Giselle and the Gothic
This chapter discusses the contested issue of the Gothic and its relationship with the Romantic and then considers the presence of Gothic themes in some nineteenth-century ballets. In other words, in literature, theatre and opera Giselle was interpreted as Gothic. Giselle's themes embody many concerns of the Gothic – duplicity, madness, suicide, wealth, class, and the supernatural – and this is mirrored in the music. The events of the ballet take place in medieval Silesia, then in Prussia, its Germanic location perceived as a suitably Gothic setting. The association of the Gothic with popular culture could be the reason why British critics, writing in the 1940s and 1950s, promoted Giselle and other mid-nineteenth-century ballets as Romantic. Their aim was to situate ballet in high art and associating it with the Gothic might have rendered it melodramatic, locating it in popular culture.