Gothic literature is a genre of literature which has its roots in the late 18th century. It is characterized by dark, mysterious, and often supernatural elements, as well as an overall atmosphere of horror or dread. Gothic literature was popularized by authors such as Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, and Bram Stoker. The genre has its origins in the Gothic novel, which emerged in the late 18th century and grew to be extremely popular throughout Europe and Great Britain during the 19th century. The earliest works of gothic fiction were often set in castles or monasteries with decaying walls that contained secret passages filled with danger lurking around every corner. These settings allowed for larger-than-life stories of suspense and horror to unfold as protagonists struggled against their surroundings as much as they did their own inner demons. Characters frequently faced off with evil forces that might include ghosts, vampires or other supernatural creatures who sought to do them harm. In some cases these forces were presented simply as metaphors for the psychological turmoil experienced by characters going through difficult life situations such as loneliness or depression. Common themes found within gothic literature include fear of the unknown, forbidden love affairs between humans and supernatural beings, tragic endings for noble protagonists who die trying to protect innocents from evil forces (or are otherwise martyred), and a general sense of unease concerning what lies beneath civilized society’s veneer both physically and psychologically speaking. Additionally, certain aspects of medieval culture often appear such as ancient ruins used to evoke a feeling of mystery or dread associated with past events that still haunt present generations; family secrets kept hidden away due to shame or tragedy; and superstitions related to everyday life (such as garlic being used ward off vampires). The legacy left behind by early gothic authors is still evident today in various forms: modern horror films often borrow heavily from classic gothic novels while authors may use certain elements from this genre when writing their own stories featuring dark themes set in oppressive environments where protagonists go against all odds hoping to come out victorious at least once before all is said done.
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