Religion, society and the Gothic in Radcliffe, Hawthorne and Hogg
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Gothic novels and authors have often been accused of being hostile towards religion by twentieth century literary scholars and critics such as George Haggerty and Diana Long Hoeveler. Religion is often a central theme in Gothic writing, but not al l authors treat religion poorly, and critics such as Maria Purves and E. J. Clery argue that the Gothic novel has been too harshly judged when it comes to its treatment of religion. In this dissertation I will examine how three individual authors, who are separated both spatially and temporally, treat three different religions in their Gothic novels. I will examine how religion is used in Ann Radcliffe‘s The Italian, James Hogg‘s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, and Nathaniel Hawthorne‘s The Scarlet Letter, and I seek to answer why religion is often a central theme in Gothic writings. I will review how Catholicism, Calvinism and Puritanism influence the different societies depicted in the three Gothic novels, and I will argue that there is a lack of separation between the religions and governing in the novels, and between the public and the private sphere which causes problems for the characters in the novels. I will provide evidence supporting my claim that the three Gothic novels do not deserve to be labeled hostile towards religion, and that religion is used by the authors of the novels because of the literary devices it makes available, and because religion ties in well with the Gothic genre. Furthermore, I will argue that it is not the religions in themselves, but rather the lack of separation between religion and society which is criticized in the novels, and that this is often mistaken for anti-religious sentiment.