Melodramatic Poetics and the Gothic Villain: Interiority, Deviance, Emotion

Juliet John

in Dickens's Villains

Published in print March 2001 | ISBN: 9780198184614
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191714214 | DOI:
Melodramatic Poetics and the Gothic Villain: Interiority, Deviance, Emotion

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This chapter discusses the relation of melodramatic poetics and the Gothic villain, in the context of interiority, deviance, and emotion. The Gothic villain could be termed the ‘real melodramatic villain’: he is the most passionate and the most stupid of all villains. His importation into Dickens's novels typifies and tests Dickens's anti-intellectual project. It is Dickens's unintelligent, passionate, and violent villains who have provided the vehicle for the most universally admired evocations of ‘interiority’ in the Dickens canon. The Gothic villain epitomises the fusion between the ‘macabre’ and the ‘melodramatic’ at the centre of Dickens's project. This chapter explores the aesthetic means by which Dickens renders the intense passions upon which his melodramatic art depends, and the ideologies that attend Dickens's novelistic melodrama. If Dickens's melodramatic methods of characterisation appear to be obvious and widely recognised, the melodramatic characteristics of Dickens's prose poetics have received little attention.

Keywords: melodramatic poetics; Gothic villain; Charles Dickens; novels; villains; melodrama; prose poetics

Chapter.  11017 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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