Gothic Tradition and Supernatural in Fiction and Poetry di Anna Foco

Gothic Tradition and Supernatural in Fiction and Poetry:
analysis of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and
La Belle Dame sans Mercy by John Keats



Teaching unit

Objectives :By the end of the present teaching unit, the student will be able to appreciate a literary text in all its components (linguistic and literary ones). More specifically, he/she will deal with three texts belonging to different literary genres (fiction, poetry and criticism), of which he/she will have to highlight and identify the typical features, similarities and dissimilarities, the elements that can be considered supernatural and gothic.

Receivers : students of the fifth year of high school (liceo), who have already dealt with all the English grammatical structures, literary texts with subordination and coordination and with a vocabulary sufficient to understand a text even more deeply.

Period of the year : December/ January

Duration : four hours: two hours for the analysis of the extract taken from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (fiction)and two hours for La belle dame sans mercy by John Keats (poetry).

Materials : two texts belonging to the same century ('800) and period (Romanticism), but to different literary genres; pictures representing a scene of the film Frankenstein.

Prerequisites : 1) Features of Romanticism- power of imagination and of individual experience; idea of the artist/poet as the only person that knows truth; importance of Nature as a manifestation of God; parallelism between Nature and feelings/emotions; idea of Beauty divided into Sublime (all that is irregular, terrible and gloomy) and Beautiful (all that is regular, symmetrical, harmonious). 2) Introduction of the two generations of romantic poets and brief analysis of their most famous poems- Blake・s Songs of Innocence and Experience; Coleridge・s Rime of the Ancient Mariner; Wordsworth・s Preface to Lyrical Ballads and Daffodils; Lord Byron・s Don Juan; Shelley・s Ode to the West wind. 3) features of Gothic tradition - fear; suspence; sublime; description of landscapes, especially of shipwrecks, cliffs, woods and snowstorms; terror; melancholy; supernatural creatures, such as ghosts or femme fatale; dreams; medieval castles. 4) Brief look at a typical gothic text - Ann Radcliff・s The Mysteries of Udolpho. 5)Knowledge of the most important historical events of the period and the social context.

Methodology/procedure : lecture (lezione frontale) in explanation; silent reading of each student; reading and translation together; listening activity; individual work; pair work; group work; correction together of some exercises of the suggested activities.

  1. Historical context

  2. Social context

  3. Key concepts, The Power of Imagination, The Sublime.

  4. Features of Fiction (its development)

  5. Features of Poetry

  6. Gothic Tradition

  7. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

  8. Activities on Frankenstein

  9. La Belle Dame Sans Mercy by John Keats

  10. Activities on La belle Dame Sans Mercy

  11. Artistic references: Turner for The Sublime and Waterhouse for La Belle Dame Sans mercy

  12. Assessment

Elenco percorsi                                                                                  Edita Roberto Trinchero