The importance of the sublime as a means to understanding gothic texts, using examples from of number of gothic works.

Essay by soccerhelbsCollege, Undergraduate March 2004

download word file, 9 pages 4.3 1 reviews

Downloaded 110 times

An archaic cathedral resides among a savage forest where darkness reigns as the sole inhabitant among the shadows of the trees. This image would fill anyone with a sense of terror in the obscurity and power existing in it. However, delight in the awe and astonishment of this scene would be simultaneously produced. As a result, this setting is considered sublime. According to one of the most prolific and influential theorists on the sublime, Edmund Burke ( 2001:7), the sublime is anything that "is productive of the strongest emotion the mind is capable of feeling." This feeling is that powerful emotion in which terror and pain coexist with delight and astonishment. One area in which the sublime has become a crucial element is that of Gothic literature. This is due to the fact that not only was the Gothic raised out of the utilization of the sublime, but is needed in order to truly experience and understand the Gothic.

One reason why the sublime is necessary to the understanding of the Gothic is because the Gothic was created by those purposely looking to employ the sublime in the creation of their productions. The Gothic genre began to take form at a time in which the boundaries established by the rational ideals of neoclassicism were becoming dissatisfactory to the producers of all forms of art (Clery, 2002). This led to a search for a new theory by which to create art. A discovery satisfying this search was a text by the Greek Longinus titled "On the Sublime" (Clery, 2002). In this writing, Longinus lays out what the Sublime is and how to use it. He states that "the soul is raised by true sublimity, it gains a proud step upwards, it is filled with joy and exultation, as though itself...