Gender Roles In Gothic Literature

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There exists a very real relationship between the Female Gothic novel of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century and the social context of women at that time. This new class of fiction is essentially treated by women as it addresses women’s experiences offered an opportunity to address “the hidden, unspeakable reality of women’s lives: not just their lives in the private inner world of the psyche, but also their social and economic lives in a real world of patriarchal institutions” (DeLamotte 165). Notwithstanding the success of male Gothicists, Gothic fiction is perceived as a female-dominated genre as Leonard Wolf writes:
Despite the triumphs of Lewis and Maturin, the Gothic novel was something of a cottage industry of middle-class
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It proves its genuine precocity to allow the reader to know about the heroine’s ordeals, feelings of frustration as well as about her victimization within the oppressive patriarchal society. It displays women’s struggles to conceal the politics of gender roles of their epoch and to protest against the Law of the Father.
In her discussion of Gothic tropes, Anne Williams reveals that Female Gothic falls under the rubric of a marginalised genre while identifying the critical reception of the gothic in the pre-romantic era with the categorization of women as peripherized subjects, admitting that this literary form has been “congenial” to them and pleasantly suited to their lower social position (Fleenor The Female Gothic 8).
In one sense, this may have been a reaction to exclusion from the male-dominated ‘higher arts’ of poetic and philosophical discourse: the natural desire to express oneself finding a new and perhaps more congenial form from only gradually found critical respectability (The Gothic Tradition
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