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God & the GothicReligion, Romance, & Reality in the English Literary Tradition$
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Alison Milbank

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198824466

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198824466.001.0001

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Cain’s Castles

Cain’s Castles

The Emergence of Protestant Gothic in the Reformation

Chapter:
(p.13) 1 Cain’s Castles
Source:
God & the Gothic
Author(s):

Alison Milbank

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198824466.003.0002

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.

Keywords:   Reformation, John Foxe, The Faerie Queene, allegory, John Bale, Glorious Revolution, Dissolution of the Monasteries, Walter Benjamin

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