The Gothic novel is one of many literary forms in existence today. Its roots, however, extend far into the past, when its mysterious, eerie tone first appeared. Full of emotion and the supernatural, Gothic novels can be entertaining for those who enjoy dark stories. Gothic literature is far from simple. It adheres to a certain formula, with several specific attributes
Appearing in 1764, "The Castle of Otranto" is said to be the first known Gothic novel. The work gained popularity. Written by Horace Walpole, his book started a trend that still influences modern literature, poetry, plays and film.
Locations tend to be coarse and foreboding. For example, the story may take place in a castle, mansion, cave or any other frightening area. It is part of the overall tone of fear and depression. Adding to the mystery, the author may include secret rooms, doors or traps.
Gothic novels can also be quite melodramatic. It is not uncommon for these stories to contain elements, such as a female in distress. The woman is often mistreated or oppressed by a powerful, intimidating male figure. Some stock characters include an overbearing father, cruel master or a member a person with official authority, such as a lord or king. Melodrama can also be found in the emotional aspects of the book. The narrator writes with almost excessive emotion, projecting it equally upon the characters. Incidents of crying, hopelessness and terror are a major part of the story.
Supernatural aspects of Gothic novels vary, but still remain dark. For example, the story may involve a vague prophecy, leaving the characters confused and setting the stage for mystery. Similarly, omens, visions and dreams may appear in order to give hints about future events or unanswered questions. Finally, supernatural elements can include common stock characters or villains associated with horror. Among these are ghosts, monsters, inanimate objects moving or other unexplained events.