Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Robyn McCarron


The aim of this thesis is to examine the Gothic phenomenon as it pertains to late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century fiction, and extrapolate its social and psychological concerns as they relate to the Gothic revival in the late nineteenth-century Decadent movement and late twentieth-century gothic subculture. This examination focuses on recurrent social and psychological themes in eighteenth/nineteenth-century Gothic fiction, the late nineteenth-century Decadent movement and twentieth-century gothic music and subculture, which, in turn, are compared to the themes and motifs of the song lyrics and fiction of Nick Cave. Within this context, the recurring theme of the psychological exploration of the effect of the alienation of the individual subject within a rapidly changing social environment will be explored. Chapter one introduces the concept of examining song lyrics as poetry, and provides an overview of the social and psychological themes and motifs of Gothic fiction and gothic music and subculture. It concludes by placing the work of Nick Cave in a Gothic fiction context within the sociological framework of a gothic subculture context. Chapter two compares some of the psychological themes of early nineteenth-century Gothic fiction, twentieth-century gothic subculture and the lyrics and fiction of Nick Cave. It shows how fears and apprehensions invoked by divergent social changes result in the fictional expression of converging psychological themes. This chapter addresses the recurring theme of alienation. Chapter three focuses on some of the concerns associated with the western phenomenon known as the fin de siècle. Specifically, it shows how the fears and apprehensions of the fin de siècle that deal with masculinity and sexuality have manifested in the male psyche. These fears that were abundant in the tum of the century Decadent movement are mirrored and, indeed, expanded upon within gothic subculture and, in particular, the fiction of Nick Cave. The chapter concludes by drawing attention to some of the social changes that could be informing the current concerns that underpin the latest occurrence of the gothic phenomenon. The concluding chapter examines the notion that Gothic fiction looks to the future and speculates, albeit pessimistically, about the future of society and humanity, specifically examines various Cave song lyrics and gives emphasis to their recurring images and the theme of apocalypse. The notion that the 'black' aesthetic of gothic subculture and music derived from this pessimistic view of the future is highlighted through a close reading of apocalyptic images in Nick Cave's song lyrics.