Gothic Drama Criticism: Sociopolitical Contexts - Essay

Robert P. Reno (essay date October 1984)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Reno, Robert P. “James Boaden's Fontainville Forest and Matthew G. Lewis' The Castle Spectre: Challenges of the Supernatural Ghost on the Late Eighteenth-Century Stage.” Eighteenth-Century Life 9, no. 1 (October 1984): 95-106.

[In the following essay, Reno explains the nearly universal critical objections to the appearance of ghosts onstage in Gothic plays performed in the late eighteenth century.]

By the end of the eighteenth century, the Gothic novel had become so popular in England that William Lane, then owner of the Minerva Press, was said to have proposed a standing offer of ten pounds for any Gothic manuscript. Dozens of Gothic novels...

(The entire section is 5858 words.)

Paula R. Backscheider (essay date 1993)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Backscheider, Paula R. “Gothic Drama and National Crisis.” In Spectacular Politics: Theatrical Power and Mass Culture in Early Modern England, pp. 149-88. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.

[In the following essay, Backsheider maintains that the enormous popularity of Gothic drama can be accounted for by its ability to reproduce and contain the cultural anxieties that accompanied the era's political and social unrest.]

Gothic drama reached its creative and popular peak at a time when a number of political orders were being renegotiated and being complicated by almost unprecedented national and international crises. A few of the major events of...

(The entire section is 17984 words.)

Diane Long Hoeveler (essay date summer 2000)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hoeveler, Diane Long. “Gothic Drama as Nationalistic Catharsis.” Wordsworth Circle 31, no. 3 (summer 2000): 169-72.

[In the following essay, Hoeveler examines the social and political implications of the Gothic drama's popularity.]

In Spectacular Politics (1993), Paula Backsheider suggested that gothic drama is “the earliest example of … mass culture … an artistic configuration that becomes formulaic and has mass appeal, that engages the attention of a very large, very diverse audience, and that stands up to repetition, not only of new examples of the type but production of individual plays” (150). But what is repeated in the gothic drama,...

(The entire section is 3498 words.)