The Horror! The Horror!What Hath Goth Wrought? Characteristics and Origins of the Gothic Literature/Horror Genre Horror or just Gore? Before the days of Freddie Kruger, Hollywood made many suspense/horror movies, some cheapie thrillers (I Dismember Mama), and some that became classics for chilling the blood of the audience. The master of these movie-makers was Alfred Hitchcock, who built suspense slowly and subtly, usually without blood or overt violence. The original Psycho was a masterpiece of subtle horror as were Rear Window and The Birds. Horror or just Gore? Today’s master of the horror novel is Stephen King, whose books (often made into movies) are true spine-chillers that use suspense to terrify readers. Did you know that before horror there was Gothic Literature, part of the Romantic Movement? Romantic Roots Imagination, intuition, and feelings (versus reason and intellect) Spirituality (versus science) Innocence (versus experience) Nature and the country (versus industrialization and the city) Nostalgia (versus “progress”) Romantic Roots In America, Romanticism most strongly impacted literature. Writers explored supernatural and gothic themes. Romantic Roots Yesterday and today: Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto (1764); Anne Radcliffe, Edgar Allen Poe, Bram Stoker, H.P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King; Freddy, Jason, Mike, et al. What’s so great about fear anyway? Do you feel moments of terror? Do you hold your breath? Do you laugh? Why do you react as you do? How do you explain the desire of people to be terrified? As children, we delight in ghost stories told in the dark. As adults, we read books or see movies that we know will scare us. Why? Elements of Horror Setting a deserted (or sparsely inhabited) castle or mansion in a state or ruins or semi-ruins labyrinths/mazes, dark corridors, and winding stairs filled with dusty cobwebs castles or mansions which have hidden tunnels/staircases, dungeons, underground passages, crypts, or catacombs. Edgar Allen Poe’s “Fall of the House of Usher”, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” if set in a broken down modern house, the basement or attic becomes the place of terror threatening natural landscapes, like rugged mountains, dark forests, or eerie moors, exhibiting stormy weather Shelly’s “Frankenstein”, Sherlock Homes’ “Hounds of the Baskervilles.” Cemetery A place for the burial of the dead. Caves, temples, mounds, catacombs, churchyards, crypts. Crosses cultures and ages. Entrapment/Imprison ment Being confined or trapped, as shackled to a floor or hidden away in a dark cell. Heightens the psychology of feeling there’s “no way out.” Poe’s “Usher” in which Madeline awakens having been buried alive. Elements of Horror Lighting/Mood Blackout limited lighting such as moonlight (usually a full moon), candles, flashlight, lantern often the light disappears: clouds hide the moon, candles go out, flashlights/ lanterns are dropped and broken if electric lights exist, they usually mysteriously go out Mist/Fog A grouping of water particles due to a change in atmospheric conditions. Literary convention used to obscure objects, reduce visibility, or preclude the insertion of something terrifying. Characters Unreliable Narrator The narrator’s ability to accurately relate events is suspect. The narrator makes incorrect assumptions or conclusions, or misunderstands situations or other characters. Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart or James’ Turn of the Screw. Devil A spirit of incarnate evil. Latin: diabolus. Ranges from tragic villain-hero (Milton’s Paradise Lost) to punisher of sinners (Lewis’ The Monk) to tempter and deceiver (Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus) to pure evil. Villain-Hero The villain poses as a hero at the beginning of the story, or… The villain possesses enough heroic qualities (charisma, sympathetic past) so that either the reader and/or the other characters see the V-H as more than a charlatan or bad guy. Milton’s Satan; Prometheus. The Pursued Protagonist A force that relentlessly, terminally and unavoidably pursues, persecutes or chastizes another for some real or imagined wrong. A crime and retribution cycle, but also… A hero-villain can be both the pursued and the pursuer (Shelley’s Frankenstein, Stoker’s Dracula). The Pursued Heroine A virtuous, idealistic, and usually poetic young woman is pursued by a wicked, older, potent aristocrat. The pursuit threatens the young lady’s morals and ideals (and often her virginity). She usually responds with passive courage. Ghosts, Werewolves, Vampires, Witches Assorted supernatural (usually malignant) beings, bogies, and baddies. Doppelganger German: doublegoer. Ghostly counterpart of another person. Body double, alter ego, identical other person. Bloch’s Psycho, Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Other Elements Ancestral Curse The current generation suffers for evil deeds of ancestors. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables. Body-Snatching Grave-Robbing. Stealing corpses from graves, tombs, or morgues. Illicit trade in cadavers. Violation of religious space. Commercially motivated by science. King’s Pet Semetary. Claustrophobia Abnormal dread of being confined in a close, narrow space. Small, dark, windowless spaces. Gothic Counterfeit Playful fakery of authenticity. The text is presented as a discovery or recovery by the editor, sometimes of an ancient or forgotten text. Cloaks the real writer’s authorship. Complicates the point of view (making things more fun and intriguing). Dreaming/Nightmares Dredge up strong emotions, such as ecstasy, terror, joy. Reveal urges, impulses, desires, even truths about oneself one tries to hide. Reveal the future; premonitions. Gothic Gadgets Physical elements allowing supernatural powers to display uncanny presence and abilities. “Supernatural props”: vocal and mobile portraits; animated statues and skeletons; doors, gates, portals, hatchways which open and close independently; secret passageways; secret messages and manuscripts; forbidden chambers and sealed compartments; casket lids seen to rise, etc. The Grotesque Mutations, often deformities. The flowers in Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter”; the jester in Poe’s “Hop-Frog”. A mix of two separate modes, such as comedy and tragedy, creating a disturbing fiction, in which comic circumstances often preclude horrific tragedy and vice-versa. Necromancy The dark art of communicating with the dead. Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus. Revenant The return of the dead upon the living. A ghostly being who returns to life. Wilke Collins’ “The Dream Woman”. Revenge The act of repaying someone for a harm caused. Revenge can be enacted upon a loved one, a family member, a friend, an object or area. Poe’s “Cask of Amontillado”. Somnambulism Sleepwalking Hidden sources of stress may be revealed or acts of guilt replayed. Transformation/Metamorphosis A striking change in appearance; a change in the form or function of an organism by a natural or unnatural process. Poe’s “Morella” and “Ligeia”; HG Wells’ Dr. Moreau, Stevenson’s Mr. Hyde, King’s It. Your Task Create an original horror story 2-3 pages in length. must include dialogue, characterization, theme, and suspense, BUT no gore. This is not an experiment in how much bloody violence you can write about. It is a piece about fear, suspense, and terror—not blood and guts. Elements of a Short Story http://www.flocabulary.com/fivethings/ Listen to and follow along with the song about the five major elements of a story. A copy of this song has been given to you for your information. Acknowledgement Material in this powerpoint is a combination of two online PowerPoints as well as my own insertions. Presentation created by Paul Reiff of the English Department at Vernon Hills High School, District 128, Illinois. Most material gathered from “A Glossary of Literary Gothic Terms” on the web at www2.gasou.edu/facstaff/dougt/goth. Site maintained by Douglas H. Thomson of the Department of Literature and Philosophy at Georgia Southern University. Presentation found at http://www.etsu.edu/coe/uschool/faculty/borthwik/ honors/documents/The_Horror_Story_Unit.ppt.
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