Qns: How are women depicted and treated in gothic literature?
Women in gothic literature are depicted and treated differently in different periods of the gothic genre. Their roles are also subverted at times to achieve certain aims of the gothic novels. Basically, women are often placed in the bad light of society where they may either be weak or corrupted and treated badly by male characters. However, their roles changes as society progresses.
In early gothic, women are depicted as foolish and helpless as they are often under the oppression of man. Gothic literature develops the character of women such that they are indecisive and submissive. For example in “The Castle Of Otranto”, Hippolita is depicted as an obedient wife of her husband who is a tyrant where “she would not only acquiesce with patience to divorce, but would obey, if it was his pleasure, in endeavouring to persuade Isabelle to give him her hand.” This shows how weak women are portrayed as they do not have their own stand but even support polygamy at the expense of her own marriage.
Moreover, women are also often depicted as vulnerable and lost. This is due to the oppression of man whereby the women always try to escape from their c
The women are also presented as virgins so that their virginity is a form of power over men where in "The Company of Wolves" by Carter, where her virginity saved her from being killed. In addition, her appearance looks innocent, virtuous and pure resulting in her attractiveness towards man such that they are treated with transgressions such as raped or murdered. Furthermore, the women are also depicted as imaginative thus emphasizing on their stupidity such as in "The Mysteries Of Udolpho", where Emily imagines the worst possible scenario upon seeing the picture covered with the black veil. In addition, they are also depicted as supernatural beings such as the bleeding nun. Moreover, gothic literature also subverts women"tms sexual behaviour in the Victorian society where they were dictated by society"tms extremely rigid expectations. For example, in "Jekyll and Hyde", there are hardly any main female characters but even the only maidservant was described as "had an evil face, smoothed by hypocrisy, but her manners were excellent. Women are depicted as innocent, naive and pure so as to become victims of transgressions committed by man. In modern gothic, women are depicted as alluring and sexually seductive such that they possess unnatural beauty. This effect is achieve through the isolation of female characters where often their family members and friends are no where near them and they are always in a vast setting such as a huge castle where it is easy for them to lost their way. In contemporary gothic, women are depicted into two extremes of either submissive or dominant. For example in "The Castle Of Otranto", Isabelle tries to escape from Manfred and in "The Mysteries Of Udolpho", Emily tries to escape from Count Morano. For example, in "Ligeia" by Edgar Poe, she was described to be "features of Ligeia were not of a classic regularity-although I perceived that her loveliness was indeed "exquisite"tm. The weird sisters who were three beautiful vampires are also depicted as voluptuous and sexually aggressive to undermine the foundations of a male-dominated society. The existence of female characters are also said to be "women off him as best we could, for they were as wild as harpies" where harpies represent women to be evil.