Welcome to the Gothic Genre

The Gothic novel is a stylistic mode that uses a set of conventions to instill a feeling of fear, or uneasiness in the reader. You can find many of the components that combine into Gothic literature in this site.

Conventions of Characters

Women- often portrayed as victims of evil, tyrannical men.

Villain- an evil character, whom has some sort of relationship with the supernatural.

Hero- opposite of the evil character. Typically, this person must restore himself to society because of something that occurred in the past.

Doppelgänger- A look-alike or double of a living person, sometimes portrayed as a paranormal phenomenon, and is usually seen as a harbinger of bad luck.

Conventions of Setting

Gothic derives from the style of medieval architecture; settings may include: medieval castles, churches, cathedrals, older houses, or manors. An additional feeling of mystery can be added to a gothic setting through: dark corridors, gloomy chambers, creepy hallways, spooky dungeons, mysterious forests, old graveyards, and other wild, strange, or dangerous locations.

Conventions of Plot

Plots in the Gothic novel usually depict a fallen society, which has come to some sort of evil, supernatural power or temptation. In turn, the society must be brought from the dark to the light by its characters, who have to fight against evil. Plots also revolve around an ancient prophecy, a family mystery, or revenge on another character[s]. These innate, inherited curses are passed on to relatives, whom have to live their live dealing with a terrible family curse. With this concept, there is often a protagonist that has to overcome this ancestral curse in order to restore life back to order.


More Conventions


The Gothic Counterfeit heightens the horror and drama of the events that the author recounts. It gives the story a feeling authenticity by using methods, such as the epistolary method. The epistolary method is described as a story told through letters. This storytelling device is used in The Castle of Otranto. The “Gothic Counterfeit” theme is used by claiming that it is a found text, such as a series of letters or diary entry. Gothic fiction can also contain surreal or surprising events like: torture, murder, suicide and mental insanity. This empirical manner creates a tension between science and the supernatural. Themes of the supernatural, ghosts and monsters are very common in Gothic writing. Additional Gothic conventions include: “wild" landscapes, remote or exotic locales, dungeons, torture chambers, hidden rooms, secret corridors/passageways, dream states or nightmares, found manuscripts or artifacts, ancestral curses, family secrets, specific reference to noon, midnight, twilight (the witching hours) and unnatural acts of nature (blood-red moon, sudden fierce wind, etc.)” (Crallbri).