Gothic Drama Criticism: Gothic Playwrights - Essay

Willard Thorp (essay date June 1928)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Thorp, Willard. “The Stage Adventures of Some Gothic Novels.” PMLA 43, no. 2 (June 1928): 476-86.

[In the following essay, Thorp discusses strategies employed by Gothic playwrights to minimize the effects of the horrors they were staging.]

The characteristic drama of the first years of the nineteenth century was, as everyone knows, absurdly romantic and sentimental. Incited by the extravagant Kotzebue and charmed into emulation by the new mélodrame from France, the first specimen of which reached England in 1802, the English playwrights supplied the stage with a variety of plots involving robber barons, victims of the Inquisition, captive maidens...

(The entire section is 12776 words.)

John Franceschina (essay date 1997)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Franceschina, John. Introduction to Sisters of Gore: Seven Gothic Melodramas by British Women, 1790-1843, pp. 1-13. New York: Garland, 1997.

[In the following essay, Franceschina examines the contributions of female playwrights to the Gothic genre.]

Ha! eternal curses! still will I have revenge!

The Old Oak Chest II.v.

Confusion! foil'd again …

St. Clair of the Isles I.iv.

Aesthetically, melodrama is the dramatization of a dream world of absolutes “where virtue and vice coexist in pure whiteness and blackness” and where “life is uncomplicated, easy to understand, and...

(The entire section is 6516 words.)

Michael Gamer (essay date winter 1999)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Gamer, Michael. “Authors in Effect: Lewis, Scott, and the Gothic Drama.” ELH 66, no. 4 (winter 1999): 831-57.

[In the following essay, Gamer discusses the Gothic dramas of Matthew Lewis and Sir Walter Scott.]

Of genius, in the fine arts, the only infallible sign is the widening of human sensibility … of doing well what is worthy to be done, and what was never done before. … Genius is the introduction of a new element into the intellectual universe: or, if that be not allowed, it is the application of powers to objects on which they had not before been exercised, or the employment of them in such a manner as to produce effects hitherto...

(The entire section is 13447 words.)