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The Failure of GothicProblems of Disjunction in an Eighteenth-Century Literary Form$
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Elizabeth R. Napier

Print publication date: 1987

Print ISBN-13: 9780198128601

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198128601.001.0001

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Techniques of Closure and Restraint

Techniques of Closure and Restraint

(p.9) 1 Techniques of Closure and Restraint
The Failure of Gothic

Elizabeth R. Napier

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the strong tendency towards closure, stabilization, and formal resolution in many Gothic novels, following a pattern made popular in 18th-century poetry and prose. The achievement of stabilization or closure is a curiously two-sided enterprise: desired because of its connections with resolution and the conquest of good over evil, it is nonetheless increasingly seen as an inadequate, or unrealistic, response to the pressures of passion and vice. Many illustrations of Gothic fiction seem to stress this aspect of the mode: capturing the frozen gestures of astonishment on the part of the virtuous characters, they repeatedly display the helpless fixation or fainting away of women unable any longer to contain their physical or emotional responses to the evil that faces them.

Keywords:   Gothic novels, passion, stabilization, resolution, evil

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