aol.com/FranzPoet/intro.html
Literature of the Fantastic (gothic novels on-line, mostly out-of-copyright tales from the nineteenth century) http://www.sff.net/people/DoyleMacdonald/lit.htm