|dc.description.abstract||This project explores religious fanaticism in long nineteenth-century British Gothic fiction. Gothic fanaticism is defined as a specific literary device useful for discrediting religious outsiders and critiquing religious phenomena. This study outlines and focuses on three arenas that feature Gothic fanaticism: excessive romantic love, religious nationalism, and vampire fiction. I focus specifically on nineteenth-century British Gothic fiction because of the shifting religious landscape. The introduction traces religious movements and defines Gothic fanaticism, using the concept to read James Hogg’s Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner.
In chapter one, I argue that the language of Gothic fanaticism describes excessive religious practices alongside problematic romantic relationships in Gothic romances like Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles. In chapter two, I compare the ways Arthur Conan Doyle and Elizabeth Gaskell depict American forms of Protestantism as deviant and fanatical to recenter English superiority through Gothicized religion. While Gothic fanaticism discredits Mormonism in A Study in Scarlet, Gaskell’s Lois the Witch goes beyond this othering impulse and can best be read as a juridical parable asking readers to identify fanaticism in a Gothicized other before rooting out their own problematic religious impulses. The final chapter explores the Gothic vampire, suggesting Bram Stoker and George MacDonald police gender norms through Gothicized fanaticism. The study concludes with a reading of Florence Marryat’s The Blood of the Vampire, in which the heroine’s psychic vampirism stems not from a literal thirst for blood but from her parents’ quintessentially Gothic identities as fanatical villains.
Each chapter includes a coda tracing contemporary residues of Gothic fanaticism. Gothic depictions of religious fanatics continue to demonstrate how the discourse shapes conceptions of “acceptable” and “unacceptable” religious belief and practice. Generally, they remind us that monstrosity resides primarily in human action and that the best way to evaluate religion is not through its creeds but through its effects on others.||en_US