This article examines the ways in which James Herbert‘s The Spear (1978) attempted to combine nineteenth century gothic with the contemporary thriller. The novel deals with the activities of a neo-Nazi organisation, and the essay draws parallels between Herberts deployment of National Socialism and the treatment of Roman Catholicism in earlier Gothic texts. Contextualising the novel within a wider fascination with Nazism in 1970s popular culture, it also considers the ethical difficulties in applying techniques from supernatural Gothic to secular tyranny.
Catholicism as System in Charles Maturin‘s Melmoth the Wanderer
Dermot A. Ryan
This essay casts a new light on the anti-Catholicism of Charles Robert Maturin‘s gothic novel Melmoth the Wanderer by reading it as part of a larger assault on systems in the wake of the French Revolution. Maturin‘s attack on the stupendous system of Catholicism contributes to a broader conservative polemic against all forms of international governance. Melmoth the Wanderer‘s portrait of the Church offers us an early instance of modern conservatisms archnemesis: an international system that conspires to rule the world.
Elizabeth Gaskell used Gothic as a symbolic language to explore the dark side of Unitarian thought. She explores, in rationalist terms, evils origins, effects, and remedy, using Gothic tropes as metaphors for humanly created misery. Gaskell locates the roots of ‘evil’ in an unenlightened social order – in ‘The Crooked Branch’ erroneous parenting, and in ‘The Poor Clare’ wider social structures, both distorted by the ideology of privilege. ‘The Poor Clare’ also engages with the tension between moral determinism and personal responsibility, and defends a Unitarian salvation. This tale also demonstrates Gaskell‘s views on aspects of Roman Catholicism.