Gothic Fiction: Effects of Religion

Gothic fiction was known, perhaps infamously, for it’s commentary on all forms of political institution, society, and especially religion. Almost all Gothic fiction novelists use their stories to point out the hypocrisies of the Church of England and the Catholic Church. A popular stereotypical character representative of this idea is the monk. In stories usually there is a man of god, a monk, who is experiencing some sort of internal struggle with his religiously moral ways and some kind of evil he is tempted by, which he sometimes will give into and do terrible things. As this passage by Chen Yufei illustrates, “The over-correct measures against indulgence and deprivation may cause an outrageous reaction of the oppressed nature. Ambrosio, the protagonist in Matthew Gregory Lewis's The Monk, is a pious, respectable monk in Spain. While, seduced by his pupil, an instrument of Satan in female form, he commits a series of sins associated with carnal lust and gradually steps down to his damnation. Such a sharp downfall is a highly personified process of the collapse of an imbalanced psyche. Here, again, Gothic fiction serves as an asylum of this non-mainstream observation” (Yufei) Gothic fiction has almost nothing good to say about religion, which is fitting historically, since society is secularizing during this time period. Another source brings up the same point in the same book to drive this point, “The Monk’ penned by Matthew Lewis also discloses yet another aspect about Gothic literature. This book talks about the distrust towards Catholicism and some of the darker sides related to the Catholic monks.” (Lad) As we can see, Gothic fiction brought a very modern, secular, viewpoint of popular religions of the time as a direct reaction to the enlightenment period just beginning in the early 19th century, “An anti-Catholic approach as well as parody was also an integral part of Gothic literature.” (Lad)