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Gothic Literature and Religion

            The Christian attachment to Gothic emerged from its connection to Gothic and Gothic Revivalist architecture, though from the nineteenth century the Romantics gave an appraisal of Christianity that differed from its previous depiction. As Minghui said, '.Gothic authors themselves questioned the relevance of religion, foregrounded issues on scientific antitheism by presenting Christianity in a dubious light, present, but altogether powerless.'2 A late Romantic example of this exists in the Gothic novel Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) by Charles Maturin, a narrative that suggested an argument for social change in early nineteenth century Britain, reproving Roman Catholicism in favour of the virtues of Protestantism. The instability of theology offered Gothic Literature the confidence to query the supremacy of religion in text, for example in The Monk, where there is, according to critic David Stephens '.in effect a conflation of Roman Catholicism and blind superstition.'3 Both here and in the character of Father Jerome in Walpole's archetypical The Castle of Otranto, Gothic authors have presented religious representatives as morally injudicious, their irresolute personas open to corruption and temptation. This theme is prevalent throughout the Gothic genre, from the earlier poetry of Coleridge, Christabel and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1797-98); through to Bram Stoker's popular novel Dracula (1897) and the striking late set Gothic text The Bloody Chamber (1979) by Angela Carter. The discord between religious ideals and sin are paralleled through these texts, and attest to Christianity's influence in the literary Gothic.
             As Robert Kidd argues, 'Temptation and transgression are the central motifs of the Gothic'4. In religious literature, temptation is often seen as the ultimate transgression of faith, the revival of original sin. It is therefore unsurprising that the Coleridge poems, Dracula and The Bloody Chamber all display this theme, a breach of the character's moral and pious integrity in their desperation to satisfy their curiosity.

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