The Gothic Culture

September 29, 2020 Venoma 0 Comments

The term "Gothic" dates farther back than one may think, as it not only refers to a specific style, art and literature, but also characterizes a people with a diverse background and relatively influential role in ancient history. Originating in Scandinavia during the time in which the Roman Empire was a force to be reckoned with, the Gothic people continuously disrupted the order of the empire with their Barbaric attacks on multiple Balkan cities, and other raids near the Black and Aegean Sea. Although they did not accomplish in any major conquests nor play a large role in the fall of the Roman Empire, they were a notable force during this time period and their influence in art, writing, music and other things became a major contributing factor in defining the Middle Ages and Renaissance that soon followed.

During the Middle Ages, Gothic influence could be seen in art, literature, fashion and many other aspects of life throughout this period, with defining roles that shaped each into unique subcategories, as Gothic refers to a specific style to this day. The Gothic art of the Middle Ages and Renaissance could mainly be seen in the robust architectural monuments that were used as Cathedrals, Abbeys and other widely used public and private buildings, creating distinct features such as the pointed arch to individualize the construction. While the defining role of the Gothic style during the Middle Ages and Late Renaissance took the form of architectural masterpieces, Gothic writing and other forms of art emerged as history progressed. Literature that fell under this category often took the form of dark, horror based fictional narratives based around a twisted theme, and surprisingly surfaced during the Romantic period of Britain. The theme "Gothic" though, was not taken with full seriousness until authors such as Edgar Allen Poe took the idea and turned it into the well known genre recognized in much of today's literary masterpieces, as his work was focused on the roots of the Goths, with much of his writing being barbaric in nature.


The common elements in Gothic literature and art, similar to the architecture, conjure a sense of mystery and eerie sensation in the viewer, which is often why castles and mansions are the authors and artists setting of choice. Those known for creating work under the Gothic genre often resided in buildings of this nature, for they attempted to portray the feeling that the architecture conveyed in their art or writing, the shadows that darkened rooms or the sounds heard throughout during storm filled nights, almost as though the building was alive. Other elements that define the Gothic culture include the rose and cross, which are connected to each other in meaning closer than one may believe, and their relationship dates back to Medieval and Renaissance periods in which Cathedrals and Churches under Gothic architectural guidance were being constructed. With this knowledge, it is easy to determine why the cross is so common in the Goth genre, and it is widely used in fear inducing work relating to the Devil or protection from evil presences. The rose, though, has more of a unique background and a greater list of possible inclusions in Gothic art and literature, as it was originally a defining aspect of a Cathedral's architecture. A large, round stained glass window often stood as a centerpiece for the eye to gaze upon while in service, with a center point being surrounded by patterns resembling rose petals, and the colors were of a floral nature as well. There is, then, an extremely close connection between the cross and rose, as they both were symbols used in religious buildings during the Medieval and Renaissance periods, and is also another architectural influence from the Gothic era. Another plausible reason as to why the rose is part of these dark themed, horror based works of art dates back to the Romantic time period of England, which is when the Gothic form in art surfaced. The rose is used to signify love and romance, and often times authors would include relationships had by the main character of the novel or piece, giving them somewhat of a more human aspect if the character is meant to be tormented by their own doing or of an outside influence, which allows for greater empathy towards them by the audience. These elements that define Gothic art and literature revolve around dark themes, or what society has associated evil with, and additional elements include blood, bats, crows and others of this nature, all of which though are meant to create a sense of shadowed mystery and ill intentions.

Much of what is apparent in the art and literature can also be seen in the clothing and styles that have become increasingly popular in recent years, with inclusion of the main element, dark colors, to create a very individualistic style and something for people to aid in the representation of who they feel they relate as in society. A lot of what Goth style is relates to intricate designs on clothing, jewelry and possibly make-up backed by a dark pallet of colors, usually black or red, and this is what creates the mysterious and shadowed feel that is represented in the literature and art. It is a way to showcase how the person would like to be portrayed to the world, whether it be simply a preferred sense of style in clothes or make-up, or to help represent the lifestyle they feel deeply connected to, as no other style truly can be used to represent the Gothic category. The style can come as a shock to many, as it is a bold statement and is not commonly practiced by the masses, but it is simply a preferred way of appearance or way of living and often we misjudge it upon sight. Edward Scissorhands is often used to aid in the representation of the Gothic culture, and can be also looked upon as how society should embrace the authentic style that is Goth, as his appearance is not far from the normal look of someone who feels connected with the culture.


This also helps to highlight that Gothic stories or those who partake in the practices are not shrouded in darkness, as the film is of a romantic nature, thus it is seen that the dark themes are only a single part of the culture and can be understood more in depth that Gothic style and people come from a complex historical background. Some may continue to view this culture as barbaric, offensive at times or simply not appealing, but that is with a surface level understanding of who they are and where their style, art and roots came from. With their involvement throughout history in major conflicts with the Roman Empire, monumental success in the architecture of the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods, and defining art, literature and style that can be seen to this day and is appreciated as such, it is hard to deny that Gothic culture is one of great richness and should be understood before turning a blind eye, simply because you're not a fan of how they look.