A Gothic Romantic Crash Course

If you’re at this page, then you’re probably a little confused on what a GothRom Heroine is, so let’s have a little crash-course on the Gothic Romantic.

The Romantic period was a short few years where authors revolted against the methodical and society-based literature of the very early 1800s and the start of the Industrial Revolution, focusing on imagination, the human spirit, the ultimate good in man, the awesome and terrifying power of nature, etc. Probably the most famous group of writers to come out of this were the Romantic Poets: William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats, and king of partying George Gordon, Lord Byron. Who are all interesting to read about, but not the focus of what Cordelia Hewett represents.

As Romanticism progressed, a darker sub-genre came out of it: the gothic (or dark) romance. Imagination and nature still played an important part in these novels, but the good of man was absent. Instead, these focused on man’s hubris, man’s pettiness and inherently monstrous nature. We’re talking Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Edgar Allan Poe levels of monstrous nature. Aesthetically, there was a lot of emphasis on mood and atmosphere—stormy seas, misty moors, haunted houses. The sort of thing that humans can’t change and leaves them creeped out is pretty much the description for any Gothic Romance setting.

Caspar_David_Friedrich_-_Wanderer_above_the_sea_of_fog

Caspar David Frederich’s “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog”-a.k.a. the picture that every professor will show you when they talk about the Romantic movement.

The 1850s is where things started getting crazy though. There’s a TON of different genres pouring in. We’ve got Sentimentalism coming from people like Charles Dickens and George Eliot (technically their novels are labeled as “realism,” but you tell me a baby crawling into a house from its dead mother’s arms isn’t some kind of sentimental.), we’ve got Nathaniel Hawthorne over in Massachusetts with his Puritan Romances, we’ve got people still talking about Jane Austen and her work. Out of this mess of genres rise the main influence behind my Twitter.

The Bronte sisters.

Anne, Charlotte, and Emily Bronte wrote novels most in-line with what one would consider a Romance today. Novels like Agnes Grey and Shirley follow what most consider the traditional Romantic plotline still used today: girl starts out as poor via some misfortune outside of her control (abandonment, poverty, abuse, etc.), girl befriends some high-born woman, girl meets high-born man, high-born man is instantly smitten but must say nothing, propriety and social climbing hijinks ensue, girl and high-born man are married and live happily ever after. This, for the record, is the kind of Romantic Bernadette represents.

And then there’s novels like Jane Eyre and, of course, Wuthering Heights. And these are the core of the RomGoth twitter.

This is where the delightfully bonkers aspect of Cordelia and Merrill’s life come from: the multiple wives hidden about, the fits of madness and wasting away out of spite, the convoluted plans to get a wife. It’s a strange mixing of the society-based aspect of the Regency era (Jane Austen’s heyday) and the doubt of humanity’s goodness of the dark romances.

And that’s the history behind GothRom Heroine! If you want to learn more, take a look at the inspirations/recommended readings page.

For more reading and to see where I got this info from: http://www.britannica.com/art/Romanticism

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