How does the Gothic deal with "crossings" and "deviations"?

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reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Gothic literature is defined by the two terms that you question: Crossings and Deviations. Gothic literature, first of all, crosses borderlines as to what we perceive as normal or natural into the abnormal or the supernatural. Therefore, Gothic elements are present in novels in an obvious fashion, such as Frankenstein, as science is turned upside down to cross moral and human boundaries, or perhaps not so obviously in the novel Jane Eyre,where Jane is confronted by the mad first wife set in the dark, gloomy atmosphere of Thornfield as her love affair crosses into a nightmare. Or perhaps, even a modern novel such as Rebecca where a strange housekeeper, a dead first wife, and another house, Mandalay, cross into the mysterious and frightful.

Deviations occur in the Gothic when elements appear contrary in nature and the world is turned topsy-turvy, out of a human's control. Shakespeare uses many elements of the Gothic in his plays. In Macbeth, three hags, witches, are able to conjure apparitions to foretell Macbeth's future and supernatural events take place on the night of Duncan's murder. In Julius Caesar,supernatural events precede Caesar's assassination, and in Hamlet, Hamlet speaks to a Ghost (by the way, all three plays have a ghost, a deviation from the normal!) Why are we attracted by the Gothic? Simple. It is the unknown that provides us countless possibilities for the imagination! Follow e-note links for more!