The Emergence of Protestant Gothic in the Reformation
In Chapter 1, the Reformation is presented as the paradigmatic site of Gothic escape: the evil monastery can be traced back to Wycliffe’s ‘Cain’s castles’ and the fictional abbey ruin to the Dissolution. Central Gothic tropes are shown to have their origin in this period: the Gothic heroine is compared to the female martyrs of Foxe’s Acts and Monuments; the usurper figure is linked to the papal Antichrist; and the element of continuation and the establishment of the true heir is related to Reformation historiography, which needs to prove that the Protestant Church is in continuity with early Christianity—this crisis of legitimacy is repeated in the Glorious Revolution. Lastly, Gothic uncovering of hypocrisy is allied to the revelation of Catholicism as idolatry. The Faerie Queene is interpreted as a mode of Protestant Gothic and Spenser’s Una provides an allegorical gesture of melancholic distance, which will be rendered productive in later Gothic fiction.
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