Publication details

The Castle Spectre as a Gothic play and Gothic Chapbook

Title in English The Castle Spectre as a Gothic Play and Gothic Chapbook


Year of publication 2020
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Hradec Králové Journal of Anglophone Studies
MU Faculty or unit

Language Centre

Keywords chapbook; domestic drama; gothic play; Sarah Wilkinson; M.G. Lewis
Description This paper discusses one of the most popular Gothic plays, M. G. Lewis’s The Castle Spectre, and its chapbook adaptation by Sarah Scudgell Wilkinson titled The Castle Spectre, An Ancient Baronial Romance (1820). Lewis’s play was hugely popular at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and is seen by critics as a “masterpiece” of the genre. Wilkinson in her redaction tried to capitalize on the success of the drama, preserving the narrative line of the main plot but reducing the role of comic characters, music and lighting, which are prominent in Lewis’s play. To court the lower-class readers, Wilkinson refers to the uncorrupted life of peasants compared to the debased manners of upper classes. The ending of the chapbook story is reassuringly domestic; while Lewis’s play ends by the death of the villain and praise for the victory of justice and virtue, Wilkinson concludes with the happy marriage of the main characters and disappearance of the protective ghost. This positive ending with a didactic purpose promotes the domestic bliss of characters and restoration of order destroyed by family feud.

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