The Urban Gothic of Fin-de-Siècle London and Gotham City

Gothic literature set in fin-de-siècle London has often been argued to highlight duality. However, the urban Gothic truly flourishes through its liminality, which allows chaos and order to coexist. Texts such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray offer versions of a Gothic London that have the appearance of structure but are difficult to navigate. Likewise, the Batman franchise has embraced Gotham City as a setting that provides tensions between order and chaos. In Gotham, as in fin-de-siècle London, liminality puts pressures on apparent boundaries. While the urban Gothic initially developed through nineteenth century British texts, modern-day comics and films within the Batman franchise have allowed us to see how a multiverse normalises liminality and embraces multiple works to speak collectively about Gothic tensions. This article analyses the liminal nature of the urban Gothic in both cities side by side to argue that the urban Gothic’s liminal nature allows instability to reign.

Gothic Studies