Antagonist Characters in the Early Gothic Novel : a Matter of Political Anxiety?

Christopher Thomas CAIRNEY


During the eighteenth-century, the antagonist, previously the second most important character in a story, becomes, first in Richardson's Clarissa, and then under Gothic influence, the main character in the novel. This recalls the “heavy” villain of Elizabethan drama. The use to which the character is put by the author is both consciously and unconsciously political or ideological, at least in part. Under political influence, the antagonist can be classified as either “repentant” or “unrepentant,” with very different effects, as a New Historicist or Cultural Materialist analysis can reveal. The Gothic antagonist is set within the Gothic novel, and together with other conventions of the Gothic novel became the basis of later interpretations of the Gothic impulse in novels of various sub-genres, from oriental fiction and science fiction to the modern romance novel.

Anahtar Kelimeler

Gothic Novel; Villain; New Historicist; Cultural Materialism; Ideology; Genre; Fiction; Romance

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