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Female sexuality in gothic literature

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Sexuality in the Gothic definitely advances a male-dominated hetero-normative agenda. From the very earliest Gothic novels, female sexuality is suppressed beneath a mandate of purity and purpose, and male heterosexuality is used as an instrument of power or evil.

In Castle of OtrantoFemale sexuality in gothic literature example, Manfred's sexuality, while ostensibly employed in the interest of producing an heir, is wielded as a weapon of terror.

In this way, Gothic male sexuality is just as much a tool of entrapment for women as the crypt or the dungeon cell.

Manfred isn't the only male in the Gothic to use his sexuality to entrap women. In Ann Radcliffe's The Italianbefore the action of the novel begins, Schedoni has successfully trapped Olivia in marriage by raping her. He later confesses, "I ventured to solicit her hand: My passion would no longer be trifled with. I caused her to be carried from her house, and she was afterwards willing to retrieve her honour by the marriage vow.

When female sexuality is overtly part of the main narrative in a Gothic story, it is also used as a tool for entrapment, not in marriage, but in wickedness. Just as Eve is blamed for the fall of man by tempting Adam with the apple, women in the Gothic who exhibit any sexuality "Female sexuality in gothic literature" responsible for all the ensuing evil.

Matilda in Matthew Lewis' The Monk has many powers at her disposal. She can summon demons, use mirrors to magically see people at a distance, and create magic potions.

Aspects of female sexuality figure...

To bring about the fall of Ambrosio, however, she does not rely on her magic powers, but uses sexuality instead. She begins her calculated temptation of Ambrosio in a small way she knows he will accept, by having a painting of herself as the Madonna placed in his cell. His first transgressive thoughts are due to the allure of the woman in the painting.

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