‘The Haunted Beach’: the coast and the Gothic tradition, 1764-1820

Clifton, Anna Elizabeth (2020). ‘The Haunted Beach’: the coast and the Gothic tradition, 1764-1820. University of Birmingham. M.A.

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The coast has an underappreciated importance in the Gothic tradition. It is well established that the environment plays a key role in Gothic literature, but the coast’s specific impact has not been investigated so thoroughly. This dissertation aims to explicate the importance of coastal motifs to traditional Gothic texts. Specifically, it investigates the role of the coast as an ecotonal boundary space in fairy-tale, in Gothic discussions of religion and to emphasise disembodied voices. An ecotonal boundary is one which divides and combines two different ecological spaces – for example, the ecotonal coast is the space where the land meets the sea.

The coast is a space which provokes emotional responses and builds a unique sense of atmosphere. By looking at traditional Gothic texts from between 1764 to 1820, it is possible to discern that the coast is a place chosen by writers to establish a sense of in-betweenness, where characters occupy the space between disparate realities. Ann Radcliffe, Charles Maturin, Matthew Lewis and Horace Walpole are all featured in this dissertation as examples of authors who depict the coast as possessing Gothic qualities and macabre significance. An uncomfortable note comes from the tension between the known and the unknown in these novels, creating mystery and ambiguity.

This investigation of the relevance of the coast to traditional Gothic writing reveals how the genre has taken and elaborated upon the space’s pre-existing reputation for liminality, as well as how it uses this boundary to engage in conversations about fantasy, spirituality and death.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.A.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.A.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/11113


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