In the nineteenth century, Gothic tropes followed the population of England, migrating from rural settings to complex urban landscapes. The practice of using castles, mountains, and abbeys as the setting of a novel went out of vogue for the Gothic, and was replaced by the claustrophobic, dark, labyrinthine cityscape. The serialized mid-century publication of G.W.M. Reynolds' The Mysteries of London portrayed a capital city rife with particularly urban horrors and vices. The Gothic urban landscape reaches its pinnacle in the Gothic revival in the 1880s and 1890s, when the late Victorian Gothic heavily emphasized the alienation of the metropolis, in which the rapid expansion of a concentrated population leads to a paradoxical sense of anonymity. The last twenty years of the century also produced urban landscapes in which the poor living conditions and smothering social structures of the industrial city were used to produce spooky, sinister, and subversive effects. Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), for example, invokes the sprawling scale of London as a prosperous city doubled by an equally daunting shady underside. Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) employs London's new technologies in communication and travel on both sides of the conflict as another way of expressing the strange doubleness of the city; juxtaposing its supportive, convenient prosperity with its capacity for destruction.
Courtesy of Wendy Fall, Marquette University
Hughes, William, David Punter, and Andrew Smith. The Encyclopedia of the Gothic. Chichester, West Sussex, UK : Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. Print.
The Affecting History of the Duchess of C**** Who Was Confined Nine Years in a Horrid Dungeon, Under Ground, Where Light Never Entered, a Straw Bed Being Her Only Resting Place, and Bread and Water Her Only Support, Conveyed by Means of a Turning-Box, by Her Inhuman Husband; Whom She Saw but Once During Her Long Imprisonment, Though Suffering by Hunger, Thirst, and Cold, the Most Severe Hardships, But Fortunately She Was at Last Discovered, and Released from the Dungeon, By Her Parents. [Transcript], Stéphanie Félicité Genlis