<bgsound src="Extract from CD 134 - Track 65.swf"> </bgsound> Gothic: Ruined Castle

The Ruined Castle evokes the paradigmatic gothic setting, which is often symbolic of the human mind, "psychology in stone." According to the scholar Chris Baldick, a gothic work "should combine a fearful sense of inheritance in time with a claustrophobic sense of enclosure in space...to produce an impression of sickening descent into disintegration." Some of the fashions on display allude to decay and destruction, while others suggest mental states, such as fear or passion.

With the rise of the Enlightenment, the entire medieval period was retrospectively envisioned as the Dark Ages, characterized by superstition and religious fanaticism, when an irrational fear of witchcraft, sorcery, and Satanism ran rampant. Architectural ruins especially suited the new taste for romantic, backward-looking thoughts, and Protestant England had many ruined monasteries and crumbling churches. In their absence, picturesque, new Gothic Revival "ruins" could be constructed. Meanwhile, the gothic literature of terror was characterized by gloomy settings (such as ruined castles), mysterious, violent, and supernatural events, and a general atmosphere of degeneration and decay.

Lurid images of medieval "superstition" in the Dark Ages have long been intriguing to those with a gothic sensibility. During the Middle Ages, the Black Death spawned an entire genre of macabre imagery involving skeletons and rotting corpses. For our generation, Medieval religious iconography, especially memento mori imagery, has appeared on numerous fashion runways. The garb of priests and nuns has also inspired contemporary fashion, because of the way it evokes both spirituality and blasphemy, asceticism and sexual perversion.

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