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14 Eerie and Atmospheric Quotes From Gothic Fiction

Gothic literature takes its name from the dramatic, imposing Gothic architecture of 18th-century Europe. The genre is best characterized by its moods and motifs, featuring eerie settings and heightened narratives that create an aura of mystery and foreboding. Traditional elements of Gothic stories include family curses, unresolved mysteries, decaying old mansions, enigmatic characters, and encounters with the supernatural, but there’s always room within the genre for authors to add their own startling twists.

Reading a Gothic tale means immersing ourselves in a surreal drama; we can’t resist the urge to keep turning the page, even as the tension escalates and an unsettling sense of dread sends tingles down our spines.

Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1764) is considered the first Gothic novel. Walpole intended to combine the fanciful elements of medieval romance with the more realistic components of “modern” novels. Since then, the genre has flourished and expanded to encompass a wide range of creepy, atmospheric stories. Britain’s Romantic period gave us Mary Shelley’s debut novel, Frankenstein (1818), while American author Edgar Allan Poe made a significant contribution to the genre with his skillfully crafted short fiction, such as “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839).

The Victorian era produced some of the most famous Gothic fiction of all time, including Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), while the 20th century introduced readers to a number of remarkable authors, including Shirley Jackson and Anne Rice. Today, contemporary writers such as Silvia Moreno-Garcia aren’t merely paying homage to this beloved genre; they’re reimagining and revitalizing it for new generations.

These quotes from some of the most enduring classic and contemporary Gothic novels embody the melancholic essence of this dark, moody genre.

Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.
Mary Shelley, “Frankenstein”

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I fear no bad angel, and have offended no good one.
Horace Walpole, “The Castle of Otranto”

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You can’t influence fate, or change what’s out of your control. But you can choose what you yourself do with the cards you’re dealt.
Ruth Ware, “The Death of Mrs. Westaway”

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Be with me always — take any form — drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!
Emily Brontë, “Wuthering Heights”

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I learned to recognise the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both.
Robert Louis Stevenson, “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”

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One could construct a hundred different narratives, it didn’t make them true.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia, “Mexican Gothic”

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Her mind, long harassed by distress, now yielded to imaginary terrors.
Ann Radcliffe, “The Mysteries of Udolpho”

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I am all in a sea of wonders. I doubt. I fear. I think strange things, which I dare not confess to my own soul.
Bram Stoker, “Dracula”

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Fear … is the relinquishment of logic, the willing relinquishing of reasonable patterns. We yield to it or we fight it, but we cannot meet it halfway.
Shirley Jackson, “The Haunting of Hill House"

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Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind.
Daphne Du Maurier, “Rebecca”

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The future was sunset; the past something to leave behind. And if it didn’t stay behind, well, you might have to stomp it out.
Toni Morrison, “Beloved”

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Of course I was under the spell, and the wonderful part is that, even at the time, I perfectly knew I was.
Henry James, “The Turn of the Screw”

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I thought of what lay before me throughout the world and throughout time, and resolved to go about it delicately and reverently, learning that from each thing which would take me best to another.
Anne Rice, “Interview with the Vampire”

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Too late, I found you can’t wait to become perfect, you got to go out and fall down and get up with everybody else.
Ray Bradbury, “Something Wicked This Way Comes”

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Featured image credit: Archive Photos/ Moviepix via Getty Images

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About the Author
Kristina Wright
Kristina is a coffee-fueled writer living happily ever after with her family in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia.
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