One of the formal characteristics of the Gothic according to Frederick S. Frank is the abeyance of rationality. Particularly when they exploit religions or political terror, Gothic novels are replete with an overriding sense of rational helplessness or a feeling of no defense against dark powers. Rational security and faith in the beneficence of social institutions are subverted by an overwhelming sense of cosmic dread. Perhaps the term “eerie” is an understatement for the most exaggeratedly horrific Gothic novels, but in a more subtle chapbook such as “Mystery of the Black Convent,” the term is definitely relevant. The eerie in the Gothic contributes to its frisson.
Source: Franks, Frederick. The First Gothics : A Critical Guide To The English Gothic Novel. New York: Garland Publishing, 1987. Print.